One of our regular offseason traditions is the Exit Interview, where we look back at each player that got into a game for the St. Louis Cardinals in the past season. This is the 11th season we’ve done this and it’s a good way to get a view of the whole year, not just a short stretch of games. It’s sort of like a performance review before the players went off to their offseason work, spending a little time with Oli Marmol and going over what went right, what went wrong. Stats and grades are only for a player’s time in St. Louis, though splits numbers may include other teams. As always, my sincere thanks to the legend of cardinalsgifs for providing the header image!
Player: Nolan Gorman
Season stats: 89 G, 313 PA, 44 R, 13 2B, 14 HR, 35 RBI, 1 SB, 28 BB, 103 K, .226/.300/.420, 106 OPS+, 0.7 bWAR, 0.5 fWAR
Statcast: .341 xwOBA, 14.4 barrel %, 89.2 exit velocity, 43.3 hard hit %, 32.9 K %, 8.9 BB %
Best Statcast category: Max Exit Velocity (69th percentile)
Worst Statcast category: Outs Above Average (1st percentile)
Hero/Goat: Hero 5, Goat 5
Positives: Made his major league debut May 20 and got his first major league hit that same night….hit his first home run May 28 against the Brewers, part of a 4-4 night….hit .387 with a 1.150 OPS in his first 10 games….hit all of his home runs off of righties….had a .943 OPS in games the club won….11 of his homers came as a second baseman….hit seven homers and had a 1.089 OPS when leading off an inning….had a .824 OPS hitting second….hit five homers when batting second and when batting fifth….hit .344 on the first pitch….put up a 1.017 OPS when ahead in the count….hit five homers with two outs in an inning, though he only hit .191 in those situations….had a .724 OPS with runners in scoring position….had two homers with two outs and RISP….was big in the fifth inning, slashing .310/.356/.738 with five homers….put up an .804 OPS against starters….hit 10 homers and had a .917 OPS against finesse pitchers….came up big against the Brewers, with three homers, nine RBI, and a 1.120 OPS….hit 16 homers in Memphis, meaning overall he had a 30 HR season.
Negatives: Didn’t make it all the way through his first season in the majors, going back to Memphis in mid-September….struck out almost once every three at bats….hit .211 against left-handers, though he only saw them for 23 plate appearances….hit .212 at Busch….after the first month, his highest monthly batting average was .231 (August)….went 1-10 with five strikeouts as a pinch-hitter….hit .177 with three homers in the DH role….also hit .177 when the pitcher was ahead in the count, though put up four homers in that situation….had a .685 OPS in late and close situations….was often replaced late in games for a defensive replacement….hit .204 in high leverage situations….had a .590 OPS against relievers….had a .127 average and struck out 46% of the time against power pitchers….hit .121 against the Cubs.
Overview: Gorman was one of the big prospect names that everyone was watching in the spring. He struggled there, keeping him from starting in the big leagues, but it didn’t take long to show that Memphis didn’t hold much for him. He started off hot, but as pitchers figure out how to exploit his holes the production slipped dramatically. It got to the point where the club just couldn’t keep him on the roster even as they got close to wrapping up a division title. He did get re-added to the roster for the postseason and he drove in a run with a single in his only at bat after things went south in Game 1. It wasn’t exactly the rookie season that most people expected, nor was it the best rookie season on the team, but there have been much worse starts to careers.
Outlook: Gorman’s going to have to figure out how to hit major league heat, as he hit only .192 on fastballs. Once he catches up to the speed of the game at the major league level or makes adjustments to his swing to better attack the fastball, he very well may still fulfill many of the expectations that were laid on him. When he hits them, they go–at one point he had the longest homer by a Cardinal in 2022–and there’s absolutely no reason to give up on the young man yet.