This season didn’t go like most seasons. The Cardinals were terrible. I stopped writing here very much, with nothing after the blog anniversary. However, some things must go on and that includes the Exit Interview series! Now in its 12th year, it’s our look back at each player that made an appearance in a game for the St. Louis Cardinals. We’re approaching it a little different this season, a little more literary and a little less statistical, but hopefully you enjoy it just the same. As always, I am grateful that cardinalsgifs has agreed to use his talent for the header image!
Player: Alec Burleson
Stats: 107 G, 347 PA, 34 R, 20 2B, 1 3B, 8 HR, 36 RBI, 3 SB, 1 CS, .244/.300/.390, -0.8 bWAR
Statcast: 5.9% barrel, 36.6% sweet spot, 110.6 max exit velocity, .300 wOBA, .329 xwOBA, 13.0% K, 6.6% BB
Figuring out Alec Burleson is a tough nut to crack. On the surface, the numbers seem passable but nothing fancy. You like seeing the doubles and you figure that may start to develop into over-the-wall power. The metrics are more fascinating, though, and seem to be what the club is pinning their hopes on for Mr. Burleson. The hard hit rate has been over 40% in both of his seasons. The exit velocity is exciting. His selectivity and ability to make regular contact makes you dream on what could be. He’s still young as well. He’ll turn 25 in a couple of weeks and already has a season-plus under his belt.
That said, as much as I like Burleson, with all the issues going on with this team and the fact that some of the metrics didn’t fully translate, it was surprising that he never spent a day in the minor leagues this year. Until he went on the injured list at the very end of the season, having broken his thumb in a slide at third base, he was one of the few that had been around all season long. He hit just .222 in the first half, which you would have thought could have seen a trip to Memphis if only to shake things up around the team.
It’s also interesting that the club is already starting to make him into a platoon player. Burleson had just 29 plate appearance against left-handed pitchers this season versus 318 against righties. Given how Burleson hit on his way up the ladder (a quick ascent, given that he was part of that now-legendary 2020 draft) it’s a little strange that he is being pigeon-holed into that sort of role.
There’s a lot of potential to get excited about with Burleson. That could be great for the Cardinals or it could be great for another team. If the Cardinals are going to trade for young, cost-controlled pitching they are going to have to give up some sort of young, controllable talent to acquire it. That could be, given all the other outfielders on the roster and in the system, Alec Burleson. It wouldn’t be something the front office would really want to do but they may be forced into that corner.
What’s in store in 2024: If he’s not traded, Burleson should see a lot of time probably at DH given that he had significantly more negative WAR from defense than he did from his hitting. You would think the club would clear up some of the logjam and have him as your fourth outfielder/semi-regular DH and let him start translating those metrics into actual production.