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: John King
Stats (Cardinals): 1-0, 20 G, 18.2 IP, 19 H, 1 HR, 6 BB, 10 K, 1.45 ERA, 3.85 FIP, 1.339 WHIP, 0.9 bWAR
Statcast (all): 5.5% barrel, 22.8% sweet spot, 116.9 max exit velocity, .327 wOBA, .325 xwOBA, 12.7% K, 6.4% BB
All hail the King. John is baseball royalty and the ring on his finger will prove that. It’s the dream of every player to finally take home that World Series Champions ring and hold it for posterity, showing that you were a part of the best team in baseball that season.
Unfortunately for Mr. King, that ring is the only thing he has to show for the World Series, since Texas won it in part due to the people he was traded for, Jordan Montgomery and Chris Stratton, and he had to finish out the season on the last place St. Louis Cardinals. He was the after-thought portion of that trade, ranking well behind Tekoah Roby and Thomas Saggese when it came to evaluating who got the better end of the deal, but King was also the only player, in all the dealing the Cardinals did, that was immediately added to the 26 man roster. Drew Rom would join him later in the year as the only people acquired to make their Cardinal debuts.
There were limited expectations for King when he was acquired. Beyond the fact that he was a middle reliever, he had a 5.79 ERA in 18.2 innings for the Rangers so far in 2023. Interestingly, King threw exactly that many innings for the Cardinals, struck out exactly the same number of guys, yet had much better success with the birds on the bat and was able to put up almost a full bWAR, which is remarkable given how little time he had in St. Louis. He wasn’t put in too many high-leverage situations, though he did accumulate 10 holds, but he usually kept the game where it was at and only allowed one inherited runner to score (out of seven opportunities).
Given what the Rangers got at the major league level, King wasn’t going to balance those scales by himself. However, if either Roby or Saggese (or, ideally, both) develop, King’s acquisition could be just the cherry on top for that deal.
What’s in store for 2024: Of course, he’s also a reliever and they are notoriously fluky. He’ll probably have a season more in line with his FIP in St. Louis than his ERA but his work (and his contract control) has made it so he’s likely one of the main lefties in the pen next season. He also has one option year left and isn’t eligible for arbitration, so there’s a reasonable chance he’ll see Memphis at some point next season. If not, well, it’s good to be the King.