The last couple of years, I spent the time immediately after the season examining each player that had made an appearance in St. Louis during the season. This series was well received and so I’m bringing this idea back for the 2014 offseason. More summaries than anything, I imagine the player coming into Mike Matheny‘s office and having a short conference before heading home for the winter. Stats are just the ones accumulated for the Cardinals during the regular season.
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Player: Randal Grichuk
Season stats: 47 games, 116 PA, 11 R, 6 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 5 BB, 31 K, .245/.278/.400 87 OPS+
Hero/Goat: Hero 2, Goat 2
Overall grade: B-
Positives: Seemed to play some above-average defense, though some of the metrics don’t really agree….hit all three of his regular season home runs (and one of his two postseason long balls) off of left-handed pitching, though overall his OPS wasn’t much different no matter who was throwing….hit .318 in 28 games (68 PA) after returning from a demotion to Memphis at the end of August.
Negatives: Struggled away from Busch Stadium, hitting .224/.262/.379….only hit .115 with a .302 OPS in close and late situations….in relation to that, hit .130 (.384 OPS) in 24 high-leverage plate appearances….that walk-to-strikeout ratio scares little children.
Overview: Whatever the reason, however it happened, Grichuk became Matheny’s guy down the stretch, running out there most every day while players like Oscar Taveras and Peter Bourjos, who would seem more capable against righthanders, sat on the bench. Grichuk also started and played the entire way in every postseason game, even as he went into a 2-20 spiral after starting the playoffs with a home run off of Clayton Kershaw.
There’s no doubt that Grichuk gave the team a boost down the stretch and he definitely earned some playing time, but given two solid left-handed options on the bench, at least one of whom would not be a dropoff defensively, Grichuk’s playing time is a bit puzzling. You’ll note that according to Brooks Baseball, Grichuk’s success against non-fastballs is limited. Grichuk can run into one, there’s no doubt, but he’s going to have to do a lot of adjusting to be ready to play on a regular basis all year long.
Outlook: With the passing of Taveras, right now it looks like right field is going to be Grichuk’s. Given Matheny’s apparent fondness for running him out there, it would seem that he’d be the favorite going into spring training. That said, Grichuk has a lot of weaknesses and would seem to be better as a platoon outfielder or a bench bat. What his role for next year will be may depend on how creative John Mozeliak gets this offseason.