For the fifth straight year, we’re taking some time in that time between the end of the season and the winter meetings to discuss each player that made an appearance on the St. Louis roster this season. Whether they played almost every day or never actually got into a game, they get covered in this series. All stats are exclusively their time in St. Louis. Just think of this as them stopping by Mike Matheny‘s office for a quick evaluation before heading home for the winter.
This year’s Exit Interview series is “being brought to you by” some of the various Cardinal podcasts that are out there for your listening pleasure. Our focus this time is Talking About Birds, the only Cardinal podcast that….well, whatever Nate wants to make up this week. Nate and Ben break down the week that was with humor and insight. Plus they have me on sometimes, which I enjoy. Find them on iTunes or check out their site!
Player: Randal Grichuk
Season stats: 132 games, 478 PA, 66 R, 29 2B, 3 3B. 24 HR, 68 RBI, 28 BB, 141 K, .240/.289/.480, 101 OPS+, 2.7 bWAR
Hero/Goat: Hero 9, Goat 12
Overall grade: C+
Positives: Hit .275 with 12 homers after August 11, when the “stallion” was let out of the stable and put in the lineup most every day….actually put up a better OPS against lefties (.806) than righties (.754)….hit .255 with an .826 OPS in the second half….had a 1.025 OPS in August….had a .955 OPS in the 21 games (29 PA) that he wasn’t a starter….hit .429 with a home run as a pinch-hitter….hit .486 with a 1.465 OPS on the first pitch….hit .327 with runners in scoring position….did better against relievers (.865 OPS) than starters (.706)….hit four homers in 15 games against the Cubs.
Negatives: Had a terrible start to the season, hitting .189/.274/.378 in April….had a couple of stints in Memphis, which partly explains his .114/.205/.257 June (only 11 games) but not all of it….struggled when he led off an inning, hitting .188 with a .598 OPS….had a .465 OPS with two strikes (though somehow five homers)….hit .204 with nobody out and .238 with two outs….hit .189 in late and close situations, though again had five home runs….hit .183 against power pitchers….had more doubles than walks.
Overview: It’s been a mantra ever since Tyler Greene. There’s always that guy that fans seem to think will catch fire if he could just play every day and get into his rhythm. That never did work for Greene, but it was a refrain in 2016 for Grichuk and Kolten Wong and at least in Grichuk’s case, it seemed to have some merit. After his final return from Memphis, he seemed to be much more productive and effective at the plate. Whether it was a mechanical adjustment or just the confidence to know an 0-4 wasn’t going to bury him, I don’t know. Whatever it was, though, it was a welcome occurrence, especially with Matt Holliday missing.
Grichuk has proven that he can hit for power, with 17 homers in 2015 and 24 last year. He’s probably not ever going to have a high average and his strike out rate is going to be prolific (he walked six times and struck out 63 during his “play every day” stretch, which was a significantly higher rate than earlier in the year but also an indication he decided to give up on contact), but he can help a team overall. How much may depend on your point of view, of course.
Outlook: Grichuk’s work in center field wasn’t overly impressive and it would seem to behoove the club to move him to left field on a more regular basis in 2017. With Holliday gone the spot is open, but it may depend on whether the Cardinals are able to acquire a true centerfielder in the offseason, as it seems very unlikely they’d trust Tommy Pham with the spot. If they are unable to come up with someone, Grichuk might be pressed into duty in center again, but that’s probably not going to happen.