Every year since 2012, we’ve spent some time after the season looking back at those that wore the Birds on the Bat. Whether it’s a bit player that got into just a couple of games or someone that played almost every day, we’ll look at their stats, their positives, their negatives, and grade them based on what we would have expected from them. The stat line is from their time in St. Louis, though splits and other numbers may include time with other teams, if applicable. Think of this as like the players packing up their locker and then seeing Mike Shildt before they head off for the winter. Once again, our great header work comes to us from cardinalsgifs, who continues to be a master.
If we’re talking about 2019, we’ve got to highlight the brand that made the most impact this season: Primos and their partnership with Jose Martinez. Throughout the span of these interviews (today through Dec. 5) you can get 10% off your order of that sweet, sweet Cafecito coffee (well, I guess you probably have to doctor it to make it sweet) or anything else at their site. My wife is a coffee snob and we’ve bought multiple bags of the medium roast. It’s a great stocking stuff or Christmas gift as well, especially when you expand your order to pick up the Jose Martinez coffee mug. So use code C70SAVE10 at checkout and show your support of their ties to the Cardinal fanbase!
Player: Tommy Edman
Season stats: 92 G, 349 PA, 59 R, 99 H, 17 2B, 7 3B, 11 HR, 36 RBI, 15 SB, 1 CS, 16 BB, 61 K, .304/.350/.500, 120 OPS+, 3.8 bWAR
Statcast: 5.3% barrel %, 87.1 exit velocity, 32.8% hard hit %, .330 xwOBA
Hero/Goat: Hero 9, Goat 6
Overall grade: A
Positives: Made his major league debut June 8 against the Cubs….hit .329 from August 1 on while starting 50 games in that stretch….hit .415 with a 1.179 OPS in the last two weeks of the season….hit .321 with four home runs against left-handers….hit .356 with a .959 OPS at Busch Stadium….hit .350 in September….hit .304 as a starter but had a 1.133 OPS as a sub….hit .333 when he led off a game and .320 when he led off an inning….hit .345 hitting second….had a .974 OPS when he hit the first pitch….had a 1.010 OPS when there were no balls in the count….hit .283 when the pitcher was ahead….had a 1.099 OPS in close and late situations….hit .406 with a 1.249 OPS with one out in an inning….eight of his home runs came in high or medium leverage situations….hit .367 in high leverage spots….had a 1.000 OPS or better in the first and second innings….had a .923 OPS against starters….slashed .413/.453/.725 against power pitchers….hit .347 with three homers against the Cubs….hit .314 in day games….forced Matt Carpenter to a part-time role (well, Carpenter had some part in that as well)….hit .305 with seven homers before his callup at Memphis.
Negatives: Walked less than five percent of the time….had a .761 OPS away from St. Louis, even though seven of his home runs came on the road….hit .256 with a .680 OPS in July….hit just .231 as a pinch-hitter but did have a triple and a homer in those 14 plate appearances….hit .225 when he got two strikes on him….hit .196 with two outs in a frame….hit .208 with runners in scoring position….that dropped to .152 when there were two outs and RISP….hit .224 when the team was ahead….hit .191 when the teams were separated by more than four runs….had a .707 OPS in low leverage situations….had a .545 OPS in the ninth inning….hit .248 against relievers the first time around in a game….hit .214 at Miller Park.
Overview: Edman opened some eyes with a good spring and with the offense sputtering in May, the clamor from the fan base to see what he could do only grew. Edman quickly played himself into regular playing time, even though some of that time was in the outfield while people like Lane Thomas sat and Randy Arozarena played at Memphis. Mike Shildt knew what he was done, even as he played Edman through his July slump, and the infielder/outfielder rewarded him with some of the most consistent play this team had from August on. At points in July, fans wondered why Edman got to be out there every day. By September, they were complaining if he was sitting on the bench for a game.
His versatility was an asset, of course, but the biggest contribution he made was shoring up third base when Matt Carpenter never could get on track. Not only did he hit better than Carpenter, his glove was an upgrade as well. Edman isn’t likely to ever win a fielding award but he doesn’t hurt you at any position and made some wonderful plays at the hot corner. If it weren’t for him, you wonder if the Cardinals might be more aggressive looking for a third baseman this winter. (Probably not, but you wonder.)
Outlook: The question with Edman is, of course, can he keep it up. He’s got a better minor league track record than other scrappy middle infield types in Cardinal history (like Joe McEwing, Bo Hart, and current first base coach Stubby Clapp) and he’s done it for a long period of time in the major leagues as well. That said, baseball is littered with solid rookie performances that never amounted to anything else. Right now, the Cardinals seem to project Edman as a poor man’s Ben Zobrist, a guy that can play five positions. Hopefully his bat will continue to be strong enough that he can regularly play, but the walk rate probably needs to increase. Edman is a smart player and it wouldn’t surprise me if, like Paul DeJong, he continues to work on increasing the walk rate.
Edman’s contributions this year were a surprise and a large reason why the Cardinals made in to the NLCS this season. He’ll be counted on to be part of the equation in 2020, so any falloff in performance could be a problem for the Redbirds. Still, there’s plenty of reason to think that Edman will be a solid contributor next season and, hopefully, will work on his shortstop game enough to be a reliable backup there, allowing DeJong some days off. Edman will be in the spotlight next season. How he reacts will be a fascinating thing to watch.