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: Yairo Munoz
Season stats: 88 G, 181 PA, 20 R, 46 H, 7 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 8 SB, 3 CS, 7 BB, 37 K, .267/.298/.355, 71 OPS+, -0.4 bWAR
Statcast: 1.5% barrel %, 84.7 exit velocity, 25.0% hard hit %, .245 xwOBA
Hero/Goat: Hero 3, Goat 2
Overall grade: C
Positives: Got his first career triple….hit .282 against lefties, but both of his homers came off of right handers….had a .728 OPS away from Busch Stadium….hit .307 in the first half with a .709 OPS….put up a .345 average in June….as a starter, had a .303/.330/.422 slash line….when he played left, he had a .429 average with an OPS over 1.000….leading off an inning, he went .485/.514/.636 (35 plate appearances)….hit .480 with a 1.237 OPS in the sixth position….had a 1.043 OPS when ahead in the count….hit .373 with nobody out….had a .297 average with runners in scoring position….had a .946 OPS with two outs and RISP….put up a .294 average in the middle innings….hit .304 off of starting pitchers….hit .304 with a home run against the Reds.
Negatives: Played in just 58 games after Tommy Edman‘s debut….while he was on the roster for both postseason series, he did not get his first (and only) playing time until he pinch-hit in the 7th inning of Game 4 of the NLCS, where he struck out….only played once in the last week of the season, the game in Arizona after the 19 inning game when all the starters sat….hit .242 at Busch, where he started just nine games….hit .226 with a .596 OPS in the second half….posted a .490 OPS in September….when he came off the bench, he hit .206….hit .194 as a pinch-hitter….had a .192 average hitting seventh….when the pitcher was ahead, put up a .388 OPS….had a .582 OPS in low leverage situations….only hit .237 against relievers but both of his home runs came against them….hit .154 against the Cubs.
Overview: I don’t know if anyone has had the roller-coaster stock that Munoz has had lately. Last year, it looked like he was a solid utility guy, someone that could handle a lot and put up plenty of offense while doing it. The defense wasn’t great and that probably would keep him from a starting role, but every team needs that Ben Zobrist type that can bounce around the diamond, playing a different spot every day and contributing.
Now, the Cardinals have Edman, who can do pretty much all that with a better glove and, at least so far, it seems like a better bat. Where that leaves Munoz, besides a guy that people are ready to move on from, is anyone’s guess. Munoz seems to be the same player he was last year, but the expectations have shifted and the new hotness has arrived. Baseball is harsh, man.
Outlook: The numbers above seem to indicate that if Munoz could get some regular AB, he could be a contributor to many teams, especially teams that are maybe not at a contending level and so can let him play more. It’s hard to see how he can really be useful on a team with Edman, even if Edman winds up being less the Swiss army knife and more the regular starter at third. Munoz would honestly benefit from a trade but he also has connections with Jose Martinez and Yadier Molina. With rosters expanding to 26 next year, Munoz probably will be kept as an insurance policy in case of multiple injuries. He still has an option left and that flexibility might be another reason he’s still a Cardinal in 2020.