Exit Interview 2020: Justin Williams

After every season (dating back to 2012), we’ve spent time looking at every player that got into a game for the St. Louis Cardinals that season.  They might have gotten a couple of innings, they might have played every day, but if they played, they get a post.  Usually, I like to term this like the players are packing up their locker and then seeing Mike Shildt before they head off for the winter.  This year, of course, was anything but typical.  So we’ll look at every player, we’ll take in some of their stats, but we won’t be giving out grades this season or delving too much into the positive/negative.  There are just too many variables in the Year of COVID for that to be reasonable.  As he has for the past few years, cardinalsgifs has lent his enormous talents to our header image and we thank him for it!

Player: Justin Williams

Season stats: 3 games, 6 PA, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 K, .200/.333/.200, 52 OPS+, 0.0 bWAR

Postseason stats: DNP

Statcast: .234 xwOBA, 0.0% barrel %, 85.5 exit velocity, 0.0% hard hit %

Best Statcast category: Did not qualify

Worst Statcast category: Did not qualify

Hero/Goat: None


Overview: When the Cardinals received three prospects from Tampa Bay in return for Tommy Pham, Genesis Cabrera was regarded as the prize but Justin Williams was the one expected to make it to the big leagues first.  After all, he’d already had a cup of coffee with the Rays and while the Cardinals had a lot of outfielders (which is one reason they were willing to part with Pham), he’d still probably wind up making it to the bigs sooner rather than later.

Instead, not only did Cabrera make it to the big leagues well before Williams did, but so did the third piece in the deal, Roel Ramirez, who was considered just a throw-in.  When the pandemic scrambled things and Williams still didn’t make it to the majors, you started to wonder if he ever would.  Finally, just when it looked like even in this season of craziness he wouldn’t make it, he did.  He got into three games in mid-September, collected his first major league hit, and then optioned him back down to the alternative site.

Outlook: You have to wonder if Williams shouldn’t make his way to another organization.  He’s still on the 40-man and he just turned 25 this season, but seriously, he couldn’t make the jump even with an offense that was struggling and a worldwide pandemic playing havoc.  We’ve talked about the situation that Lane Thomas is in, but at least he’s had a few bites at the apple to let the club evaluate him.  Williams continues to languish in the minor leagues (though some of it, like smashing his hand against a TV in his first offseason with the club, was self-inflicted) and it seems really unlikely he can climb over all the outfielders ahead of him.  He’s a great depth piece but that would seem to be his only contribution to the Cardinals.

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