As is tradition around these parts after the season is over, we’re taking a look at every player that got into a game for the St. Louis Cardinals this season. That’ll range from someone that didn’t record an out to someone that played almost every inning. Treat it like they are stopping by the manager’s office (umm, also imagine this was before the managerial change) on their way home for the winter for a performance review. Stats listed are ones generated during their time with the Cards and the grade is based not only on their performance but on the expectations for them going into the season. As he has the past few years, the legend that is cardinalsgifs has provided our excellent header image!
Player: John Gant
Season stats: 4-6, 3.42 ERA, 25 G, 76.1 IP, 64 H, 6 HR, 56 BB, 56 K, 5 inherited runners, 0 inherited runners scored, 5.12 FIP, 1.572 WHIP, 6.6 K/9, 0.8 bWAR, 0.1 fWAR
Statcast: .343 xwOBA, 5.9 barrel %, 90.0 exit velocity, 38.8 hard hit %, 18.7 K %, 14.5 BB %
Best Statcast category: Fastball Spin (92nd percentile)
Worst Statcast category: BB % (2nd percentile)
Hero/Goat: Hero 1, Goat 4
Positives: Started the season in the rotation for the first time in his career….had a 1.60 ERA after his first start in June….in five of his 14 starts he did not allow an earned run….lefties hit .223 against him….was much better on the road, allowing a .691 OPS in the road grays (or power blues)….was 2-1 with a 1.37 ERA in May….had a 2.66 ERA as a reliever in four outings….allowed a .608 OPS when getting three to five runs of support….third place hitters hit .133 against him….had a .555 OPS when he got two strikes on a batter….limited the damage with runners in scoring position, giving up a .181 average….was effective in high leverage situations, posting a .551 OPS in those spots….batters hit .190 on his first 25 pitches and .191 on pitches 51-75….the Cubs hit .184 against him….put up a 1.03 ERA in his five wins (one with Minnesota).
Negatives: Walks, walks, walks….four times he walked five or more batters in a game….in no start for the Cardinals did he not walk at least one person….walked as many as he struck out….lefties had a .363 on base percentage against him….while the slash lines were similar, his ERA in the second half was 5.17 compared to 3.52 in the first….had a 7.15 ERA in June as he walked more (18) than he struck out (15)….lost his spot in the rotation the last week of June….was in the bottom 10% of the league in chase rate and walk percentage, while just barely avoiding that fate with fastball velocity….seven of his nine home runs on the year came in games where he got two or fewer runs of support….batters hit .309 when they swung at his first pitch and .447 (with a 1.120 OPS) when they hit it….allowed a .313 average leading off an inning….hitters slashed .330/.436/.504 on pitches 26-50….traded at the deadline to Minnesota.
Overview: We’ll look at the return of the deal for Gant (J.A. Happ) tomorrow but there could be a case to be made that the best thing that Gant did for the Cardinals was to get traded. If you’ve listened to me on Meet Me at Musial for any length of time, you know that I’ve been leery of Gant after he had a terrible second half of the season. (Granted, not as much as Ben Humphries derided him on Cardinals Off Day this season, but nobody’s going to top that.) 2020 was short enough that stamina or other issues didn’t really come into play but we saw the same sort of pattern this season. He could dance around the walks for a while but eventually it caught up with him and it finally took him out of the rotation and out of Cardinals red. When he could get out of jams things went well. He just couldn’t do that forever.
Outlook: Gant was able to curtail his walks a little bit in Minnesota but the home run rate went up and so did the ERA. He split his time starting and relieving for the Twins and while the role of the swingman is diminishing, there still some value there. The Twins went ahead and non-tendered him, so Gant’s out on the free agent market. It’ll be interesting to see if he gets a major league contract–he’s obviously got the talent to have some success in the bigs but people aren’t going to be clamoring to get that walk rate.