One of our regular offseason traditions is the Exit Interview, where we look back at each player that got into a game for the St. Louis Cardinals in the past season. This is the 11th season we’ve done this and it’s a good way to get a view of the whole year, not just a short stretch of games. It’s sort of like a performance review before the players went off to their offseason work, spending a little time with Oli Marmol and going over what went right, what went wrong. Stats and grades are only for a player’s time in St. Louis, though splits numbers may include other teams. As always, my sincere thanks to the legend of cardinalsgifs for providing the header image!
Player: Brendan Donovan
Season stats: 126 G, 468 PA, 64 R, 21 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 45 RBI, 2 SB, 3 CS, 60 BB, 70 K, .281/.394/.379, 126 OPS+, 4.1 bWAR, 2.7 fWAR
Statcast: .339 xwOBA, 3.4 barrel %, 87.7 exit velocity, 37.7 hard hit %, 15.0 K %, 12.8 BB %
Best Statcast category: BB% (93rd percentile)
Worst Statcast category: Barrel % (8th percentile)
Hero/Goat: Hero 6, Goat 6
Positives: Made his major league debut April 25 and quickly became a regular starting piece of the lineup….had one four-hit game and six three-hit games….hit .282 against righties and .279 against lefties….hit .330 with a .896 OPS at Busch Stadium….his second-half OPS was just 26 points less than his first-half OPS, showing he didn’t wear down under the longer season….hit over .300 in three months (May, June, and August)….hit .375 in 27 plate appearances as a first baseman….played six different positions plus DH….in 24 plate appearances at shortstop, posted a 1.542 OPS….batted second more than any other spot and had an OPS of .838 there….had an .839 OPS when he swung at the first pitch….when he actually hit it, he hit .349….posted a 1.048 OPS when ahead in the count….hit .324 with one out in an inning….had a .994 OPS with runners in scoring position….it was .928 with two outs and RISP….hit .295 in late and close situations….hit .323 when the Cards were ahead, .324 when they were behind….had an .880 OPS in high leverage situations….slashed .414/.541/.586 in the second inning….hit .303 against relievers….had a .902 OPS against finesse pitchers….hit .346 with 11 RBI against the Cubs….nominated for and won the first ever utility Gold Glove in the National League.
Negatives: Hit .160 against left-handed starters….had a .547 OPS in July….was just 1 for 13 coming off the bench….hit .143 as the first batter of the game and .231 when he led off an inning….hit .220 as a leadoff hitter….slashed .215/.239/.319 when behind in the count….weakest in the first part of the game, putting up a .719 OPS in the first three innings….had a .643 OPS against power pitchers….had a .584 OPS against the Brewers.
Overview: We said earlier today that Ben DeLuzio was a name that came out of nowhere. Kyle Reis had made sure Donovan wasn’t the same sort of surprise, talking him up for at least the last year or so. Donovan had a good spring, enough to get on the radar, and it wasn’t long before the club made the move to bring him up to help the middle infield with Paul DeJong scuffling. Donovan took the opportunity and ran with it (most likely losing his helmet along the way). Donovan had some big hits along the way–the home run in San Diego to help break a terrible offensive funk comes to mind immediately–and also played all around the field without missing a beat. We’ve often said that Tommy Edman would be a great super sub but he’s always been forced to start at a position regularly. Donovan showed just how valuable a super utility guy could be. Once you get past the big names, Donovan was farther up the team MVP list than you would have thought at the beginning of the season.
Outlook: Now to do it again! Donovan won’t be a nice bonus next season but will be expected to be a huge part of the plans. There’s always the risk that a rookie is going to struggle in his second season–we’ve talked about that some with Dylan Carlson–but Donovan’s all around game should keep him from cratering. It’s unlikely that he’ll have to start in a certain spot next year, especially if the Cardinals shore up the team as expected in the winter, so he will be free to bounce around, get regular at bats while others rest, and hopefully continue to be this generation’s Jose Oquendo.