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: Tommy Edman
Season stats: 153 G, 630 PA, 95 R, 31 2B, 4 3B, 13 HR, 57 RBI, 32 SB, 3 CS, 46 BB, 111 K, .265/.324/.400, 108 OPS+, 6.3 bWAR, 5.6 fWAR
Statcast: .308 xwOBA, 6.2 barrel %, 88.6 exit velocity, 37.8 hard hit %, 17.6 K %, 7.3 BB %
Best Statcast category: Outs Above Average (100th percentile)
Worst Statcast category: Arm Strength (18th percentile)
Hero/Goat: Hero 11, Goat 11
Positives: Hit when many others didn’t, posting a .312/.360/.452 line in September….had 11 three-hit games, including his last game of the season….hit .276 against lefties but eight of his homers came against right-handers….had a strong second half, putting up a .768 OPS….played five positions (though only two games in the outfield) and was the first person in history to be nominated for two Gold Gloves in the same year (second and utility), though he didn’t win either….had an .868 OPS hitting ninth….hit .410 with a 1.174 OPS on the first pitch….had a .980 OPS when ahead in the count….hit .338 with two outs….hit .324 with runners in scoring position….had an .904 OPS with two outs and RISP….slashed .325/.386/.525 in the ninth inning….hit .294 against relievers….hit nine homers against finesse pitchers….hit .338 with four homers and 12 RBI against the Cubs.
Negatives: Had a miserable July with a .198/.245/.253 line….hit .161 when he was the first batter of the game….hit .198 when leading off an inning, though he did have six homers in that situation….batted first more than anywhere else but had one of his worst OPSes (.671) there….had a .390 OPS when behind in the count….hit .221 with nobody out in an inning….hit .238 with the bases empty….seven of his homers came in low-leverage situations….had a .466 OPS in the first inning….hit .206 the first time in a game he saw the starter….hit .203 against power pitchers….hit .235 against the Brewers, but with two homers.
Overview: There were a lot of folks that expected Edman to hit a wall or run out of magic in 2022. After all, he’d had two years of sub-100 OPS+ and there wasn’t a lot of expectation that the trend would reverse. While Edman brought a lot of assets to the table, surely by the end of the year he’d be the bench/utility player that always seemed to be his destiny. Instead, Edman went out and improved his game in almost every facet. He hit a career high in homers, had enough WAR on either scale to be an All-Star level player. (On Fangraphs he was 17th in the majors.) While he didn’t win a Gold Glove like he did in 2021, that was more a function of moving to shortstop mid-year when Paul DeJong flamed out than any step back in his defense. He increased his OPS+ by 17 points and was actually above average by that standard. After you get past Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, Edman is in the conversation for the most valuable Cardinal of the past season.
Outlook: Can he sustain that improvement? That’s the question. On the one hand, you probably shouldn’t count Edman out of anything by now and he will be in his age 28 season next year, still early in his prime. On the other, the strikeouts are increasing and you wonder if this wasn’t a whale breaching the surface before dropping back down. Personally, I expect we’ll see a lot more key hits, a lot more discussion about his grit and intangibles, but we’ll also see at least 3-4 WAR from him. Edman looks to be a starter for the near future, at short until Masyn Winn is ready, then at second. That utility role seems far away.