This season didn’t go like most seasons. The Cardinals were terrible. I stopped writing here very much, with nothing after the blog anniversary. However, some things must go on and that includes the Exit Interview series! Now in its 12th year, it’s our look back at each player that made an appearance in a game for the St. Louis Cardinals. We’re approaching it a little different this season, a little more literary and a little less statistical, but hopefully you enjoy it just the same. As always, I am grateful that cardinalsgifs has agreed to use his talent for the header image!
Player: Tommy Edman
Stats: 137 G, 528 PA, 69 R, 25 2B, 4 3B, 13 HR, 47 RBI, 27 SB, 4 CS, .248/.307/.399, 2.0 bWAR
Statcast: 5.0% barrel, 27.9% sweet spot, 111.2 max exit velocity, .306 wOBA, .310 xwOBA, 15.9% K, 6.6% BB
Tommy Edman shouldn’t be this important to the Cardinals, should he? He’s a guy that has an OPS+ around 10% worse than league average in three of his last four seasons. He’s a shortstop that plays the outfield. His struggles hitting against righties are enough that he’s at time abandoned switch hitting to go up against them from the right side. You’d think that he would have washed out by now, following in the lines of the Joe McEwings or Stubby Clapps from the past.
Instead, he continues to be right at the top of the list of most valuable Cardinals.
He played second, short, and center, doing it well enough to be nominated for the utility Gold Glove, the only Cardinal to be nominated. His play in center was particularly remarkable given that he’d never played it at the major league level. I haven’t seen the defensive metrics to know if some of that was more in the eye of the beholder–for instance, if a running sliding catch that looked outstanding might have been a routine catch for someone like Dylan Carlson–but there’s no doubt that he played the position well. The utility that he brings is valuable to the Cardinals. Heck, he’s even been replaced as the whipping boy on Cardinals Off Day by his manager. That alone meant that it was a pretty good year.
How long does this go, though? It continues to feel like smoke and mirrors. When you look at the stats, when you dig into the splits, nothing just stands out. Yet he consistently seems to be right in the middle of some big moments and is a force in the clubhouse. That said, he’s in his second year of arbitration and MLB Trade Rumors projects he’ll make about $6.5 million this year. For a club that is going to be spending big elsewhere, it feels like that might draw some attention to him going forward.
Edman does seem to be more than the sum of his parts. The question is can that math continue to hold out.
What’s in store for 2024: With Brendan Donovan also a jack-of-all-trades player (though not really a shortstop) and with the other positions Edman plays being potentially locked down, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Edman gets dealt this winter. However, as I think almost everyone has said one time or another, he’s probably worth more to the Cardinals than any other team and it seems unlikely anyone is going to make a push for him. Instead, he’ll probably be in the starting lineup Opening Day, perhaps even batting leadoff.