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: Juan Yepez
Stats: 28 G, 65 PA, 5 R, 1 2B, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 1 CS, .183/.246/.300, -0.7 bWAR
Statcast: 7.5% barrel, 35.0% sweet spot, 113.8 max exit velocity, .243 wOBA, .298 xwOBA, 30.8% K, 6.2% BB
Nature vs. nurture. The chicken or the egg. Conundrums abound in our world and Juan Yepez added his own wrinkle to it this year. Was the production bad because he had limited playing time or did he get limited playing time because the production was bad?
This time last year, Yepez was coming off a rookie season that saw him have an OPS+ of 109 and a postseason where he got the only home run, two of the three RBI, and 1/6th of the hits the team produced in the two game series with the Phillies, and that was with coming off the bench in the first game. It looked like Yepez was going to be the feel-good story, having been grabbed as a lottery ticket as part of the Matt Adams trade. The defense wasn’t great but there was a DH spot that he could have used quite regularly. Even with the outfield being stocked, there seemed to be room for Yepez.
Yet when Opening Day rolled around, Yepez was bound for Memphis. He never actually got there, turning around and reaching St. Louis when Lars Nootbaar hurt himself in the first game. Two weeks later, when the Noot was back, Yepez made the trip down I-55. He came back up a couple of weeks later, then headed back after a month. That demotion held until the last couple of weeks of the season after Tyler O’Neill got hurt.
Now, it’s not that Yepez was tearing up Memphis by any means. Yepez hit .255 at Memphis with only nine homers in 86 games. Three of those homers did come in August and he was hitting .333 for September before he got called up, so maybe he needed to settle in more after the back and forth, I don’t know. Power is the name of his game, though, and slugging .413 in his second go-around at AAA isn’t what the club wanted to see.
Their usage of him was a little questionable, especially given some of the struggles at the major league level, but he also didn’t take advantage of the playing time when he got it. Given how the season went, it wasn’t too surprising that the club moved on. Some expected him to go via trade rather than non-tender, but perhaps the market wasn’t as robust for him as the club would have liked. Still, we’ll always have 2022.
What’s in store for 2024: Team Yepez seems to expect a new organization to pick him up shortly, so hopefully that means he’ll get another shot somewhere. A second-division team that could give him a lot of DH spots might find themselves handsomely rewarded. I have no doubt we’ll see Juan Yepez get some major league at bats next year with someone.