The Cardinal Nation May Player of the Month

Then-Memphis outfielder Randal Grichuk is our choice as the top position player across the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system last month.

Rate stats on lower number of at-bats or counting stats with more at-bats?

When considering players for these monthly awards, there is not always a clear answer where to draw the line. After all, players can only play when their managers put them into the lineup. On the other hand, is it fair to consider equally a player with only 40 at-bats to another with three times as many?

So it went with the selection of the May Player of the Month here at The Cardinal Nation. Two players at the top of the batting average and OPS lists fall into that gray area.

Memphis outfielder Tommy Pham was the primary recipient of the at-bats vacated by one of the hottest hitters in the system in April, Joey Butler. Still, Pham had just 48 ABs.

Called up to Palm Beach from extended spring training on May 20, Luke Voit was a bolt of lightning to the A-Advanced Cardinals offense. Yet the slugger accrued just 43 at-bats in his 11 days active.

My conclusion is to give the two, Pham and Voit, the most honorable of mentions up front, but wait to see how they do with 80-100 at-bats in June.

When taking production into account, another player stands out. His at-bat total was in the middle of the group at 81, as he was in the minors only from May 9 through May 30.

My choice of TCN's May Player of the Month made the most of his plate appearances, batting over .300 with an OPS over 1.000. Despite that somewhat modest total of 81 at-bats, he delivered in counting stats - leading the system in home runs by a considerable margin, tying for most runs scored and seventh in RBI.

The winner is outfielder Randal Grichuk, then with Memphis and now with St. Louis.

The 22-year-old was The Cardinal Nation's 10th-ranked prospect coming into 2014, his first season as a Cardinal. When he left Memphis, the right-handed hitter was fifth in the Pacific Coast League for the season in slugging percentage at .589.

Let's go to the numbers. We start with all 12 .300 hitters and those eight with .900 or higher OPSses during May.

Name Tm AVG BABIP AB   Name Tm OPS
Tommy Pham Mem 0.396 0.457 48   Tommy Pham Mem 1.171
Shane Robinson Mem 0.373 0.407 59   Luke Voit PB 1.100
Luke Voit PB 0.372 0.400 43   James Ramsey Spr 1.042
Cody Stanley Spr 0.364 0.394 88   Randal Grichuk Mem 1.029
Breyvic Valera PB 0.361 0.368 119   Jacob Wilson Spr 0.978
Kolten Wong Mem 0.353 0.348 51   Cody Stanley Spr 0.969
Jacob Wilson Spr 0.337 0.351 86   Anthony Garcia PB 0.935
Charlie Tilson PB 0.333 0.415 81   Kolten Wong Mem 0.910
Jermaine Curtis Mem 0.333 0.395 51        
Oscar Taveras Mem 0.327 0.360 101        
Randal Grichuk Mem 0.321 0.345 81        
James Ramsey Spr 0.309 0.293 55        

Along with Pham, Voit and Grichuk, several others are on both lists. They include TCN's April Player of the Month James Ramsey, who continued strongly, but was limited to 55 May at-bats with Springfield due to injury.

Other notables include Ramsey's teammates Cody Stanley and Jacob Wilson plus temporary MLB refugee Kolten Wong.

Name Tm HR   Name Tm RBI
Randal Grichuk Mem 7   Oscar Taveras Mem 23
James Ramsey Spr 5   Patrick Wisdom Spr 22
Patrick Wisdom Spr 5   David Washington PB 17
Cody Stanley Spr 4   Breyvic Valera PB 17
Mason Katz Peo 4   Stephen Piscotty Mem 16
        Juan Herrera Peo 16
        Randal Grichuk Mem 15
        Jacob Wilson Spr 15

As we move to home runs, Springfield is again well-represented among those who hit at least one per week, but Grichuk stands head and shoulders above them.

Ramsey's five homers in 55 at-bats was interesting. Oscar Taveras' impressive RBI count offers a good reminder why he and Grichuk are now with St. Louis.

Though Patrick Wisdom may never be a high-average hitter, his production totals in May were notable. Stephen Piscotty has had a relatively quiet Triple-A introduction, but is among the RBI and scoring leaders. Speaking of which…

Name Tm R   Name Tm SB
Randal Grichuk Mem 18   Juan Herrera Peo 14
Rafael Ortega Spr 18   Breyvic Valera PB 6
Juan Herrera Peo 17   Rafael Ortega Spr 5
Breyvic Valera PB 16   Kolten Wong Mem 5
Stephen Piscotty Mem 16   C.J. McElroy Peo 5
Oscar Taveras Mem 15   Matt Williams Spr 4
Cody Stanley Spr 15   Greg Miclat Spr 4

Here is where things get interesting. A couple of off-the-radar names in Rafael Ortega and Juan Herrera are prominent among both the runs scored and stolen base lists. Peoria's Herrera's steal total of 14 more than doubled the next closest.

I am perhaps guilty at times of writing off Breyvic Valera as a batting average-only kind of player. That would be very unfair, especially in May. The Palm Beach second baseman not only batted .361, he took action on the bases. Valera was second in steals, tied for fourth in runs scored and perhaps most impressively, tied for third in RBI. In other words, it was a very balanced performance.

All things considered, had Grichuk not been my selection, I think I would have given the May nod to Valera, from among this very diverse group of candidates.

2014 monthly award winners

  Pitcher of Month Pitcher of Month Starter of Month Reliever of Month  
2014 The Cardinal Nation Cards organization The Cardinal Nation The Cardinal Nation 2014
April    Tim Cooney Nick Petree Justin Wright April 
May Chris Perry       May
June         June
July         July
Aug         Aug
           
  Player of Month        
2014 The Cardinal Nation Cards organization     2014
April  James Ramsey Jonathan Rodriguez     April 
May Randal Grichuk       May
June         June
July         July
Aug         Aug

Update: On Tuesday afternoon, the Cardinals organization also named Grichuk its Player of the Month.

Coming soon

Our second monthly update to the Cardinals top 40 prospect rankings is coming Wednesday, exclusively for TCN subscribers.

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Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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