Projected year-to-year performance of St. Louis Cardinals offensive players cause some concern.

BaseballHQ’s projections for year-to-year performance of the St. Louis Cardinals position players for 2017 cause some concern. Conclusion of a two-part series.

In Part 1 of this two-part annual series, we looked at the projections for the pitchers expected to play front-line roles on the 2017 St. Louis Cardinals using data from BaseballHQ’s Baseball Forecaster.

Please see the earlier article for all the disclaimers about from where the data came and how it should be used. Suffice it to say that the Forecaster has been the leading publication of its kind for over a quarter of a century for good reason.

The $26.95 is well spent, and for that price you get a downloadable version, too. Buy the Forecaster here.

2017 Projections vs. 2016 Actuals* and 2016 Projections - St. Louis Cardinals Offense

Counting Proj Act Proj   Proj Act Proj   Proj Act Proj
stats AB AB AB   HR HR HR   RBI RBI RBI
Year 16 16 17   16 16 17   16 16 17
Adams 424 297 326   17 16 15   62 54 52
Carpenter 579 473 549   19 21 28   75 68 81
Diaz   404 502     17 19     65 65
Fowler   581 594     13 15     48 48
G Garcia* 159 318 155   2 3 3   12 23 11
Grichuk 529 527 497   25 28 26   68 81 70
Gyorko 523 400 517   19 30 27   68 59 72
Molina 525 534 458   8 8 8   68 58 53
Peralta 546 289 389   15 8 11   69 29 45
Pham* 161 283 284   3 12 9   19 30 32
Piscotty 519 582 549   16 22 20   61 85 71
Wong* 528 341 420   10 8 7   52 31 41
                       
Departed                      
Counting Proj Act Proj   Proj Act Proj   Proj Act Proj
stats AB AB AB   HR HR HR   RBI RBI RBI
Year 16 16 17   16 16 17   16 16 17
Hazelbaker*   240 161     13 7     35 19
Holliday 491 382 376   13 20 16   81 62 56
Moss 441 413 445   21 28 26   61 67 67
                       
* incl MiLB                      
                       
Rate Proj Act Proj   Proj Act Proj   Proj Act Proj
stats AVG AVG AVG   OBP OBP OBP   SLG SLG SLG
Year 16 16 17   16 16 17   16 16 17
Adams 0.265 0.249 0.248   0.305 0.309 0.299   0.447 0.471 0.449
Carpenter 0.277 0.271 0.278   0.367 0.380 0.374   0.460 0.505 0.520
Diaz   0.300 0.274     0.369 0.348     0.510 0.461
Fowler   0.276 0.269     0.393 0.377     0.447 0.434
G Garcia* 0.230 0.254 0.242   0.311 0.348 0.338   0.328 0.331 0.357
Grichuk 0.253 0.237 0.255   0.300 0.277 0.299   0.479 0.472 0.498
Gyorko 0.244 0.243 0.248   0.289 0.306 0.308   0.394 0.495 0.441
Molina 0.277 0.307 0.285   0.320 0.360 0.335   0.383 0.427 0.403
Peralta 0.272 0.260 0.263   0.335 0.307 0.318   0.411 0.408 0.414
Pham* 0.257 0.212 0.236   0.313 0.299 0.318   0.399 0.379 0.390
Piscotty 0.261 0.273 0.262   0.315 0.343 0.325   0.430 0.457 0.438
Wong* 0.261 0.249 0.253   0.314 0.322 0.322   0.375 0.383 0.373
                       
Departed                      
Rate Proj Act Proj   Proj Act Proj   Proj Act Proj
stats AVG AVG AVG   OBP OBP OBP   SLG SLG SLG
Year 16 16 17   16 16 17   16 16 17
Hazelbaker   0.236 0.224     0.301 0.283     0.458 0.425
Holliday 0.266 0.246 0.260   0.369 0.322 0.350   0.428 0.461 0.453
Moss 0.233 0.225 0.226   0.317 0.300 0.303   0.436 0.484 0.454
                       
* incl MiLB                      

* Major league equivalent Triple-A stats are included, so 2016 numbers for these players are not true actuals.

What suggestions might one try to draw from this?  (The following are my comments, gleaned from the Forecaster and augmented by my own thought processes.)

 

Catchers

Yadier Molina’s age-defying 2016 results give HQ “a little more confidence in him again”. Yet even so, his projections are down slightly across the board. At age 34-35, this is to be expected.

http://www.scout.com/player/67461-yadier-molina?s=321

Brayan Pena lost his relevance and his spot in the Forecaster while Eric Fryer and Carson Kelly are not included for very different reasons.

 

Infielders

Matt Adams remains a health risk and while his 25 home run-upside is mentioned again, there seems little confidence he will ever achieve it. Matt Carpenter was considered to be on his way to a career-best season in 2016 before his oblique injury and the Forecaster sees “further untapped HR potential”. Seems like a middle of the order move could help.

http://www.scout.com/player/156983-kolten-wong?s=321

Kolten Wong is expected to make a slight uptick from year to year. Though the annual 20 home runs, 20 steals upside is mentioned, their thought of Wong earning a spot near the top of the lineup seems unfounded. HQ thinks Jedd Gyorko’s 25+ home run power “quite possibly” is here to stay, but Greg Garcia’s impact is forecasted to be minimal.   

http://www.scout.com/player/36533-jhonny-peralta?s=321

On one hand, the Forecaster likes Aledmys Diaz’ power and stolen base upside, but expects nowhere another .300 batting average season from the shortstop. HQ calls Jhonny Peralta, a “competent contributor at the corner”. His numbers are slightly better than his injury-plagued 2016, but he is far from an elite player at his position.

 

Outfielders

Though the Forecaster teases with Randal Grichuk’s 35 home run upside, the projection is two less than in 2016. There could be some batting average improvement, though.

http://www.scout.com/player/142090-randal-grichuk?s=321

HQ liked Stephen Piscotty’s first half last season better than the second – and who would argue with that? What is notable is they do not expect the right fielder to make a step forward in 2017.

http://www.scout.com/player/88993-dexter-fowler?s=321

Newcomer Dexter Fowler is considered “stable” with “elite” on-base skills, but warns against hoping for more, seeing any upside as a potential “bonus”. Tommy Pham continues to look for ways to earn at-bats, same as always.

 

Newcomers

Two years after both Cardinals among the Forecaster’s list of MLB’s top 75 impact prospects for the coming year were outfielders in Grichuk and Piscotty, there are no new offensive impact players listed for the second year in a row. Though they missed on Diaz last year, we all did. I cannot argue with their 2017 conclusion, though. We will look for Kelly and Harrison Bader next year, perhaps.

The departed

Not surprisingly, HQ does not see a big bounce back coming from former Cardinals Matt Holliday and Brandon Moss, though it does see the latter able to repeat his 2016 performance. Brayan Pena was dropped from the 2017 Forecaster, almost certainly not by mistake.

 

In closing

There is not a lot of optimism or pessimism with the 2017 Cardinals offensive projections. It is mostly just more of the same.

Carpenter is really the only member of the offense expected to deliver additional pop, with the reason being improved health. Diaz is down for a couple more home runs, but with 25 percent more at-bats, it is actually a lower rate.

While outfielders Grichuk and Piscotty are projected to be down in RBI, that slack will be covered with more from Gyorko, Wong and Peralta, according to the forecaster.

Still, overall, there seems little upside with no future offensive stars close to contributing. With this data as a baseline, it is difficult to see how the team will score substantially more runs than in 2016. Instead, more offensive inconsistency could be just ahead.

For graciously sharing their data as they do each year at this time, thank you again to my friends at BaseballHQ.com.

 

Part 1: “BaseballHQ Predicts 2017 Cardinals Pitchers“

 

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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