Sports

St. Louis Cardinals having trouble nurturing homegrown hitters

Someone let Tyler O’Neill and Dylan Carlson know the season has started.

Someone let Tyler O’Neill and Dylan Carlson know the season has began.
Image: Getty Images

A promising offensive prospect cratering again to Earth has grow to be the St. Louis Cardinals’ model of Anchorman’s pancake breakfast: They do it yearly. Tyler O’Neill and Dylan Carlson each confirmed indicators of doubtless being long-term options to two-thirds of the Red Birds’ outfield a season in the past, and to date this yr neither appears to know that the lockout is over.

O’Neill crushed the ball final yr, slugging .560 — good for ninth in all of baseball — and ending with 34 homers and 80 RBIs in 141 video games. When you set collectively that type of season, and meld it along with his thirst-inducing biceps, it will get followers extraordinarily sizzling and intensely bothered. And I’m not speaking about St. Louis-sweat-when-you-step-outside-in-the-summer sizzling, I’m speaking shifting-in-your-seat-trying-to-think-about-anything-else sizzling.

Those desires are significantly much less erotic now given O’Neill’s sluggish begin. He’s seeing much less fastballs this yr, and in flip struggling to duplicate his energy numbers. His .333 slugging proportion isn’t within the prime 10 and even the highest 100 for that matter.

I wouldn’t fairly describe Carlson’s 2021 season as lust-worthy. Hitting .266, with 18 homers and 65 RBIs isn’t setting anybody’s loins ablaze, however he wasn’t “As many doubles as RBIs (4) in 23 games” dangerous. If not for Nolan Arenado’s Player of the Month efficiency in April, St. Louis’ offensive malaise can be a bigger matter of dialog exterior of Missouri.

When you add up the drop-offs in batting averages from this yr to final yr between O’Neill (down .84), Carlson (down .80), and Paul DeJong (down .70), you get a complete lower of .234. That cumulative lower in averages is increased than what any of these three gamers are presently hitting (.202, .186, and .127 respectively). My complicated model of analytics apart, there’s no present iteration of this crew that’s capable of overcome the hitting woes which have plagued their postseasons for years now.

DeJong is the poster boy for regression, as his batting common has dropped every of his six seasons since getting into the league save for the COVID-shortened 2020 season.

It’s early, and St. Louis is fortunate to be 14-10 and tied for fifth in run differential regardless of having the seventeenth greatest offense within the MLB. If you’re a Cardinals fan like myself, you understand all too effectively the sensation of hopelessness that instantly units in when it’s obvious an opposing pitcher is dealing.

All hope of scoring falls to Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt, who’re each unbelievable, however like all nice hitter, they want assist within the lineup. It could possibly be karma catching as much as the Cardinals for all these years of Red Devil Magic, or it could possibly be a problem with growth, one which I’ve screamed about earlier than on this web site.

Perhaps, O’Neill and Carlson are mired in more and more much less minor slumps. Or they’re a part of a pattern of good-yet-stagnating expertise that’s grow to be the norm for St. Louis’ farm system. I discussed O’Neill, Carlson, and DeJong, however Kolten Wong by no means hit the height GM John Mozeliak promised. Randal Grichuk’s two most efficient seasons got here after he was traded away. I’ll give St. Louis a move on Aledmys Diaz as a result of he wasn’t a staple in Houston’s lineup the previous few years. Having stated that, Diaz had as many RBIs (45) final yr because the man who changed him at shortstop, and he performed in 29 fewer video games and had 83 fewer plate appearances than DeJong, as effectively.

I like Tommy Edman and Harrison Bader, too, however any offensive manufacturing from them is a bonus. Cards’ followers have been restlessly checking their watches for years, ready for the following Albert Pujols who was promised to emerge. And re-signing the past-his-prime free agent slugger isn’t what anybody had in thoughts, neither is it going to fill the necessity. If something, the addition of the DH to the NL has solely proven a brighter highlight on the crew’s deficiencies.

I’ll skip the pitching portion of this ‘What the fuck is happening to the Cardinal’s prospects?” piece as a result of their downfalls have largely been resulting from damage, and pitching hasn’t been the explanation for the crew’s postseason failures. If you’re in search of an answer, it’s probably not coming from supervisor Olivier Marmol. It’s not his fault the crew retains hiring from inside and ignoring regardless of the hell is occurring with its homegrown hitters nosediving after being scouted for a yr or two.

Is hitting coach Jeff Albert, who was retained from fired-manager Mike Shildt’s employees, simply urgent play/pause on the sport tape and telling his guys to maintain their eye on the ball? It would clarify rather a lot.

Mozeliak’s acquisitions of Goldschmidt and Arenado have been nice, and he ought to be applauded for fleecing these franchises. St. Louis can’t count on to win a title by making the most of dysfunctional organizations, although, they usually can’t win by throwing buckets of cash at free brokers, both.

I do know it’s early, and there’s nonetheless loads of time for O’Neill and Carlson to bust out of their slumps. If they do, it’ll break with latest custom, however I don’t assume Cardinal followers would take concern with that as a lot as Champ Kind took concern with Ron Burgundy skipping out on just a few flapjacks.

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