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Cardinals Position in Review: Second Base

Cardinals Second Base Review

Second base was a mixed bag for the Cardinals this year. Four players saw more than nine innings at first base this year. So, how did they do?

Today, we take a look at second base, a position in flux for the Cardinals this year. Second base was home to struggles, injuries, surprises and a lot of dingers. Lets take a look at how the second baseman performed in 2016.

Matt Carpenter

The All-star super utility infielder was back at it again this year, posting a slash line of .271/.380/.505 and a 3.4 WAR. Carpenter played 318.0 innings at second base with 4 errors. His offense was stellar as usual. Carpenter continually pumps out amazing numbers at almost machinelike consistency. Once again he put up above average strikeout and walk numbers and had his 5th year in a row with an OPS+ over 100. No matter where he plays on the diamond, you can count on Carpenter to put up good numbers with the bat.

Carpenter played his second most innings at 2nd base, and while his defense wasn’t awful it was by no means excellent. Carpenter’s value on the field comes from his ability to play multiple positions, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he plays all of these positions at a stellar level. His dWAR was -0.7 according to baseball reference.

He had -8 dRS(Defensive Runs saved Above Average) and a -5.9 UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) at second base specifically. The numbers don’t look too great defensively but on the plus side they’re not getting worse, so Carpenter isn’t showing signs of aging any time soon. Expect Carpenter to bring more of the same next year in his age 31 season.

The Future of Kolten Wong in the Cardinals Organization

Greg Garcia

According to wikipedia Greg Garcia’s nickname is Greg “OBP” Garcia. He lived up to his questionably deserved nickname this year slashing .276/.393./.369 in 214 AB while splitting time between the Major Leagues and AAA Memphis. In fact, his walk rate (14.8%) was 7% higher than the league average walk rate while his strikeout rate was just around league average.

Although his performance at the plate was much maligned by Cardinals fans this year, he played about as well as a bench player should. Matheny often put Garcia in situations he was probably unprepared for, or where another player would have suited better. The “Blame the Manager” mantra has been used many times this year (deservedly so) but it especially applies with Matheny’s poor handling of Garcia as a bench player.

In the field, Garcia was again not as bad as many perceived him to be, especially at second base. He committed 2 errors in 150.2 innings with an UZR of 1.6 and 1 dRS. Much like Carpenter, Garcia’s value comes from playing multiple positions (2B, SS, 3B) and not his stellar defense at those positions. If the Cardinals decide to keep Garcia for next season, they’ll have a valuable player that should stay away from playing major innings.

Jedd Gyorko

The true hero of second base, Jedd Gyorko, came in with the intention of shoring up the infield bench in the event of injury or rest. Out of nowhere, Gyorko slashed .243/.306/.495 with 59 RBI’s despite smashing 30 HRs. There has only been one other player in baseball history to hit 30 HR and have as few RBIs as Gyorko. That player is Curtis Granderson this year. Baseball is weird. Anyways, it goes without saying that Gyorko had an impressive season at the plate this year.

After struggling for the past couple years, Gyroko found some of his rookie year magic and became a valuable second baseman this year for the Cardinals. He had an OPS+ of 110, struck out less, and walked more. There’s been a lot of talk about whether Gyorko’s success was been smoke and mirrors, but regardless he was able to find a lot of success at the plate with the Cardinals this year.

In the field, Gyorko has a similar story to the previous second baseman. Second base was probably his best defensive position this year. He committed 1 error in 337.2 innings at second with 6 dRS and an UZR of 4.9. Again, while these numbers aren’t gold glove level, Gyorko is valuable because he can also play third, shortstop, and he even played 64 innings at first. If the Cardinals don’t trade Gyorko this year, hopefully he has a limited role at second next year. While his season was impressive, it’s unlikely that it will repeat itself.

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Kolten Wong

Finally, the enigma of second base, Kolten Wong. Wong has played the majority of the innings at second for the past three season, but his innings dropped severely from 2015 to 2016. He missed 41 games due to injury and being sent down to triple A in June. Still, the 25 year old slashed .240/.327/.355 with an OPS+ of 83 and a WAR of 1.5.

Wong’s season at the plate was lackluster to say the least, but he is still pretty young and was battling injuries as well. The Cardinals have already anointed him the second baseman of the future after starting him there for 140 games in 2015. Not to mention the huge extension he signed this March. Hopefully, Wong can improve at the plate coming into 2017 and solidify the second base position.

Wong is the only player on this list that doesn’t regularly play multiple positions, so it comes as no surprise that he is was one of the better second baseman on the team. Wong committed 8 errors in 635.1 innings at second base. He also saved 5 defensive runs and had an UZR of 4.5. Wong was also one of the few Cardinals to be a plus on the base-paths, posting positive base running runs above average and going 7-7 in stolen base attempts. Wong did not take as much of a step forward as many in the organization had hoped this year, but he’s still young enough to prove valuable in the coming years.

Grade: B

Second base wasn’t a standout position for the Cardinals this year, but it wasn’t a hindrance either. Injuries to Kolten Wong only yielded Jedd Gyorko, dinger mashing monster, and Matt Carpenter, ultimate super utility infielder. However, the injuries to Wong also opened up some defensive issues as well as a lack of an every day second baseman. With Kolten Wong healthy for next year there should be no reason for the Cardinals to seek out second base help this winter, especially if Gyorko and Garcia are coming back.

Photo Credit: Scott Rovak- USA Today

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