The young outfielder will be with the Cardinals for a long time to come
Stephen Piscotty’s inning:
Hit by a pitch
Hit by a throw at second base
Hit in the head by a throw at the plate
— Tom Fornelli (@TomFornelli) April 5, 2017
Before I begin this article I want to make a public service announcement: please stop hitting Stephen Piscotty with baseballs. The man has been through enough after slamming into a wall last season, he doesn’t need people hurling baseballs at his body. Thank you. End of public service announcement.
On Monday, the Cardinals and Stephen Piscotty reached a deal for a 6 year, 33.5 million dollar extension. The move was a slight surprise, as Piscotty was already under team control until 2021, but it was a welcome move to keep one of their young pieces at home.
Piscotty debuted in 2015 and has not looked back since. Although he battled through a couple of injuries last season, Piscotty is still in place to have a solid year and future career with the Cardinals.
Piscotty is already great
In 2015, Piscotty looked like the truth in limited action. In 256 plate appearances he slashed .305/.359/.494 with an OPS+ of 130 and a sixth place finish in rookie of the year. It should be noted that 2015 was a pretty ridiculous year for rookies, with Kris Bryant, Jung Ho Kang, Noah Syndergaard and Joc Pederson all garnering votes as well.
In his sophomore season, things didn’t start off as smoothly. Piscotty slammed into a wall very early in the season, causing a head contusion.
It appeared that Piscotty recovery from the injury was slow, as head injuries are notoriously fickle, especially for baseball players. Piscotty’s performance regressed compared to his rookie year, and some even say he underwent a sophomore slump.
The numbers do not say the same thing. Piscotty slashed .273/.343/.457 in 649 plate appearances to go along with 22 home runs. True, he did have a .247 average in the second, but that may be because he’s never played a full season before. Overall, Piscotty’s sophomore season was superlative, especially from a young player with an early season injury.
If Stephen Piscotty’s extension doesn’t include the opening of a Stephen Biscotti stand at Busch Stadium, everyone should be fired.
— Jesse Spector 📎 (@jessespector) April 3, 2017
Injuries can be worrisome for a young player because those injuries tend to resurface as the player ages. However, one of the few plus sides of a head injury is that they are usually freak accidents. Head injuries don’t compromise the body like an ankle or elbow injury.
If you injure your ankle, you’re much more likely to injure it again because the ankle structure itself has been weakened. In theory, one head injury shouldn’t make you more predisposed to another.
The only problem is people won’t stop hitting Stephen Piscotty with baseballs. He was a victim 3 times in one inning last night. Please stop hitting Stephen Piscotty with baseballs.
The best is yet to come
Look I like reminiscing about rookie Piscotty as much as the next guy, but the reason Piscotty got the cash is not his past performance, but what he can do in the future. We have yet to see the best from Piscotty. I think the Cardinals know that and locked him up as quick as possible. Piscotty’s defense, one of this key weaknesses as a player, improved from his rookie to his sophomore season.
He went from 0 defensive runs saved to 4 in more innings. Piscotty has the speed and length to be at least an average defender, and if he keeps improving he could definitely be above average in the near future. Plus, Piscotty finally has a solid position after being bounced all over the outfield last season.
The offense already speaks for itself. Piscotty has only been in the majors two season, and both seasons he had an OPS+ above 110.
His strikeouts are low and his walks are high while maintaining decent power. All signs point to improvement for Piscotty, and the Cardinals made sure that improvement happened in St. Louis. The Cardinals are committing a lot of money, but it’s definitely well worth it.
Julio Teheran, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Starling Marte are all on similarly valued contracts. It’s pretty easy to argue Piscotty is at least as valuable if not more valuable than all those players (though the Teheran deal is definitely a steal).
Overall, this extension puts the Cardinals in pretty good shape for the future, barring and major collapse. They now have Stephen Piscotty, Yadier Molina, Dexter Fowler, Mike Leake, Matt Carpenter, Brett Cecil, Jedd Gyorko, Carlos Martinez and Kolten Wong through at least 2020, and some of them beyond.
The Cardinals are a team that like to keep consistent team chemistry, and they proved it by going all in on young and old players a like.