With Increased Pressure to Perform, How Will Randal Grichuk Fare in 2016?

Over the last two seasons, Randal Grichuk has been one of the more peculiar players on the Cardinals roster. He has shown signs of a looming superstar, but also struggled with inconsistencies and various injury issues. Although Grichuk has dealt with ups and downs, General Manager John Mozeliak showed a lot of faith in him by trading Jon Jay to San Diego and opting not to sign Jason Heyward.

Now, many Cardinals fans wonder what it will take for Grichuk to live up to these expectations. Will he have to replicate Heyward’s numbers? Does he have to perform better than Stephen Piscotty? Will he be the next Jim Edmonds?

There are also plenty of doubters about Grichuk. Some believe that he won’t be able to live up to the hype, while others see him as the next star of St. Louis. If you look at Grichuk’s numbers, the potential is clear. In his 2015 rookie season, Grichuk produced a slash line of .276/.329/.548 with a 3.2 WAR, 17 home runs, and 23 doubles. He also finished with 7 triples, which put him at 5th in the National League.

But, there were also some scary numbers in the mix. Grichuk struck out 110 times, which is a number that definitely has to be cut down soon. He recorded 21 more strikeouts than hits, which is never good. In order to become the superstar that Cardinals fans believe he can be, he will need to make strides in his plate discipline.

Another season full of injuries would be just awful for Grichuk, as it would really stunt his development and probably take away some wins from the Cardinals. Hopefully he has put in the time over the offseason to improve his durability and make sure his body is ready to withstand the 162-game grind that is the MLB regular season.

Jim Edmonds has reportedly been working with Grichuk in center field so far in spring training, which is definitely a good sign. If Grichuk could even take little pieces of what Edmonds teaches him and apply them on the field, he will be a much-improved center fielder this year. Hopefully he has been listening, because that kind of advice does not come around too often.

Overall, I believe that Grichuk will not be an absolute superstar this year, but I also see him taking advantage of the opportunity in front of him. If Grichuk can hit over 20 home runs, play in 125 or 130 games, and get his strikeouts back in double digits, it will be a solid 2016. I expect his batting average to consistently hover around .280, which is solid. In any case, I am very excited to see how Grichuk will perform this season while he’s under a little bit more of a spotlight than he has been in the past.