Tommy Pham says he will be a 30/30 hitter in 2018, but how likely is it that he reaches this goal?
Cardinals baseball is almost here. Pitchers and catchers report one week from the time of this writing. Hopefully, an exciting season awaits, and hopefully, the Cardinals make it back to the playoffs. Let’s take a quick look at one of the impact players for the Cardinals in 2018.
Tommy Pham is poised for a huge season. It’s very possible that he will be the first Cardinals player ever to record a 30/30 season. He has said that “I believe that I could be a really special player,” and there’s no doubt that the Cardinals will be having a great season if he can accomplish the feat.
Half of the battle is the stolen base component. Pham is an electric player because he actually can steal bases. In recent years, the Cardinals have been both hesitant to steal, as well as bad when it comes to successful thefts.
Last year, Pham was able to swipe 25 bases in only 128 games. Given the playing time, there is no reason why he won’t continue to be great on the basepaths. In general, runners in scoring position generate runs, so there is no reason for Cardinals manager Mike Matheny to deter him from attempting.
Pham is ready to to show that he deserves the roster spot in 2018, after having trouble making the Opening Day roster in years past. While 2016 got off to a successful start, he was placed on the Disabled List just two games into the season.
His teammates say he has been working on speed this offseason, and he hopes to start the year off with a bang. Luke Weaver even compared him to Yadier Molina, saying “Yadi is the godfather, but Pham is going to closely follow that down the road.”
It helps that he will get to hit in front of new offseason acquisition Marcell Ozuna. More focus on the batter leaves the pitcher less time to worry about baserunners. Furthermore, getting to second base is more beneficial when you have guys behind you to get hits, and drive you in.
The other component of the 30/30 club is, of course, the long ball. Pham looks to be hitting second behind Matt Carpenter to start the season. He was able to hit twenty six home runs in the 128 games he played last season, so with a healthy season, he should be able to get to thirty.
Hitting behind Carpenter is key as well, as Carpenter is one of the best hitters in the MLB at drawing walks and getting on base. If Pham does indeed launch 30 home runs or more, it’s pretty likely that Carpenter will be on first base in front of him for at least a few of those long balls.
It might be harder to hit home runs in Busch given that it is a slight pitcher’s park according to ESPN. The only stat favorable to hitters is that strikeouts are slightly lower than league average, although that does not really affect Pham’s home run ability. The three games in well known Coors Field, which tends to turn baseball bats into trampolines, could possibly make the slight advantage to pitchers at Busch a moot point.
One of the main obstacles for Pham has been his inability to stay healthy. He’s been injured in Spring Training, and right at the beginning of the season. He continually makes solid progress only to wind up back on the Disabled List. While it is not something that is one hundred percent controllable, Pham seems ready to put his body in a position to thrive and stay healthy this season.
If he can stay healthy, Pham can be a star for the Cardinals. When a player dials in and commits to staying focused, it can be hard to get outs against him. When teammates compare him to Yadi, it shows the character he has.
Pham is driven and ready to play well in this season. The Cardinals seem committed to giving Pham every opportunity to shine, and as long as he stays on the field, he should be able to reach his goal. He was so close last season despite his limited playing time. One thing is certain, he will get his chance this year.
The better he plays, the safer his spot in the lineup is, and as long as he stays out of the fifth spot in the lineup, or lower, then he should be able to steal bases at a rate the Cardinals have severely been missing in recent years.
Photo Captured By Charles LeClaire – USA Today Sports