More than a month ago, I took a look at several Cardinals hitters who had limited avenues to big league playing time by virtue of the team’s veteran roster. The sudden likelihood of a universal DH gives those players another notable chunk of at-bats to display their MLB readiness. The Cardinals’ depth perhaps makes it unlikely that they’ll go with one or even two players as their primary DH like the D-backs will, but they’ll be able to cycle through a blend of veteran and rookie options in a matchup-based approach.
Matt Carpenter graded out well at the hot corner both in Defensive Runs Saved (+5) and Outs Above Average (+6) last year. But as he approaches his 35th birthday, he could see some more time at the DH slot or at first base on days when Paul Goldschmidt needs a breather. Either scenario makes it easier to slot Tommy Edman in at the hot corner. The 25-year-old Edman was the Cardinals’ 2019 out-of-nowhere breakout du jour — they have one every year, it seems — and manager Mike Shildt will want him in the lineup as much as possible after he hit .304/.350/.500 in 349 plate appearances.
Given Edman’s ability to play virtually anywhere on the field, though, he’d have been worked into the mix regularly with or without a DH. That’s less true of young outfielders like Tyler O’Neill and Lane Thomas, who were vying for at-bats in left field in the wake of Marcell Ozuna’s departure. O’Neill has long been awaiting a legitimate opportunity in the Majors. Soon to turn 25, he’s shown some swing-and-miss throughout his career but has clear light-tower power. Thomas is more defense-oriented than O’Neill but has had his share of success at the plate in the upper minors, too.
The Cardinals’ trade of Jose Martinez this winter may seem ill-timed now, as he’d have been well-suited for DH duties, but part of the reason for the trade may have been that the club believes in the also-right-handed bat of 28-year-old Rangel Ravelo — an out-of-options first baseman/outfielder who was squarely behind Goldschmidt on the depth chart. Despite a .293/.369/.452 slash in 1652 Triple-A plate appearances, Ravelo only has 49 big league plate appearances. That number wouldn’t have gone up much as a pure bench bat, so the implementation of a DH slot in the NL would be music to his ears. Waiver claim Austin Dean, another right-handed bat with a big Triple-A track record, carries a similar skill set. The left-handed-hitting Justin Williams is yet another option.
Of course, the player who excites Cards fans the most is top prospect Dylan Carlson, a 21-year-old 2016 first-rounder who ranks among the game’s very best prospects. Carlson was hoping to break camp with the Cards and might’ve been a long shot, but the uncertain minor league season could make him likelier to land on the Major League roster and get his at-bats in left or center. The addition gives the Cards the opportunity to get a look at Carlson without those at-bats coming at the direct expense of O’Neill, Thomas, Ravelo and Edman. Carlson surely would’ve gotten a lengthy audition sooner than later, but a DH allows the organization to evaluate him and other young options in simultaneous fashion that would’ve otherwise been difficult in the past.
With Edman and Brad Miller filling versatile super-utility roles, plus several intriguing younger and/or inexperienced bats who have been waiting for a chance (Carlson, O’Neill, Ravelo, Thomas, etc.), the Cards should be able to find a productive mix.
Whatever. Every team has choices at DH.
And some have more than others.
Quantity does not equal quality.
I have a sudden need to ask which direction the beach is
Why does MLB insist on monkeying with the game? Baseball became great without the DH. Leave the game alone and PLAY!
Baseball changes. It’s evolved since it was first started back in the 1870s.
Hell, you even currently watch games where both NL and AL teams use the DH and have been since 1997 when interleague first started. Guarantee you watched the world series where the NL team also uses the DH.
In fact, the Nationals benefitted greatly from being able to use the DH in the WS last year cause it meant keeping Howie Kendrick’s bat in the lineup, but more importantly keeping him fresh not having to put him in the field. https://www.mlb.com/news/nationals-designated-hitter-world-series
I seriously doubt Kendrick would have gotten tired over the course of 4 games standing at 1b.
Because some things are meant to change, even though there are also some that aren’t.
Carp should be the DH until they bring Carlson up
stan lee the manly
It’s been reported that there is a next to zero chance that Carlson doesn’t start the year in St. Louis.
When will that be?
LF: Tyler O’Neil / Lane Thomas
Carpenter rotates in at DH to keep the OFers fresh. Or Carpenter just sits. Either or.
Brixton, if you think they are going to pay Carpenter $19M to sit on the bench, you must have forgotten who runs this team.
ive never gotten this logic. youre paying him either way. if he’s not providing value then why have him take up ABs?
Dark side, it’s not my logic. It’s the logic of idiot baseball executives all over the league. It’s an ego thing. It would mean admitting they were wrong in signing a player to that much money.
Carpenter is a much better hitter than Fowler. Fowler needs to sit, not Carpenter.
Both were below average hitters in 2019.
Don’t think you linked to the right Dylan Carlson, unless the pitcher from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University turned into a stud prospect during spring training.
“Baseball is a game between two teams of nine players each…”. Rule 1.01.
It doesn’t say nine or ten. Yes later they include the DH wording, but that’s just a misprint is a broken copy of the rule book.
You’re arguing what the rules say. They’re trying to change the rules.
Agreed. But they’ve been using the stupid rule since 1973. IMHO The DH just takes so much out of the game.
Sabermetrics takes so much out of the game too.
then dont look at them?
You do realize sabermetrics influences IN GAME decisions like defensive shifts on the infield, outfield alignment, and even started this whole swing at a higher angle (launch angle) right?
SI did a wonderful piece on launch angle
Do you not realize shifts were happening as far back as the 1940s? Teams tried to shift on Ted Williams. And the launch angle crap has turned the game into HR or Strikeouts. Thanks for making my point.
I was replying to darkside not you. Saying don’t look at sabermetrics doesn’t stop teams from using them.
And you realize defensive shifts have been utilized more often the last 10-15 years than they ever were from 1870 till analytics took over.
I don’t remember those shifts completely abandoning the 3B side of the infield and putting a guy in shallow OF. Plus shifting on one of the greatest hitters ever is different than shifting on a lefty slugger trying to induce a GB.
It’s strategy vs. entertainment. Managers making decisions about bat vs. pitcher in different situations. Those are for intellectual fans. Today’s kids have 4 second attention spans. A pitcher at bat is close to a guaranteed out. Kids will lose interest instantly. They will get on their i-Pad and may not come back.
As kid, I remember them calling it the “Ted Williams” shift when Mo Vaughn hit and then we called it the “mo Vaughn” shift for everyone else.
I hit 205 HRs one summer.
No roids lol.
All these exciting DH options yet none can unseat Dexter Fowler
vincent k. mcmahon
Well considering himself, carpenter, and a few other high paid guys, I see why he gets to play even though he’s terrible on the field and with the bat.
It’s not that they can’t “unseat” Fowler. It goes back to my earlier comment about the stupidity of teams playing guys BECAUSE they get paid big money.
Holy smokes why bring up Matt Carpenter? The guy stinks,,,, already!
For the most part, I think offensive advanced metrics are a reliable tool. However if defensive advanced metrics suggests Carp is an asset in the field, well then I think that should tell you all you need to know about how far the analysis in terms of calculating defensive output needs to VASTLY improve.
I mean the man literally shot puts the ball over to first (the only position he should play in the field) base & at the same time, struggles to move laterally!
Carp is definitely an above average hitter but the other side of the equation leaves something to be desired…
ban the shift
Call this something else because it’s not Baseball