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The Cardinals’ 2017 Season, Surprises and Disappointments

Cardinals' 2017 Season Alex Hsieh/ via Flickr.com

MLB

Cardinals’ 2017 Season

The Cardinals’ 2017 season was often appropriately deemed a roller coaster ride.  Injuries, underperformances, over achievers, and a bad division made for an interesting season.  Unfortunately, for the second straight season, the Cardinals last game was number 162.

Surprises

Despite only winning 83 games, and placing third in their division, the Cards had a few bright spots.  The most obvious, perhaps, is Tommy Pham.  Aside from Pham though, Paul DeJong, Jose Martinez, and Luke Weaver all over performed as well.

Tommy Pham

Even though he did not break spring training with the Major League club, Pham was one of the best players in the National League, and had one of the best seasons in recent Cardinal history.  Tommy was brought up after an early season injury, and made the most of the opportunity.  In 128 games, he posted a slash line of .306/.411/.520.  He also hit 23 home runs, drove in 75 runs, and stole 25 bases.  It was the first time since 2004 that the Cardinals had the coveted 20/20 player.  As for the sabermetric stats, he put up a wRC+ of 148, and a wOBA .398.

Pham’s impressive performance did not stop on the offensive side of the ball.  His defense was also a major asset to the team all season long.  He accumulated 13 defensive runs saved in the outfield, and a UZR of 7.9.  He also finished with the fourth best WAR in the National League at 6.1.

Paul DeJong

Not many people expected Paul DeJong to make his Major League debut this season, let alone put up the numbers that he did.  He helped solidify the defense up the middle, and provided some pop in the lineup.  After watching Aledmys Diaz for so long this season, DeJong’s average defense at short seemed more like Gold Glove defense, and his bat was just a bonus.  Had it not been for Cody Bellinger, DeJong would have had a compelling case for Rookie of the Year.  He belted a home run in his first ever at bat, and followed it up with 24 more.  He did not walk much, and struck out a lot, but still had a .285 average, a wRC+ of 122, a .359 wOBA, and a 2.5 WAR.

Jose Martinez

Jose Martinez had a nice spring, and started the season in St. Louis.  However, he was not expected to play the role that he did, especially down the stretch.  He played so well, he has earned a chance at the starting job at first base next season.  In 106 games, Martinez slugged 14 home runs, and had a .309/.379/.518 slash line.  He accumulated a 1.3 WAR, and posted a 135 wRC+ and a .379 wOBA.

Luke Weaver

Luke Weaver was expected to make an impact on the big league club at some point this season.  However, he was not expected to make as big of an impact as he did, and guarantee himself a starting spot for next season.  Weaver proved all he could at the Triple-A level, and then proved a lot more in the second half of the Cardinals season.  Weaver won his first seven starts of 2017, before dropping his final two.  He boasted a 3.88 ERA, 10.74 strikeouts per nine innings, a 3.17 FIP, and a 1.4 WAR, over 60 and one third innings.

Disappointments

There were more disappointments in the Cardinals’ 2017 season than the organization saw coming.  That was made obvious by multiple moves, from releasing Johnny Peralta and Jonathon Broxton, to sending Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk to Triple-A, and trading Mike Leake to Seattle.  Though there are far more than these, Piscotty, Diaz, Brett Cecil, and Carlos Martinez really stand out among the biggest disappointments.

Stephen Piscotty

Between off the field personal concerns and a failed attempt to tweak his swing, Piscotty had an abysmal year.  It was not the kind of year the Front Office wanted to see, after extending Stephen’s contract for six years and $33 million.  The opening day right fielder played so poorly that he was sent to Triple-A in early August.  He played in just 107 games, and had a slash line of .235/.342/.367.  The initial plan was for Piscotty to be the team’s clean up hitter, but he was only able to drive in 39 runs, and only hit 9 home runs.  He also had a less than impressive wRC+ of 92, and a .5 WAR.

Aledmys Diaz

Another opening day starter, Aledmys Diaz played his way right off the team.  Diaz finished the year with just 79 games played, some of them coming in late September.  Diaz slashed .259/.290/.392, hit just 7 home runs and only drove in 20 runs.  He had a WAR of -0.8, a wRC+ at 78, and a .291 wOBA.  He lost the starting job to DeJong for 2017, and likely for 2018 as well.

Brett Cecil

Brett Cecil was supposed to solidify the Cards pen.  That is why he was given $30.5 million last offseason.  Unfortunately, Cecil became one of Mike Matheny’s worst options out of the pen.  He salvaged his ERA with a decent stretch in the middle of the season, but still finished at 3.88.  He also lost four games, and finished with a WAR of 0.4.

Carlos Martinez

It says a lot about a player when his season is deemed a disappointment, despite starting 32 games, throwing 205 innings, winning 12 games, striking out 217 batters, and posting a 3.64 ERA.  The reason those numbers were disappointing, is the expectations for Martinez were so high.  Some people thought he could compete for the Cy Young, and he probably should have.  Unfortunately, he did not, and he failed to pitch well against the Cubs when the Cardinals needed him most.  He was still the ace of the staff, and had a very solid 2017, but the expectations will remain the same for 2018, and the Cards will need him to live up to them.