As baseball season nears, the United Cardinal Bloggers are getting anxious for the upcoming season and all that it has in store. This month, we are participating in a roundtable. Someone asks a question in the morning; everyone fires off an answer at some point in the day.
My question, which fell on February 26:
With Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk slated to play daily, who do you think will mean the most to the Cardinals in 2016 and why?
Kevin Reynolds (Stl Cards ‘N Stuff): I’m going to go with Piscotty. I value Grichuk’s power, and it’s certainly going to mean quite a bit to the offense, but Piscotty bears enough of a resemblance to Matt Carpenter — high average, high OBP, consistency, and doubles-to-homer power — that he could theoretically help the Cardinals use Carpenter himself in a more productive role. If Piscotty can be who we think he can be this season, he could hit two and justify a longer look for Kolten Wong at leadoff. That kind of arrangement would allow Carpenter to hit third. In other words, Piscotty’s consistent OBP, etc. in the two-spot could make up for some transitional performance by Wong at leadoff. Without Piscotty at two, however, the Cardinals may not be able to give Wong a long enough look at leadoff to trust making a change.
Daniel Shoptaw (C70 At The Bat): They are both going to be very important, there’s no doubt about it. I think you could flip a coin here and get the right answer no matter how it landed, but I’m going to go with Grichuk. I like what Kevin is saying and that makes sense, but if Carpenter is going to try to meld his 2014 and 2015 together, there’s going to be a need for someone to go boom and Grichuk is most likely that guy. We’ve seen a lot of rallies die on the vine because it took 3 hits to get anyone in. A productive Grchuk could make that much less of an issue.
Dan Buffa (Redbird Rants): I’m going to go with Piscotty and that’s not an easy choice. Grichuk has a big power stroke that got unleashed over a 40 day course last year before he got hurt, and it can be game changing. However, if I am a betting man and need to pick the higher probability, I like Stephen for a number of reasons. He can spray the ball to all fields, is capable of going deep, can play multiple positions(A Righty at First Base who Is Not Holliday!), and really picked this team up last year. He was the only Bird with a pulse in the postseason and should make adjustments going forward that make him valuable. Health comes into play as well, because you aren’t sure how much of Randal you’ll get before he gets hurt or his elbow blows up. Piscotty offers the highest overall OPS potential and has a hitting style that isn’t reliant on power but can produce it.
Tom Knuppel(Cardinals GM): I am leaning towards Grichuk and his power bat. Piscotty has the tools but he needs more time for me to be sold.
Jon Doble (Redbird Dugout): You know, there’s a lot to like about both players and I don’t know that one will be much more important than the other. Both played critical roles in 2015 when they were in the lineup for the Cardinals. Both put up very similar numbers (Grichuk’s 133 OPS+ to Piscotty’s 129 OPS+), albeit in very different ways. But even still, both get their fair share of extra base hits.
Piscotty is that smart bet that will give you a dependable return while Grichuk has a little higher risk, but a lot higher reward based on what he’s shown you so far.
I’m pretty confident that Piscotty should be able to hit about .280 with about 15 home runs this coming season. While I feel like Grichuk could really do anything between .240 and 10 HR to .280 and 30 HR.
Going into last season, I was really high on Grichuk’s abilities and predicted that he’d take over the starting center field job by the end of the year. I think we saw enough that that would have been true had he been healthy at the end of the year.
So I’m going to stick with him again this year and say that Grichuk will mean the most to the Cardinals in 2016.
In many ways, he is different than any other hitter the Cardinals have. Look around the lineup and you’ll see Carpenter, Holliday, Molina, and Peralta. All are guys who I feel are just hitters who happen to hit the occasional home run. Meanwhile, Grichuk is more of a home run hitter who hits the occasional double. That’s why I think he’ll mean the most to the Cardinals.
Mark Tomasik (RetroSimba): Because Stephen Piscotty is replacing Jason Heyward, I give Piscotty the edge over Randal Grichuk, who is replacing Jon Jay. My thinking is that Heyward will be more difficult to replace than Jay, thus Piscotty’s ability to succeed likely will mean the most to the Cardinals in 2016.
Matt Whitener (Cheap.Seats.Please): I think it is Piscotty due to the fact that he already is in such a pivotal position for the team. He will be slotted into the one of the upper positions in the lineup more than likely, so he holds crucial importance in regards to igniting the team’s offense.
If he is hitting second, his production is key to either ensuring Matt Carpenter (or Kolten Wong) sees pitches, via the regard a pitcher must take for him waiting on deck. If he gets the bump to leadoff, then it goes without saying his importance. Long-term, more than anybody else currently, Piscotty seems destined to be a #3 guy in the lineup (perhaps even as soon as later this year), and with him replacing such a diverse and important part of the Cardinal offense a year ago in Heyward, his bat carries vital importance to the balance of the Cardinal attack from day one.
An underrated element of Piscotty is his defense as well. He could very well settle into being the same type of smooth, rangy guy that the older Cardinal Carlos Beltran was. That is of high importance, and after the aforementioned Carpenter, it could stand to reason that a successful Piscotty is more important to the Cardinal lineup than any one else by season’s end.
Thanks for reading.