Outfield Dilemma …

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    Bob, I highly respevt your posts but if you say DeJong can replace Ozuna then who replaces DeJong?



    A productive Matt Carpenter. The key to the offense is Tommy Edman’s speed at the top.

    AvatarBob Reed


    Thanks, CC. The feeling’s mutual.

    Since there are Baseball-Reference projections up for the 2020 season, they might serve as a rough guideline. Bearing in mind of course that players with abbreviated MLB track records (like Randy Arozarena, Lane Thomas, et. al.) have a significantly wider performance delta, here are some 2020 forecasts in descending order of projected slugging percentage:

    Lane Thomas .503 slugging
    Tommy Edman .484
    Paul DeJong .466
    Tyler O’Neill .464
    Randy Arozarena .452
    Matt Carpenter .451
    Yadi Molina .422
    Kolten Wong .419
    Harry Bader .414
    Delicate Dexter .411

    I excluded Goldy since he’ll almost surely anchor the lineup in the 3-hole. And also Jose Martinez, since he obviously has no business starting for a playoff contender. (Well, if he hits like 2017/18, I guess Martinez can start in RF when an extreme groundball pitcher like Dakota Hudson takes the bump.)

    For the sake of this exercise, if we just take all of the above numbers at face value, next year’s lineup should probably look something like:

    2B Wong
    LF Edman
    1B Goldschmidt
    RF Lane Thomas
    3B Carpenter
    SS DeJong
    C Molina
    CF Bader

    Arozarena and O’Neill would be 4th and 5th outfielders in this scenario — but for me, I’d prefer one of them as the left field starter, and Tommy E. as a super-utility guy who starts four or five days a week all over the diamond depending on matchups and player health.

    And even though Lane Thomas is projected to slug .500+, I’d rather see a month or two of dominant Triple-A performance before anointing him as an MLB starter, much less cleanup hitter.

    So I guess the answer to “who replaces DeJong” in the lineup would be a new left fielder: either Arozarena or O’Neill or Edman. Or just maybe Dylan Carlson. Or Carp if he bounces halfway back to his previous borderline elite level as a batsman. But anyway, the broader point, the bigger point is that it just ain’t that difficult to replace the offense of a corner outfielder with a 106 OPS+ for his Redbird career. Marcell Ozuna was nothing special for the Cards, nothing like the player they thought they were acquiring. And he’ll only get slower and fatter from here.



    The Cardinals have to find a way to unload Fowler and J Martinez. There are a lot of moving parts with Edman, Carlson, Thomas, Arozarena, O’Neill & Bader. They are blocked by Fowler and Martinez.



    I love how J Martinez is characterized as being practically worthless to the Cardinals. Yeah you can run all your stats by but the guy is still a hitter who hits the ball all over so they can’t really position for any particular place. And in the final Chicago 4 game series he was an absolute key to the wins which if you recall were the key to the Cards winning the division with the Brewers nippng at their heels.

    So run him down all you want. In my eyes his fielding was passable about as passable as Ozuna’s who was making multiple times the money. Pinch hitter – yes and he also had his low offense period like all of his teammates but he played a lot better when he batted more than once per game.

    So love him or hate him, I’ll take him on my team every day.



    Based on your analysis the Cardinals should be able to get a lot in trade value.


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    So love him or hate him, I’ll take him on my team every day

    I won’t be mad if he’s on the 2020 Cards, per se, but he’s a pure DH/PH type for this team and even that is a risk for this team. If he’s able to hit like he did earlier in his career, he’s got value. If he’s just average like 2019, then he’s probably better off as trade bait to let the kids have a shot.


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    Therefore, based on both last year and his career, Harry Bader should be the starting centerfielder next season, period. If he maintains his superlative glovework and hits in 2020 as projected by the B-Ref Marcel forecasting system (.240 with 15 homers), he’ll be a 4-4.5 WAR player. And if he only hits like he did in 2019, he’s still worth keeping in the starting lineup. Just bat him near the bottom, and pinch hit late when tied or trailing.

    Bob, I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit this morning. I generally agree that Bader should get every shot to start. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on Thomas and Arozarena. I know that they are in your other post as “projected” starters but I think a lot of people are seeing Lane and Randy as a step down with the glove but a potentially big step up with the bat.

    Personally, I’d be a little surprised if Bader hits .240 with 15 HRs next year but I suppose it’s possible. It seems like that projection is somewhat influenced by the backwash of his strong debut in 2018. Seems like we get burned by that rosy outlook every year or two (Grichuk, Piscotty, Dejong, maybe Edman this coming year).


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    I’m with Minuteman on his analysis of JMartinez. I would just add that he keeps the dugout loose and is the #1 cheerleader. If you say that’s not important, I beg to differ. Just ask the younger players.


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    Edman would bat 3rd in the lineup above. Tommy Edman is very reminiscent of a modern day Tommy Herr as far as I am concerned.

    That is is an excellent comparison Rat! Herr is one of my all time favorites and I can see Edman being like him. In 1985, Herr hit third in the lineup and posted .302avg 8hr 110rbi. Of course he hit behind Coleman and McGee and in front of Jack the Ripper.

    Personally I would like to see Edman be the everyday 3B. That way we would know that our IF is locked down defensively everyday. It would probably be the best defensive IF in the NL.

    So what about Carp? Well I think he should be the rover/utility guy. He could get a few games at 3B, spell Goldy at 1B once in a while, and maybe get some looks in LF. I know Mo threw cold water on the LF idea but why not give it a shot? I don’t think his routes to the ball and throwing arm would be any worse than Ozuna. He might be a good platoon player out there with one of the youngsters.

    So what would my 2020 lineup look like? Assuming JMart is traded and no one of significance is added this winter I would go with:

    1. Fowler RF
    2. Wong 2B
    3. Edman 3B
    4. Goldy 1B
    5. Carp LF
    6. Molina C
    7. Thomas CF
    8. DeJong SS
    9. Pitcher

    Keep in mind I am not a big fan of Fowler and Carp in the lineup but there is no need to pretend they will be on the bench because they won’t be. The Cards can’t tolerate paying big money to someone then not playing them, no matter what the stats say.

    • This reply was modified 10 months ago by Avatargscottar.


    They might not be on the bench at the start of the season but negative performance will put them there.

    AvatarCardinal in France


    I’m one of those who would keep Jose Martinez around. I just like his attitude. Also, he can hit if given semi-regular ABs.

    AvatarBob Reed


    “Bob, I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit this morning. I generally agree that Bader should get every shot to start. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on Thomas and Arozarena. I think a lot of people are seeing Lane and Randy as a step down with the glove but a potentially big step up with the bat.”

    And I agree with those people, stl25. But with some nuance. (Can’t resist the chance to ramble & rant.)

    I see Lane Thomas as a real wildcard at the plate, a guy whose bat could be anywhere from poor to very good. But for me Arozarena feels like a hitter who will definitely hit, if given steady at-bats. Year over year, he’s adjusted beautifully to each level in the minors.

    As for fielding, Randy lacks the instincts for center but should be fine in a corner, and perhaps above average — not unlike Dylan Carlson. Lane Thomas on the other hand can play a solid CF, I think. (Nothing like Bader, though.) And Lane’s feel for baserunning is better than Randy’s. The problems with Lane Thomas? Plate discipline and nagging injuries. And also it kind of seems like his bat stagnated at AAA in 2019. (As opposed to Arozarena.)

    To sum up: In a laboratory setting, where each guy got 600 fully healthy plate appearances per year, I think Bader would be worth ~3.5 WAR per year for the next half decade, and Randy Arozarena and Lane Thomas both in the 2 – 2.5 range. So, the latter two are plausible starters, but potentially excellent bench contributors. (But then, that’s what I thought about Jon Jay, Allen Craig, and Tommy Pham. So don’t listen to me.)


    “Personally, I’d be a little surprised if Bader hits .240 with 15 HRs next year but I suppose it’s possible.”

    I can understand your skepticism. I know that a LOT of Redbird fans have already thrown in the towel on Bader. It is admittedly very hard to watch guys with low batting averages as they struggle day in, day out (regardless of whatever other skills they possess). But if a 33-year-old batter can bounce back from .180 to .238, is it such a stretch for a 25-year-old to go from .205 to .240?

    At any rate, the Marcel projection model used by Baseball-Reference may be rather rudimentary, but to the best of my knowledge it has a track record about as reliable as any of the more sophisticated and oft-cited forecast generators like ZiPS, Steamer and PECOTA. And speaking of Steamer, it predicts Bader will bat .238 and pop a dozen homers — but in barely over 300 AB’s. (B-Ref had him with just under 400 AB’s.)

    So the only two current publicly available forecast models see Bader pretty much exactly the same. And much, much more in line with his overall MLB numbers than his disappointing 2019 campaign.

    Keep the faith, stl25!


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    Thanks for the info, Bob. I’ll be curious how the OF plays out next year. There are certainly plenty of pieces with potential, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see them add a LH bat out there either (unless they see Fowler as a backup/bench bat).


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    As if there were not enough outfielders, along with Carlson, it appears Torres and Machado will Rule 5 eligible next year. Not that Machado would be a threat to be drafted at this point. However, Torres might be on teams radar, if he shows good progress this year.

    In fact, I will go on record saying that Torres moves up to number 2 prospect at some point in 2020, as Carlson should graduate. I like his patience, and power potential along with a strong arm. He is also said to be very willing to learn and listen to his coaches. After a rough start in 2020 at Peoria, he rebounded nicely in Johnson City. He should start in Peoria again this spring.

    Avatar1982 willie


    well if you add all the thoughts and ideas of everyone on this board, it basically adds up that we basically have the same roster this upcoming season as we did the last. now your feelings about that would be determined by whether you think this team over achieved, did about right, or under achieved. given that the pitching was relatively great for the most part, that all narrows to the other members of the team. if you think that a lot of these players that fell off will bounce back, then you would think we under achieved and giving them another shot, we could at the least be in the running to duplicate or better our finish. if you feel we over achieved and don’t really feel some of those players will bounce back, then you may feel we need to change things up a bit. now personally I believe the cardinals should go out and spend that money they are raking in on a great player in his prime not past it. assuming it isn’t a pitcher, that then gives you more options on how to use the other guys. I don’t think the cardinals are gonna spend any of that money in a meaningful way so to me, its best we wait til spring training to sort things out with what we have. assuming no changes, guys like carpenter, bader, fowler, and maybe some others that their positions are theirs to lose but lose them they can whether it be spring or during the season. no more waiting months to make decisions.



    They have to trade at least two of the current OF options, maybe 3 of Carlson will be up in late April.

    Fowler really ruins all plans, if they eat 6.5/year, and get nothing back, wouldn’t they be able to find a team he would accept.

    Arozarena and Thomas >>> Fowler and Bader



    Having been a Memphis Redbird season ticket holder since 2000 I’ve seen pretty much all of the outfielders play. I have to wonder why all the disrespect for Tyler O’Neill? He’s a B+ fielder, can play anywhere out there, made some real nice plays down here, has a better than average arm, can hit a baseball as far as anyone on the planet, has almost Bader like speed and to top it off is just a downright nice kid. I think he deserves a better chance than what the Cardinals have given him. When Ozuna was hurt he wasn’t anymore a liability than anyone else gracing the Busch Stadium outfield. Hitting breaking pitches might work it’s way out if he gets some more at bats.


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    Sheepdawg, O’Neill was the primary starter in LF when Ozuna was out. His plate discipline stats improved, and he was a solid hitter. But then he got hurt. I’d like to see him have a run at a starting gig in the spring too, but we will see if he gets that chance.



    i would like to see LF Oniel.. CF Bader…RF Thomas.. with Fowler (since he has to stay) Platooning RF and Arozorena spelling LF and CF .. Carlson replacing the first one struggling or injured later in the year

    AvatarChristopher Jeske

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    I keep trying to post something in this thread, but it doesn’t seem to submit right.

    Brian WaltonBrian Walton

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    Christopher, is it over 1000 characters? If so, you may want to split it into smaller separate posts. Others have hit this restriction in the past. Another restriction is more than a couple of links to outside pages. This is because of spammers.

    AvatarChristopher Jeske

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    Way back at the beginning of the offseason, when we were all wondering how the Cardinals would sort out the outfield depth, I started a little project. I always loved Chris Mitchell’s KATOH ratings of prospects, and I tried to run a loose evaluation of the outfield prospects through a KATOH lens.

    Thankfully, Chris provided a general framework for how he calculated future WAR contributions of prospects: https://blogs.fangraphs.com/a-primer-on-a-new-and-improved-katoh/. Perhaps purposefully so, most of these statistics tend to stabilize fairly quickly: https://library.fangraphs.com/principles/sample-size/.

    The general inputs are all compared to the league average: age, K%, ISO, BABIP, BB%, and height. Also considered is position and pre-professional origin (international, high school, or college). I obviously wasn’t able to fully replicate the KATOH system, and while I feel comfortable using my infinitely less complex “KATOH?” metric as a very loose way to compare a set of players, it is not at all a prediction of their likely future WAR. Also, I only used seasons in AA and AAA with at least 60 PA for the calculations.

    Ranking by KATOH? (Note: this is more of a rate stat than a counting stat. PA’s are provided to indicate sample size).
    1. Dylan Carlson 21.9 (562 PA)
    2. Justin Williams 12.8 (1206 PA; pre- and post-trade)
    3. Tyler O’Neill 12.3 (1405 PA; pre- and post-trade, not including 2019 demotion/rehab)
    4. Oscar Mercado 10.6 (950 PA; pre-trade)
    5. Harrison Bader 10.3 (996 PA; not including 2019 demotion)
    6. Randy Arozarena 9.3 (1007 PA)
    7. Lane Thomas 8.4 (879 PA)
    8. Adolis Garcia 1.5 (1446 PA)

    KATOH? ranking by individual stops
    1. Dylan Carlson 2019 AA 22.3 (483 PA)
    2. Dylan Carlson 2019 AAA 19.4 (79 PA)
    3. Justin Williams 2017 AA 18.0 (409 PA w/TB)
    4. Justin Williams 2016 AA 17.3 (155 PA w/TB)
    5. Tyler O’Neill 2018 AAA 13.6 (273 PA)
    6. Tyler O’Neill 2016 AA 13.3 (575 PA w/SEA)
    7. Randy Arozarena 2017 AA 11.7 (195 PA)
    8. Oscar Mercado 2018 AAA 11.3 (427 PA)
    9. Harrison Bader 2016 AA 10.9 (356 PA)
    10. Tyler O’Neill 2017 AAA 10.7 (557 PA w/SEA+STL)
    11. Harrison Bader 2016 AAA 10.6 (161 PA)
    12. Lane Thomas 2018 AAA 10.5 (140 PA)

    So what does this tell us?

    First, keep in mind that this is only looking at minor league performance and doesn’t consider any of what they have shown in the majors so far. What it does do is provide a view of all the players at roughly the same point in time in their careers—right when they are/were ready to graduate to MLB.
    The Cardinals kept the three highest upside players in Carlson, Williams (though I suspect not all agree on this one), and O’Neill. Bader probably belongs in the top 4 as well when considering his defensive value.

    Mercado and Bader, and to a lesser degree Arozarena, rate as surprisingly similar. Again, due to this not adequately capturing Bader’s defense, it makes sense to prefer him. At the same time, it’s understandable why some are frustrated over losing Arozarena and Mercado. They have a lot of value.

    This doesn’t particularly defend how high the Cardinals seem to be on Lane Thomas, however there is another way to look at how he rates here. First, like Bader, it likely doesn’t capture all his defensive value. Second, he had a poor showing in AAA this year, which may have been in part due to injury. Just considering only his 2018 line in AA and AAA, he was worth 10.0 KATOH? in 575 PA. This would scoot him ahead of Arozarena, just behind Bader and Mercado.

    We can do a similar exercise with Justin Williams. Removing his 2019 line in AA which was partly a rehab assignment boosts his overall KATOH? to 13.6 in 1145 PA. Conversely, considering only his time at AAA (across 2018 and 2019), he has 9.5 KATOH? in 581 PA. While this isn’t quite as impressive, even this lower number is still neck and neck with Arozarena. To boot, Williams rates much better than Arozarena by Baseball Prospectus’ Fielding Runs Above Average metric.

    Lastly, this makes for a convincing explanation of why Garcia was traded for only cash considerations.

    AvatarChristopher Jeske

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    Christopher, is it over 1000 characters? If so, you may want to split it into smaller separate posts. Others have hit this restriction in the past.

    Thanks, Brian, it finally worked when I just typed the numbers (1,2,3, etc) for the list instead of using the ol li in html.

    AvatarBob Reed


    Thanks very much for doing all of that legwork, CJ. I was a little surprised to see Carlson so far ahead of the field — but as you noted, Harry Bader’s defense doesn’t get much credit from the KATOH projection model.

    As a companion piece to your research, I checked the cumulative Davenport Mean projections for the next two years for a large cast of outfielders, pro-rating their seasons to 600 plate appearances each. Again, this is for the next two seasons with full playing time:

    Harrison Bader 8.4 WAR
    Randy Arozarena 8.2
    Lane Thomas 6.8
    Justin Williams 6.2
    Marcell Ozuna 6.2
    Nick Castellanos 6.2
    Dylan Carlson 5.8
    Tyler O’Neill 4.8
    Dexter Fowler 3.9

    Taking these numbers at face value, there’s obviously no way for the Cardinals at this snapshot in time to justify signing either Ozuna or Castellanos. Athough each of them has a very solid outlook, and would be a smart addition at small dollars for most any other organization.

    And also bear in mind gentle readers that even if Arozerena is really this good (he probably isn’t), the dropoff to other Redbird flycatchers just isn’t that precipitous.

    Lastly, if Dylan Carlson’s projection feels overly modest, remember he’s just turned 21. Davenport has him peaking at 4.7 WAR in the 2025 season. (Edit: Davenport tinkers with the numbers on a regular basis, and Carlson’s next two years have been downgraded to 5.4 WAR, but his single-season peak has been increased to 5.1 wins above replacement.)

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