The Cardinal Nation’s August Player of the Month – Matt Koperniak

photo: Matt Koperniak (Springfield Cardinals)

In a virtual landslide, The Cardinal Nation’s choice as the top hitter in the St. Louis Cardinals system during August is Springfield outfielder Matt Koperniak, who bested seven other finalists.

This article details the selection of The Cardinal Nation’s Player of the Month. Considered were offensive results during July across the entire St. Louis Cardinals system, including the rookie teams in the Florida Complex League and Dominican Summer League. The winner as well as a group of seven runners up will be highlighted.

Starting with the usual 60 plate appearances requirement, a total of 32 prospects in the system qualified. Eight further separated themselves with OPSes above .800, including just one over .912.

In other words, unlike some months, this was not a difficult decision.

The above compares to 13 hitters with OPSes over .900 last month, including three above 1.100 In other words, offense was markedly down across the system in August compared to July.

However, our winner’s numbers would stand strong any month.

Double-A Springfield led the way with four finalists while Palm Beach had two and Memphis and Peoria had just one finalist each. The rookie level DSL Cardinals had no qualifiers and the FCL Cardinals had just one player meet the plate appearance criteria this month, but he fell short in OPS.

Reminder

Please remember, this is NOT the “Player of the Month Among Top Prospects”. Every player in the system has an equal chance, with only their performance during the month used to differentiate the best of the best. Age and level, which are key prospect considerations, are not factors here, either.

We will take two views of the data. The first look will be basic stats, followed by rate stats. Names are listed in the same sequence in both tables, in descending OPS order.

Basic stats

Hitter Tm G AB 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS
Matt Koperniak Spr 22 89 23 33 5 2 6 22 7 17 2 3 0.371 0.417 0.674 1.091
Jordan Walker Spr 25 90 24 28 4 0 5 14 11 25 2 1 0.311 0.390 0.522 0.912
Brady Whalen Spr 18 54 10 18 6 2 0 8 3 9 3 0 0.333 0.373 0.519 0.892
Scott Hurst Mem 19 62 7 20 3 1 0 5 15 13 6 2 0.323 0.456 0.403 0.859
R.J. Yeager PB 18 68 12 22 3 1 2 14 4 13 1 0 0.324 0.368 0.485 0.853
Victor Scott PB 21 74 17 17 4 3 2 9 17 21 10 2 0.230 0.372 0.446 0.818
Mack Chambers Peo 20 62 12 16 4 0 2 5 12 15 1 1 0.258 0.387 0.419 0.806
Chandler Redmond Spr 16 59 9 11 1 1 6 21 6 19 0 0 0.186 0.258 0.542 0.800

A substantial gap in OPS separates the top finalist from the other seven. Matt Koperniak’s 1.091 is far above Jordan Walker, whose .912 was 20 points higher than their teammate Brady Whalen.

Scott Hurst and R.J. Yeager had OPSes in the .850s with the bottom three finalists between .818 and .800 – Victor Scott, Mack Chambers and Chandler Redmond.

Koperniak led the system in home runs (six, tied with teammate Chandler Redmond) and RBI, with 22 driven in over 22 games. Also of note is Walker’s second consecutive five-homer month.

Further, Koperniak was tops in batting average (.371), slugging (.674) and OPS. Other than Koperniak, Walker was the only finalist appriaching a .300/.400/.500 slash line or better.

Jordan Walker

Memphis’ Hurst paced the way in on-base percentage at .456. The outfielder impressively walked more (15) than he struck out (13).

First-year outfielder Scott batted just .230, but thanks to a strong eye at the plate, still delivered a .372 OBP. The speedster also stole 10 bases in 12 attempts.

August OPSes from non-finalist qualifiers of note include Alec Burleson at .692, Masyn Winn at .778, Won-Bin Cho at .626 and Jeremy Rivas at .511.

Advanced stats

Hitter Tm PA GO/AO BABIP ISO AB/HR BB/K BB% K%
Matt Koperniak Spr 95 2.00 0.415 0.310 14.5 0.313 5.4% 17.2%
Jordan Walker Spr 105 1.18 0.383 0.221 17.2 0.478 10.9% 22.8%
Brady Whalen Spr 60 0.38 0.391 0.185 0.333 5.0% 15.0%
Scott Hurst Mem 79 0.88 0.400 0.081 1.154 19.0% 16.5%
R.J. Yeager PB 76 0.55 0.358 0.169 32.5 0.333 5.5% 16.4%
Victor Scott PB 99 1.10 0.275 0.229 35.0 0.895 17.9% 20.0%
Mack Chambers Peo 76 0.88 0.311 0.161 31.0 0.800 15.8% 19.7%
Chandler Redmond Spr 66 0.87 0.152 0.375 9.3 0.333 9.5% 28.6%

As we get into additional stats, we see that good fortune in the guise of a .415 BABIP was on Koperniak’s side. Yet, a number of other finalists had high BABIPs as well.

At the other end of the scale is Redmond, who was under the Mendoza Line in batting average (.186). But some of that can be explained by a terribly unlucky .152 BABIP for the month. His power was his redeeming factor.

Koperniak was the most ground-ball prone of the finalists by a considerable margin, but his isolated power was second only to Redmond.

Scott and Peoria’s Chambers joined Hurst as the having the best walk rates and walk-to-strikeout ratios.

Koperniak’s walk rate was near the bottom of the finalists, but his strikeout rate was reasonably in the middle, especially considering his power shown. Really, only Redmond’s K rate was noticeably high.

When all is said and done, Koperniak’s exceptional month in almost all major statistical categories gives him the honors as The Cardinal Nation’s August Player of the Month.

About the winner

Koperniak had an eventful and productive 2021. In his first professional action, he competed at three different levels of the system, including a positive stint at Double-A to end the year.

Matt Koperniak

This season, the OPS of the left-handed hitter hung around the .700’s during April, May and June.

However, since July 1, the 24-year-old has been a different hitter. His July batting average and OBP were almost the same as he went on to put up in August. The huge difference was a month-to-month jump in slugging from .500 to .674 – and OPS from .912 to the aforementioned 1.091.

Koperniak was the Texas League Player of the Week for the period of August 8-14, primarily on the strength of his performance on the 10th, when he hit for the cycle with four RBI and three runs scored.

Koperniak is currently The Cardinal Nation’s 41st-ranked prospect, down from no. 35 during the prior offseason primarily due to others entering the rankings ahead of him. His recent play speaks well for a ranking rebound, however.

How last month’s winner fared this month

The consensus selection as July Player of the Month by both The Cardinal Nation and Cardinals organization (shared) was Palm Beach-Peoria outfielder Patrick Romeri. (The Cardinals split their award with Springfield outfielder Chase Pinder.)

During August, Romeri took a major downturn at his new level, from his 1.226 OPS last month to just .480 (.179/.266/.214/.480 in 56 at-bats with the Chiefs.

Pinder fared much better, with an August line of .226/.424/.355/.779.

What is next?

The Cardinals organization should also name their own selections of July Player and Pitcher of the Month this week.

Related article

The Cardinal Nation’s August Pitcher of the Month – Andrew Marrero

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