The St. Louis Cardinals came away from Chicago with two victories in three games over the Chicago Cubs as the team now moves on to Milwaukee and another winnable series.
The Chicago series marked the debut of second baseman Kolten Wong, who finished without a hit in two starts. But despite the lack of success at the plate in his debut, Wong should still get a bulk of the playing time at second base, with Matt Carpenter moving to third base, over David Freese and here is why.
Wong offers an asset that no other Cardinals possesses: SPEED. The kid can run. He has swiped 20 bases in 21 attempts this season and can give the offense a dynamic it has not had in many years.
Wong also offers a defensive upgrade at second base over Carpenter. Carpenter has been good defensively in his first year at the position, but he is not a wizard at the position and is naturally, a third baseman. Wong on the other hand has won Baseball America’s award for the best defender at his position in each of his three minor league seasons.
Finally, and most importantly, it comes down to Freese simply not producing.
Freese’s .265 average on the surface is respectable, but it is a rather week .265 for several reasons.
First, Freese is not producing with runners in scoring position. He is hitting just .229 with runners in scoring position and just a .677 OPS in those instances. He has struck out an eye-popping 29 time in 105 at bats, which just is not good enough, considering his lack of power production overall, which is the second reason he should see more time on the bench.
Freese’ power outage is something major. Light-hitting Jon Jay , with his three-run bomb on Sunday, just tied Freese with six home runs on the season. The light hitting Jay, who nobody expects to hit for much power but do expect solid defense and a decent average, also has 54 RBIs to Freese’s 42 on the year as well.
Comparing Freese to Jay is not enough though. When you look at the list of other players across baseball who have just six home runs, you start to realize just how bad the power outage has become. A pair of back-up catchers, Geovany Soto and Hank Conger, have also managed to put six balls over the wall.
Freese plays average defense at best and if he is not going to hit for any power, or provide any speed, then what is he really providing on a regular basis?
Wong at least is an upgrade defensively and gives the team the speed element and if he hits as he has every year in the minors, he should upgrade the offense substantially.
Freese may get out of his funk at some point. Who knows, maybe the back injury that sidelined Freese at the start of the season is still lingering. But adding Wong to the lineup more regularly is the prudent move for the Cardinals right now, at least until Freese can show that he can hit with runners in scoring position and put the ball over the fence on occasion.
- Kolten Wong: Now is perfect time for St. Louis Cardinals to call up prospect (stlsportsminute.com)
- St. Louis Cardinals: What to expect from Kolten Wong (cardinalsfarm.com)
- CardinalsFarm.com: What to expect from Kolten Wong (stlsportsminute.com)
- i70baseball.com: With Kolten Wong promotion, St. Louis Cardinals go all in (stlsportsminute.com)