Will the St. Louis Cardinals bench Matt Adams vs. lefthanded pitchers in favor of Allen Craig and Joey Butler?

Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

When do Matt Adams's yawning platoon splits matter?

Yesterday, fourstick considered whether Joey Butler, the corner outfielder who is too old to be considered a prospect that the St. Louis Cardinals recently promoted to the majors, might steal playing time from Allen Craig. I don't think Butler will necessarily get many plate appearances that would've otherwise gone to Craig. I think he might very well get some over Matt Adams against lefthanded starters.

As a team, the Cardinals have been underwhelming at the bat so far this season. They've hit worse against lefties then righties.

St. Louis Cardinals Team Splits (2014)

Split

PA

HR

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

ISO

wOBA

wRC+

vs. LHP

350

4

.229

.299

.352

.651

.124

.288

83

Total

1405

23

.247

.313

.368

.681

.120

.303

93

vs. RHP

1055

19

.254

.318

.373

.691

.119

.309

96

One of the team's worst hitters against southpaws is the lefthanded-batting Adams. Big Mayo has smashed righthanded pitching but struggled mightily against lefties. In addition to starkly disparate outcomes, Adams has also struck out in 31.3% of his PAs versus portsiders.

Matt Adams Splits (2014)

Split

PA

HR

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

ISO

wOBA

wRC+

vs. LHP

32

0

.161

.188

.226

.413

.065

.185

12

Total

142

2

.312

.331

.457

.788

.145

.345

122

vs. RHP

110

2

.355

.373

.523

.896

.168

.392

154

Even though manager Mike Matheny regularly makes decisions based on meaninglessly small samples, several weeks worth of splits should not dictate whether a player gets demoted. What's troubling about Adams's 2014 platoon splits is that they similar to the one he's shown as a big-leaguer, albeit over a not particularly long period of time. That being said, Adams has hit so poorly against southpaws, that it suggests a true talent split is being revealed.

Matt Adams Splits (Career)

Split

PA

HR

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

ISO

wOBA

wRC+

vs. LHP

105

3

.194

.210

.330

.540

.136

.235

46

Total

552

21

.285

.326

.471

.797

.187

.348

124

vs. RHP

447

18

.307

.353

.506

.859

.199

.374

142

This is where Butler comes in. Despite a reverse-platoon split, the veteran minor-leaguer has hit well against lefthanded pitching from 2011-2014 (his time in the highest ranks of the minors and the years for which Minor League Central has splits data available).

Joey Butler MiLB Splits (2011-2014)

Split

PA

HR

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

ISO

wOBA

wRC+

vs. LHP

512

17

.278

.385

.456

.841

.178

-

-

Total

1725

50

.301

.397

.470

.867

.169

-

-

vs. RHP

1213

33

.311

.402

.475

.877

.164

-

-

One way Matheny might be able to generate more productions from the Cardinals offense is to give Adams days off when the club is facing an opposing lefthanded starter. With Butler, the Cards have the option to go righty-heavy in such games by shifting Craig—who has a career .307/.339/.560 line against southpaws and a .367/.375/.700 split in just 32 PAs against them this year—to first base. A manager's job is to put players in a position to succeed. Benching Adams against lefty starters in favor of Butler and Craig would be doing just that.

Correction: The original version of this post placed Adams's career split stats vs. RHP in the wrong columns. It has been corrected.

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