St. Louis Cardinals Discussion: Which Matt Adams will we see this time around?

Big Mayo - Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Post-Calf-Strain Matt Adams: Big Mayo or Big Single-Double?

With Matt Adams seemingly set to reenter the St. Louis Cardinals starting lineup (at least on a part-time basis), most fans are likely wondering what to expect from the slugging first baseman this time around. It will probably, and understandably, take some time for Adams to get his timing back against major league pitching, but once he's got that figured out, which Big Mayo should we expect? Should we expect the guy who hit 17 home runs in 319 plate appearances last season, should we look for the guy who has 10 opposite field singles out of his 63 hits this year, or she would aim toward a happy medium?

First, let's take a look at his hitting statistics from 2013 and 2014 in the following chart:

Year

PA

HR

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

ISO

wOBA

wRC+

2013

319

17

.284

.335

.503

.839

.220

.365

136

2014

202

3

.325

.337

.474

.811

.149

.350

125

When looking at the statistics, one cannot help but notice his decline in home runs (3 versus 17) which subsequently leads to a considerably lower ISO (.149 versus .220). His overall numbers are more than respectable, but his value to the Cardinals is much more rooted in his ability to mash baseballs over the outfield wall than to spray singles to the opposite field.

Well, in another quality episode of the "Best Podcast in Baseball," Bernie Miklasz briefly touched on this exact topic and provided listeners with a very interesting and enlightening quote (at roughly the 26:44 mark):

"I find it interesting that [Adams] indicated he's going to go back to his 'normal' batting approach. I thought that was kind of fun. He's not going to worry about the shifts."

Personally, I really hope this truly is Adams's mentality going forward in 2014. Does he lead the team in slugging percentage at .474? Sure. Is he tied for the team lead in doubles with 16? Yep. Should I even take the time to complain about a hitter with an excellent wRC+ (125) and an above-average wOBA (.350)? Probably not, but Adams is currently hitting a home run once every 67 trips to the plate. Last season, his average time between home runs was roughly 19 plate appearances. I don't expect him to reach this insane rate by any means, but I would welcome even the slightest improvement from 67 plate appearances per home run at this point. Call me a "chick," but at times, I really do "dig the long ball," and considering the team leader in home runs, Jhonny Peralta (10), has slowed his pace since the start of May, it would be nice to see Adams pick up some of the slack now that he's back.

Another thing to note is that despite his batting average being 41 points higher than it was last season, his on-base percentage is virtually identical—.337 versus .335. When looking at players with at least 200 plate appearances, Adams's 2.5 BB% is the third lowest. At this stage in his career (yes, he's only 25 years old, but he's been playing baseball his whole life), it is likely that Adams will always have a pretty aggressive approach at the plate. Thus, if his OBP is going to hover around the .330 to .340 range (instead of the .350 to .360 range) despite having a batting average well over .300, it would be nice to have some more power punch in that bat. On just about any other team (outside of the Royals), I would not even be discussing this, but coming into 2014, Adams was considered the team's one true homer threat, and unfortunately, this has not been the case just yet.

As Bernie mentioned in the BPIB, I think it is fun to hear that Adams is planning to "go back to his 'normal' batting approach."  As with anything, though, Adams can easily say all the right things, but the hardest part is putting those words into game action. If his batting average drops (which is likely), will he scrap his "normal" approach and revert back to his pre-calf-strain approach from earlier this season? Will John Mabry have something to say about this situation? It is a fun topic to discuss, and I really believe solid points can be made for both sides.

I will be in attendance for tonight's game against Jordan Zimmermann and the Nationals, sitting in section 150, and I would be more than happy to see a big fly deposited into (or over) the Cardinals bullpen by Big Mayo.

Shameless Plug:

I was live in studio with Chris Hrabe last night (Thursday, 6/13/14) on KMOX 1120 talking all things Cardinals baseball. The segment is roughly 36 minutes long, and if you have the time and are interested, you can listen to it online here or you can download the free iTunes Podcast version right here.

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