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in honor of juan encarnacion's lousy start and his return tonight to a skeptical (to say the least) hometown crowd, i've compiled an all "trade-im-back" team -- guys who stunk up the joint in their first two weeks with the cardinals but later turned out to be pretty good. i'm not suggesting that encarnacion is as good as any of these guys; just a little reminder that it has only been two weeks, and that jcion's accustomed level of mediocrity still lies well within his reach. so here we go:
1b, mark mcgwire, 1997: 3 hits and 12 strikeouts in his first 34 at-bats, with 1 homer and 1 rbi; line of .088 / .225 / .176. he finished at .253 / .411 / .684 with 24 homers in two months of play, broke maris' record the next year.
2b, delino deshields, 1997: began 10 for 53, a line of .189 / .246 / .321. he wound up having something of a career year -- personal bests in runs scored, homers, triples, batting avg, and slugging, and his 2d-highest stolen-base and rbi totals.
3b, scott rolen, 2002: got off to a 6-for-40 start with 0 hr and 2 rbi; line of .150 / .209 / .200. worse yet, after winning their first game with rolen in the lineup, the cardinals lost seven in a row and saw their division lead shrink to a single game. rolen ended up at .278 / .354 / 561 for the cards that year, with 44 rbi in 55 games; the team's overall record after his acquisition was an mlb-best 39-21, and st louis won the division by 13 games.
ss, garry templeton, 1976: ok, so not a trade or free-agent addition; couldn't find another candidate who fit the profile. upon being recalled august 9 templeton weent 8 for 39 without an extra-base hit and just 1 rbi. his line: .205 / .262 / .205. he also made 3 errors. by season's end he was up to .291 / .314 / .362; the following year he was an all-star.
lf, juan encarnacion, 2006: currently at .204 / .246 / .222 with 1 rbi.
cf, matty alou, 1971: most of the outfielders the cards have brought in over the years have hit right away. alou is one of the few exceptions; he came to the team having averaged .327 with 197 hits a year over the previous five seasons, but started out an anemic 10 for 46 with 2 rbi and a line of .217 / .265 / .283 -- a bit, but not much, better than juan'cion. he broke out of it with 8 hits over his next 3 games and finished the year at .315 with career highs in homers (7) and rbis (74).
rf, george hendrick, 1978: silent george is one of encarnacion's comparables at Baseball Reference. traded to the punchless cards on may 26, he got just 6 hits in his first 43 at-bats (.140); combined with his slow start for the padres, his overall season average stood at .214 with 4 homers and 12 rbis. the second week of june, and only 12 rbis on the year. he finished with 75, to go along with 20 homers and a .275 average; his line as a cardinal that year was .288 / .337 / .497 in 102 games
c, darrell porter, 1981: replacing the beloved ted simmons, porter got off to a fine start by sabermetric standards; unfortunately for him, nobody knew a blamed thing about sabermetrics back in those days and so we cardinal fans all loathed him. as late as mid-may porter was hitting .173 with just 8 rbi; but he'd drawn enough walks to lead the team in on-base pct (.394) and his slugging avg was a respectable (for a catcher) .385. he finished the year at.224 / .364 / .408 -- when's the last time an stl catcher put up a .776 ops? he was the nlcs and world series mvp the following season.
sp, chris carpenter, 2004: it took him a full year to get onto the field, and once he did he got bombed in his first 5 starts --5.28 era and 8 hr allowed in 29 innings. he finished the year as the staff ace, with a 15-5 record and 3.46 era.