In early January, if you were over at Mad Em-Dashes, you may have seen this already. However, I wanted to share my thoughts on the most important statistic for each Cardinal I believe will be on the opening day 25-man roster (barring injury). I try not to repeat any statistic, but usually am not able to do so. Here's what I came up with. What are yours?
Yadier Molina - In my mind, Yadier Molina will continue to be Yadier Molina - always aspiring to improve at his craft. Thankfully for Cardinals' fans, that craft is playing behind the plate in St. Louis for our Redbirds. My important statistic for Yadier Molina is 130+ games played.
Tony Cruz - For 3 straight years, Tony Cruz has been the primary backup to Yadier Molina. He has gotten worse hitting each year, yet has stayed sharp defensively. I think that the most important statistic for Tony Cruz is a .300 OBP.
Matt Adams - Matt Adams is the slugger at first base that the Cardinals are going to rely on to fill the hole left by Carlos Beltran in the lineup this season. Including his minor league statistics - take a look at this: He had 17 homers in 331 PAs in 2013 - one every 19.5 PAs. He had 20 homers in 367 PAs in 2012 - one every 18.4 PAs. He had 36 homers in 602 PAs - one every 16.7 PAs. My important statistic for Matt Adams is to hit a HR once every 18 PA this season.
Kolten Wong - Kolten Wong is in his first full season and may only face right-handed pitching this year. Despite being a top-100 prospect and the Cardinals having ridiculous success with their prospects/development as of late, Wong is not viewed in a very positive light by many Cardinals' fans due to his unsightly .194 BA in a late season call up in 2013. He will impress more than that. My important statistic for Wong is a .260+ batting average.
Mark Ellis - Mark Ellis was signed this off-season to be Kolten Wong insurance. If everything works out well with Wong, he could be one expensive bench bat - and that has to be what the Cardinals hope occurs. My important statistic for Mark Ellis isn't exactly one I can quantify in one stat - but it's that Ellis plays as good defensively at 3rd base and shortstop as he does at 2nd base.
Jhonny Peralta - Jhonny Peralta was signed this off-season to solve the revolving door at the Cardinals' shortstop position. There are several worries for me with Peralta. He has been good defensively the last three seasons and I see no reason for that to change this year, despite the worry of him doing so because he doesn't look the part. Peralta was also hit last year with a 50 game suspension for a performance enhancing drug - this is the worry to me. He was signed to hit and hit he has - but more importantly, hit he must. My most important statistic for Jhonny Peralta is a 100+ wRC+. That would mean that he would be an above average hitter this year at a position where the Cardinals were not just below league average last year, but below shortstop average. Shorstops are the worst hitting position in the league and the Cardinals were one of the two worst at the position last year.
Matt Carpenter - Many people will say that they believe Carpenter needs to up his "power" as he switches over to third base - as people see it as more of a power position than second base. As our leadoff hitter in 2013, Matt Carpenter played out of his mind and saw 4.12 pitches per plate appearance (up from 4.11 the year before) - allowing the other Cardinals' hitters to see more pitches, and tiring out the opposing starter early. League average was 3.84 P/PA. My important statistic for Carpenter is to continue seeing 4.1+ pitches per plate appearance.
Matt Holliday - Matt Holliday has some of the most impressive power I have ever seen at the plate in Major League Baseball. Please don't confuse "power" with "homers." Matt Holliday hit 31 extra base hits (XBH) in 235 PA when arriving in St. Louis in 2009. He had 74 XBH in 596 PA in 2010, 58 in 446 PA in 2011, 75 in 599 PA in 2012, and 54 in 520 PA in 2013. My important statistic for Matt Holliday to have a successful season is if he continues to approach or pass 60 XBH at age 34.
Peter Bourjos - The biggest knock on Peter Bourjos - because his defense is other-worldly - is his health at the plate. A wrist injury caused his pre-injury All-Star type numbers fall off to Kolten Wong-esque debut type numbers post-injury. In his one season he was over 200 PAs, Bourjos put up a 114 wRC+ and over 4 fWAR. With an injured wrist, there is no way he will do that. My important statistic for Peter Bourjos is a healthy wrist leading to 100+ games played - healthily.
Jon Jay - Jon Jay thrives on a high batting average when he puts the ball in play. Jay strikes out very little. Including the minors, Jay has had 7 stops with 250 or more plate appearances in a season. His highest strikeout percentage, as a hitter, is last year's 16.4%. His BABIP dropped to 15 points below his career average. My important statistic for Jon Jay(especially for him to earn playing time in this stacked outfield) is a .340+ BABIP.
Allen Craig - Allen Craig had a curious lack of power last year, yet continued to drive in runs at a ridiculous pace. While I don't believe in RBI being a defining statistic league-wide, due to a wide variance in RBI opportunities, I do believe that Allen Craig's job on the St. Louis Cardinals is to drive in runs at a prolific rate. My important statistic for Allen Craig is for him to drive in 90+ runs for the third straight season.
The Cardinals will only proceed with two of Pete Kozma/Daniel Descalso/Greg Garcia/Shane Robinson/Oscar Taveras on the roster in 2014. My hope is that they go with Greg Garcia and Oscar Taveras - and that those two EARN that position. I will proceed with important stats for those two.
Greg Garcia - Greg Garcia has shown he can be a very good hitting shortstop in the minors - averaging about a 16.5 K% and 13.5 BB% to go along with a .350+ wOBA. In order for him to see time in the lineup in the majors, he is going to have to hit. My important statistic for Greg Garcia is a 10.0 BB% because that will mean he is seeing the ball well.
Oscar Taveras - Oscar Taveras is a top 5 prospect in baseball. For him to start the year in the majors, he is going to have to play like one. The Cardinals would love a bit more pop in their lineup, as well, and Taveras can provide power in bunches. My important statistic for Oscar Taveras is for him to be above a .475 SLG. That would have put him 6th in slugging on the big league club last year. If you bump it up to .485, it takes him to 4th. If you bump him to .495, it would take him to second.
Adam Wainwirght - Adam Wainwright:this pitching staff::Yadier Molina:this lineup - I feel that as long as he is out there healthy, he will be a Cy Young candidate. My important statistic for Adam Wainwright is 33+ games started.
Lance Lynn - I think Lance Lynn is one of the best 30 starters in the major leagues. He can be a true #1 starter with a smidgeon more consistency. While I would love to see his BB/9 number drop under 3.00 and for him to keep his strikeouts up, I believe more important to me would be something else. In the last two seasons, Lynn has started 62 games. In those 62 games, he has gone 6 or more innings and given up 3 or less earned runs (gotten a "quality start") just 34 times. My important statistic for Lance Lynn is to have a quality start in 20+ games this season.
Shelby Miller - Shelby Miller did not get to start a post-season game in 2013 because of how much he tired at the end of the year. Shelby threw 104 1/3 innings in 2010, then 139 2/3 innings in 2011, then 153 2/3 innings in 2012, then 174 1/3 innings this year. I'd like to see the Cardinals be a little more cautious with how many innings they give him this season and keep him between 180-190 innings. In those innings, Shelby needs to be much more economical. It took Shelby over 17.1 pitches to get through each inning last season. League average was 16.26 pitches per inning. My important statistic is for Shelby Miller to throw 16.0 or less pitches per inning.
Michael Wacha - Since his draft day still less than 2 years ago, Michael Wacha has moved through the Cardinals' system as fast as I have ever seen anyone do so (along with Rick Ankiel back in the late 90s.) It has been a truly amazing ascent that culminated in a ridiculous run in the post-season. I don't think that anyone believes that Wacha's true talent level rolls in the 0.913 WHIP range of his post-season madness, but he is a darned good pitcher (not just hard thrower) at age 22. My important statistic for Michael Wacha is an ERA below 3.00. He has managed that at every stop he has made thus far in his career (105 2/3 innings as a freshman at Texas A&M, 129 2/3 innings as a sophomore at Texas A&M, 113 1/3 innings as a junior at Texas A&M, 5 innings of rookie ball, 8 innings of class High A ball, 8 innings of AA ball, 85 innings of AAA ball, 64 2/3 innings of regular season MLB, and 30 2/3 innings of post-season baseball at the major league level.
Jaime Garcia - Coming off an injury plagued 2009 (Tommy John surgery ended his 2008 late in the year), Jaime Garcia was consistent enough to throw 163 1/3 innings in 28 games in 2010. He upped that number to 194 2/3 innings in 2011 - in 32 starts. He again had an injury plagued 2012 in which he threw 139 1/3 innings in 4 stops of professional baseball. Finally, he had to end his season early again in 2013 at only 55 1/3 innings after 9 starts on the season. If he is healthy at the beginning of the year, then my important statistic for Jaime Garcia is 180 innings pitched. If he does that, then the next guy is likely a reliever all year.
Joe Kelly - Joe Kelly has an electric right arm that he simply does not put to good use somehow. I've compared him here and elsewhere to Jair Jurrjens - except Jurrjens topped out around 92 miles per hour on his fastball - and Jeremy Hellickson - except Hellickson topped out around 91 miles per hour on his fastball. Joe Kelly throws 96+, consistently, as a starter. We're not talking about him going from 90 in the rotation to 95 out of the pen. This guy throws hard and it moves. Why can't he strike people out? My important statistic for Joe Kelly in 2014 is a K/9 above 7. He has accomplished that in just two separate months of his major league career - and I think it is important for him to do it for the entire season this year.
Trevor Rosenthal - Rosenthal should be a starter, in my mind. This would be the perfect year to work his innings back up - with Garcia coming back off of an injury and Wacha just making the leap to the majors. I also think Kelly and Martinez's arms are better suited for a late innings bullpen role. I'm not in charge. Rosenthal is the closer. For the Cardinals to be successful, I'd love to see 40-50 saves out of Rosie, however, this is about individuals not the team. My important statistic for Trevor Rosenthal is a K:BB above 4.5, preferably above 5 again.
Jason Motte - Jason Motte was a successful closer because he could throw hard and he could throw accurately. I just used K:BB, so I don't want to do that again, but it could be the best way to show what is important. However, I will go ahead and switch it up and go with this instead: My important statistic for Jason Motte is to throw 98+ mph consistently again.
Kevin Siegrist - Kevin Siegrist made the jump from minor league starter to minor league reliever to major league reliever quite quickly. He not only did that, but did it as a lefty - and not as a LOOGY. My important statistic for Kevin Siegrist is an OPS against vs. RHH of <.600 was .499 last year. i am supremely confident that he can beat around lefties maybe minus class="sbn-auto-link" href="http://www.sbnation.com/mlb/players/291/david-ortiz">David Ortiz, but for him to be as good as I think he will be, he needs to not be a second LOOGY, but a 7th or 8th inning man no matter the situation.
Randy Choate - Randy Choate is a LOOGY extraordinaire, and has been for years. In his career he has held lefties to a .196 batting average against. In 2013, it was .171. My important statistic is for less than 1/5 of lefties to get hits off of Randy Choate - or a <.200 baa>
Carlos Martinez - This is a very difficult one for me. He looks like a guy who should strike out a batter an inning - especially out of the bullpen. However, he was just over 7.6 K/9 last year in St. Louis. Even when he was stellar in the playoffs, he struck out 11 in 12 2/3 innings. In the minors, he only gave up 7.1 hits per 9 innings - and it went down from 8.1 to 7.8 to 7.3 in each of the last three years - as he moved up levels AND was young at his age in doing so. It jumped to 9.8 H/9 in the majors next year. My important statistic is for Carlos Martinez to give up less than 8 hits per 9 innings in the majors this year.
Seth Maness - Seth Maness was fantastically ridiculous at getting double plays out of the bullpen last year. He won't likely repeat that success this year, but in order to do so he will need to keep getting a large majority of ground balls. My important statistic is for Seth Maness to induce at least 60% of batted balls as ground balls this season.