Don't get me wrong, I'm still the president, CEO, treasurer, and staff secretary for the Greg Garcia fanclub (membership: 8...and shrinking), but it's hard not to look at what Daniel Descalso has done in the second half of the season and still continue to call for his ouster from the roster. Especially since the club doesn't need to oust him with rosters expanding to 40 players as of yesterday.
Descalso's been a very productive player for the Cardinals in limited time so far this season, and generally that limited time hasn't even been in the best circumstances for Descalso either. He's played first base against a left handed starter to give lefty-deficient slugger Matt Adams a rest (a fact that makes this column even more relevant than it was a week ago), he's taken pinch hits against the toughest lefties in the opposing team's bullpen. It's like Mike Matheny is subjecting the bearded utility man to his own personal version of hell.
Daniel Descalso has taken the gauntlet challenge like a gladiator to blood lust.
In the second half, Double D has just 56 PA's and is hitting .345/.446/.438 in those PA's. Sure, his BABIP is .425. Sure, he's doing this with a 15% line drive rate. No, he cannot possibly keep this up nor does it come close to being his true talent level as a hitter. You have to admire his moxie, however, having been put in the toughest of spots while performing almost like he knows that his job is on the line and he needs to play his absolute best to save it.
In 31 PA's against lefties this season, he's struck out just three times and has a 147 wRC+. He's addressed the batters box 43 times in late and close situations this season and is hitting .316/.395/.474 with 6 doubles and 4 runs batted in, yet is hitting just .200/.304/.325 as a pinch hitter and .305/.345/.354 as a starter. What that tells me is that Descalso is really, really good in late and close situations in games in which he starts the game, which might also lead to why the team is in a late and close situation in the first place. That's one heck of a argument for job security, isn't it?
So why come to the defense of a player with enough luck-driven outcomes that he should probably be buying lottery tickets by the dozen after every home game? Because, regardless of luck or predictability or sample size, when your team has a negative run differential and somehow finds themselves in first place, it's on the back of one hell of a lot of good fortune and you'll take whatever luck driven measures you can get even if they come from a utility infielder you've been pining to be rid of for most of the last two seasons.
Daniel Descalso has done his job. Played anywhere and everywhere he's been asked and been prepared to play at the best of his ability. I watched him dig a number of bad throws out of the dirt at first base on Sunday, a position he couldn't have played more than a few times in his life prior to that afternoon. You just expect him to be bad out there, but he wasn't, and the only explanation for that is that he took the time to work on digging throws out at some point this season with the expectation that he might be called on to put on the pud in a pinch and likely when the team needed it most. As Derrick Goold alluded to on the BPIB last Friday, he's also the emergency catcher and has supposedly caught bullpens on the side in order to keep his behind-the-dish skills sharp.
He's not the most talented players on the team, but he certainly gets the most out of what talent he does have, and that's something that many of his Cardinals teammates have in common even if they have far higher floors and ceilings as players. You could describe Matt Carpenter that way. Jon Jay too. It's hard to root against those guys because they do leave it all out there despite having to work and grind for every inch of improvement that comes so naturally to others.
So throw out the sample sizes, the luck driven batting average, the fact that he can't hit a ball anywhere near the warning track: Daniel Descalso just carries that lunch pail to work every day and does whatever he's asked to do and does it as well as he can do it. That's an admirable trait to have in a humbling game.
The Cardinals are better off for it.