In addition to being extremely silly, the St. Louis Cardinals unarguably had one of the most dangerous benches in all of baseball during the 2016 season. For the entirety of the season was streaked with pinch-hit home runs, timely RBIs, great defensive plays, and just plain getting on base by players off of the Cardinals' bench. Players like Matt Adams, Kolten Wong, Greg Garcia, Tommy Pham, and Jeremy Hazelbaker boosted the Cardinals to some of their finer wins of the season. Now, let's take a look at these players and what they may be able to do for the team this coming season.
1. Matt Adams
Matt Adams has showed up to spring training in better shape than ever before. Although his chances at becoming an everyday 1st baseman are very slim, his defensive skills and powerful bat can still make a large impact on this team. It's looking like Matt Carpenter will take on the role of everyday 1st baseman, but there will still be opportunities for Adams to cover 1st base when Carpenter is playing elsewhere or is not in the lineup. In addition, he fits well into a pinch-hitting role. Perhaps one of the biggest highlights of the 2016 baseball season was Adams' walk-off home run in the 16th inning of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. As the clock struck 12:26 in the morning, Adams blasted a fastball into the stands. And man, I'm sure glad he did because that was one long game! It looks as if Adams will have a similar role this season as he had last season, though hopefully his hitting does improve so we can see a little bit more of what Big City can do.
2. Kolten Wong
Going into the 2017 season, many predict that Kolten Wong will take on the role of everyday 2nd baseman, but he does have a lot to prove. Just last season, he was demoted to the Minors after struggling continuously at the plate. After his return, his batting did improve, but still wasn't near as impressive as the Cardinals Organization would have liked. Although he still displayed solid defense, something that the Cardinals were lacking for the majority of the 2016 season, there were other players who could generate much more offense than Wong. Wong is still fairly young and has lots of promising talent, but I unfortunately don't see him lasting the whole season as an everyday player. In fact, I see Jedd Gyorko having more playing time at 2nd base if he continues to play like he did in the 2nd half of last season. Hopefully, Wong does become a better hitter and can gradually earn more playing time and potentially even become a dangerous pinch hitter.
3. Greg Garcia
Let me start by saying this: I am a huge fan of Greg Garcia. Now let me tell you why. Garcia reached base over a third of the time in 2016, drawing 42 walks in 257 plate appearances. That means he drew a walk just over 16% of the time. He also had the highest average of his career and only struck out a few more times than he was walked. In addition to his growth as a batter and his knack for getting on base, he is a very flexible player as he can play 3rd base, 2nd base, and shortstop and his defense in underrated. The one area of concern last season was his cold streak in which he went 2-for-31. He was able to bounce back very well after that skid, but it would be very nice to see him hit and reach base consistently throughout the entire season. Hopefully, Greg Garcia can receive playing time at multiple positions and help spark the offense by continuing to get on base so often.
4. Tommy Pham
Tommy Pham has been plagued by a variety of injuries since making his Major League debut in September of 2014, but that hasn't stopped him from showing his promising talent. Pham contributed to the record number of pinch-hit home runs last season and played quality defense in most of his appearances. I do think that Pham will be able to improve and become a reliable hitter and defender, and he will be a useful player to have as a 4th or 5th outfielder on the Cardinals' roster. I do want to see Pham become more consistent because he could help reach John Mozeliak and Mike Matheny's goals of "injecting more athleticism" into this Cardinals team.
5. Jeremy Hazelbaker
As most of you probably know by now, he was picked up by the Arizona Diamondbacks, so he won't be doing anything to help the Cardinals this upcoming season.
Comment Below! What impacts do you think these players will have this season?