Every year, Jeff Gordon grades the team during the All-Star break and after the season is over. He has seemingly random criteria, inexplicable grades, and spotty reasoning. He values the 2nd half as more important than the 1st half, usually cites RISP, and I’m sure he’ll post some playoff stats. If one were to write a “How to Misuse Statistics” post, his articles would surely be fine examples. Let’s get to the grades.
Yadier Molina - A
“Molina hit .285 after the All-Star break with an .801 on-base plus slugging percentage. Overall he hit .305 with runners in scoring position”
I swear I wrote the above paragraph before reading a word of this. He’s just that predictable. Anyway, Molina had an 87 wRC+ and 1.2 fWAR and while he did miss time due to injury, he essentially played the same as your average starting catcher anyway. He’s pretty clearly below average at this point in his career and that’s okay. If you want to grade him based off the fact that he’s 37, well he still hit below his ZiPS (92) and Steamer (99) projections, both of which take into account age.
Kolten Wong - A
Oh hell yeah. You’re alright again Gordo.
Lane Thomas - A
I was... not expecting Lane Thomas. I’d give him lower - he had a 97 wRC+ in AAA - but sure this is fine.
Tommy Edman - A-
The only shock is the minus. This minus is for “But he hit just .208 with runners in scoring position and .152 with RISP and two outs” because of course it is. I’m surprised he talked himself into an A with those low numbers.
Randy Arozarena - B
I guess he felt weird giving him an A? He had the minor league stats Thomas didn’t while playing well in a limited sample too. Kind of weird grade given Thomas.
Matt Wieters - B-
No objection. You could argue lower because his defense was just that bad and his offense was sort of under the radar bad.
Paul Goldschmidt - C+
We agree. Let’s see why you gave him a C+. “But Goldschmidt’s bottom line was disappointing: a 30-point drop in batting average from 2018 and a 100-point OPS decline. This was especially unsettling given MLB’s power surge due to juiced baseballs. He hit just .252 with runners in scoring position and .244 with RISP and two outs. Goldschmidt turned 32 last month and the Cardinals owe him $130 million over the next five years. Feel free to fret.” - Ignore the RISP comments and this is spot on.
Jose Martinez, Yairo Munoz, Rangel Ravelo - C
Tyler O’Neill - C
“He hit 13 homers in 175 minor league at bats this season, but that power won’t translate in the big leagues unless he cuts down on strikeouts. O’Neill runs well and plays all three outfield spots, but his fielding metrics weren’t great.” Glad you’re using fielding metrics, now go ahead and ignore them because no way will you use them right. And while he does need to cut down on the strikeouts, “the power won’t translate because of the strikeouts” is 100 percent false. Plenty of power hitters strike out a ton.
Andrew Knizner - C
Fun fact: Knizner was barely worse as a hitter than Wieters (78 wRC+ compared to 81) and I hope to god he’s a better fielder or this is not the catcher of the future.
Marcell Ozuna - C-
Uhh, this one is out of nowhere. “But Ozuna’s poor outfield reads, tentative routes to the ball and clumsy glove work made him a left field liability. He produced in spurts, but he also suffered prolonged slumps -- like when he hit .226 in May and (gulp) .160 in September.” Ozuna’s defense has gone full circle from being overrated thanks to the Gold Glove to underrated because he makes some atrocious blunders. Gordo clearly ignored the fielding metrics on this one, because Ozuna was +8.6 last year, which I am very much not buying but he’s been above average in LF in his last three seasons.
Dexter Fowler - C-
I would give him higher thanks to his rising back from the dead act, but he ended up as a perfectly acceptable 4th OFer getting starter playing time, which probably deserves somewhere in the C range.
Paul DeJong - C-
Oh this ought to be good.
“He remained steady at shortstop, teaming with the spectacular Wong for an excellent double-play combination. His 14 defensive runs saved above average tied Wong for the team lead.” You are aware of his defense then. You just don’t seem to value it that much?
“DeJong hit 30 homers, but so did 57 other big leaguers. His 4.1 WAR rating flattered him.” I just imagine him writing off WAR completely because he thinks DeJong shouldn’t have that high of a WAR. Anyway, he gives his average for every month but April and of course cites his RISP and RISP with two outs stats. How many stats does he look at before he lands on RISP cause it seems to be one of the first stats he checks out?
Harrison Bader - D+
As if the last grade wasn’t clear enough, this one is in big bold letters “I DON’T CARE ABOUT DEFENSE.” He again mentions how good his defense is in his first paragraph, but when it comes time to actually grade these guys, his mind has to grade them by offense. Well that and a misunderstanding on how bad these guys’ bats actually were. DeJong was dead average with the bat. Bader had a low average but an 81 wRC+, hardly Pete Kozma territory.
Matt Carpenter - D-
If Carpenter wanted to do his best Rodney Dangerfield impression, I think it’d be within his right. Carpenter got a bad grade last year. He’ll always get a worse grade than his actual performance. It’s just the type of response he engenders from certain fans. Anyway, Carpenter’s badness is waaaaaay overstated, not just by him, but most fans. He had a 95 wRC+ and 1.2 fWAR in less than 500 PAs. I mean yes that’s below average but not by that much.
Jack Flaherty, Adam Wainwright, Jordan Hicks, Giovanny Gallegos - A
This post is getting a little wordy so I’m combining the four pitchers to get an A. Flaherty and Wainwright are a given. Gordo’s positions towards injuries and grades are inconsistent so Hicks’ A was a slight surprise to me. And I’m also surprised Gallegos got an A, even though he was the best reliever. Cause his September was shaky.
Dakota Hudson - A-
I’m not going to object to this for two primary reasons: there’s no way I would ever expect him to penalize Hudson for bad advanced stats and Hudson did actually pitch about as well as reasonably expected. I did not have high hopes for him coming into the year, and where his SIERA AND FIP ended up (around 5.00) was pretty much my expectation.
Carlos Martinez - B+
That’s about right. Not holding his NLDS performance too much against him (if at all), Martinez was trending a lot closer to an average reliever than a dominant one, which is... a disappointment for a guy who was a 3 WAR starter. Move him back to the rotation.
Ryan Helsley - B; Tyler Webb - B-
Given how small of a sample his regular season work was, here is the rare case where a guy’s postseason performance actually would positively impact my grade. It was 13 percent of his innings at the MLB level this year and they were as dominant as any reliever. Webb’s grade is hard to argue with, although Webb was a lot of smoke and mirrors and I’m worried about bringing him back next year.
Daniel Poncedeleon - C+
“He will need to cut down on this walks (26 in 48 2/3 innings this year) and develop better secondary stuff to stick in the big league rotation.” True, but I think that ship has probably sailed. I’m hoping he can make his stuff work in the bullpen honestly.
John Brebbia, John Gant - C+
I’d probably give both 1 fWAR relievers a better grade, seeing as I don’t really care about the distribution of your value. Both are knocked for their poor 2nd halfs, well in Brebbia’s case, September.
Miles Mikolas - C-
And here I thought we were getting along. “He celebrated his four-year, $68 million contract extension with a mediocre regular season.” He was worth 2.5 fWAR and 2.9 RA9 this year, so I think you’re underrating the hell out of the season he just had. It wasn’t 2018, but if anybody expected him to duplicate that, I hope this season recalibrated their expectations.
Andrew Miller C-
See it’s insane that Andrew Miller and Mikolas have the same grade! Miller was awful, and you could look at any stat to tell you that. His SIERA of 3.82 was okay I guess, but his career SIERA is 3.42 and career ERA is 4.02 so I can’t say his 4.45 ERA is unlucky at all. Even in the playoffs, it felt like he constantly allowed hard contact that found gloves.
Junior Fernandez - C-
Wow is this a harsh grade for someone who started the year in Palm Beach, pitched 11.2 total innings in the majors, and had a 5.40 ERA. Throw in the fact that his xFIP was 3.72 and this is a ridiculous grade. Ignore the advanced stats though: this guy was not expected to be anywhere near an MLB roster before the season, and pitched 11 innings that showed he could by the end and oh yeah he was 22. How is that a C-?
Michael Wacha, Dominic Leone, Mike Mayers - D
I mean yeah.
Luke Gregerson - F
Well this is just kicking a man when he’s down. His career is probably over. Lastly management.
Bill Dewitt - B
“Bill DeWitt Jr. isn’t cheap.” Shot across the bow at some fans with this one and while I myself wouldn’t say this statement, his cheapness is not really so against the field of MLB owners. “He fervently opposes the tank-and-rebuild trend that swept through the industry. DeWitt’s stated goal is to contend every season and the team achieved that again this season.” This right here is the best thing about him.
“Ah, but what if he had dug a little deeper while he still had Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright performing at surprisingly high levels? Could the Cardinals have won another pennant?” This is an impossible question to answer, because the playoffs are random. For all we know, signing them changes the timeline and they have a first round exit. But insert Bryce Harper or Manny Machado in the Nats series, and yeah no they are not the difference between a pennant and being at home right now.
John Mozeliak and Front Office - C
They made the playoffs, yes but I don’t know, I think the front office kind of had an off year. There was nothing as bad as the Tommy Pham trade, but the Goldschmidt trade looks pretty lopsided and then they threw a bad extension on top of it. The Carpenter extension, and I say this as a Carp fan, was deeply unnecessary and looks very bad right now. Gordo mentions not making a move at the deadline, but I didn’t care about that and in the results-oriented business, it worked since the Cards still made the playoffs and they kept their guys.
Mike Shildt - A
“Shildt put the team in motion for 116 stolen bases, tying Washington for the league lead. He worked around key injuries (closer Jordan Hicks, catcher Yadier Molina, second baseman Kolten Wong) to keep the team rolling. He made tough decisions, like relegating Matt Carpenter to a part-time role, while maintaining a terrific clubhouse vibe. In short, he squeezed plenty from a good-but-not-great team.”
Every team deals with injuries, so I’m wary of giving him too much credit for that, but he deserves credit for boosting the run game and the defense by just putting players in a position to succeed. I would dock him to a B+ for leaving starters in for too long pretty consistently, put on full display during the playoffs. He had a truly atrocious NLDS in general. Let’s hope it’s an experience thing and he gets better.