Every year, Jeff Gordon of the Post-Dispatch gives individual Cardinals players grades for their performance. He usually provides grades from the perspective of someone stuck in 1994, who seemingly goes by “feel” and not by any consistent, internal logic. So let’s jump right in and see what Gordon has in store this year. I did not read any of these beforehand so what I write down is the first thought that comes to my mind.
Tommy Edman - A
This was written on July 10, and Edman’s stats have gotten worse, even with the great game yesterday. But from a guy who wasn’t expected to contribute at all, I find it hard to quibble with him on the grading. That said, “He bypassed more experienced utility men Edmundo Sosa and Drew Robinson to earn fill-in work when injuries hit the Cardinals this summer” is a strange thing to write when Edmundo Sosa had a grand total of 3 MLB plate appearances to earn his “more experience” credentials.
Yadier Molina - B-
This is, to say the least, GENEROUS. Molina has been a replacement level player. “Molina remained a steady presence in the batting order until he suffered his thumb injury. He is hitting .274 as the No. 6 batter this season.” I suppose he’s not technically wrong that Molina was a steady presence, in that his presence was steady, but he was batting .265/.294/.397 on May 28th which I would not call good. Considering Yadi has a 3.3 BB% and a .107 ISO, his .274 average at the 6th spot, as useless of a stat as that is, probably means he hasn’t been good there either.
Marcell Ozuna - B
I don’t think he needs an A, but this seems low. Gordon just spouts his RBI stats per month, with the B grade presumably being because he only had 12 RBIs in June.
Jose Martinez - B
No arguments here, but it just reflects the poor grade given to Ozuna. Does Gordon see Ozuna and Martinez as equivalent players? Probably not. Is he grading Ozuna harder because of expectations? Well Martinez has a 100 wRC+ and was projected for 114 so that would also be weird logic.
Yairo Munoz - B
“Munoz does not draw walks -- he has just two in 90 plate appearances -- so he needs a bit more plate discipline.” That’s... correct.
Dexter Fowler - C
If you think that grade is confusing, he doesn’t even remotely attempt to justify it, writing a paragraph that in no way indicates that he gave him a C grade: “He put last season’s nightmare (.180 batting average, season-ending foot injury) behind him to approximate his previous form. Fowler (.254, 10 doubles, 10 homers, 32 RBIs) is generally rewarding manager Mike Shildt’s confidence. He is hitting .255 from the right side of the plate after hitting just .161 there last season. As an added bonus, Fowler has held up as a center fielder this season and allowed Jose Martinez to play some right field.” Then he gave him a C? What?
Kolten Wong - C
If you grade people according to expectation, I would probably give him a C+. But this is another paragraph that could have easily been written for a B grade, because the only thing he says negative about him is that his bat runs hot and cold, which is barely even negative.
Matt Wieters - C-
Okay here’s where I ask for some consistency. Wieters had a 79 wRC+ at the break, which was better than Yadi. He’s also been good at throwing out runners, which Gordon mentioned in Yadi’s blurb but not Wieters. The grade is based off a 3 for 33 sample when Molina was hurt, so I assume Wieters performance lately will change his mind.
Tyler O’Neill - C-
The unfortunate downside to writing this a week later: things have changed a lot. Harsh, but not totally unfair grade a week ago.
Paul Goldschmidt - D+
“His .769 OPS is well off his career average of .917.” He’s got him there.
Paul DeJong - D+
Here is an example of something Gordon does that bothers me very much. He gives a shit if the player is “inconsistent.” If a player will produce almost entirely in one month, he will give you a D+, even if that month is enough to make you an All-Star. If you are below average for three straight months, that’s better according to his logic. He also dings him for batting .174 with RISP and .138 with RISP and two outs. “But he has remained a consistently solid fielder.” Solid is underselling him quite a bit there Gordo.
You know I was getting afraid that he was giving me semi-reasonable grades with iffy reasoning. But he has a reputation as a writer you can skip for a reason and oh boy did he earn it with this one. I only apologize to those of you that were blissfully unaware that there is a man out there thinking NATIONAL LEAGUE ALL-STAR Paul DeJong is a D+ player.
Harrison Bader - D
Gordon’s not really alone on this one, but some of you are expecting too much of Bader. He had a .358 BABIP for his 106 wRC+ last year. His BABIP at the break was .266. That pretty much entirely explains the difference in wRC+ from this year to last. Bader is an elite defender, below average bat who you hope can BABIP his way to a good hitting line, but please don’t expect more than that or you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment.
Jedd Gyorko - D
Sure I guess I mean he got 62 plate appearances, there’s really not a lot to go off of here.
Matt Carpenter - F
This is probably almost entirely due to average, but he’s been more valuable than Yadier Molina this year by WAR, and before you say that’s why it’s a bad stat, it’s not because Carpenter has been good. I think his performance puts him pretty easily in D territory, but Carpenter is just one of those guys who infuriates people when he’s struggling and Molina is not at all.
John Gant, Jordan Hicks - A; Giovanny Gallegos - A-
Gallegos should be lumped in with the As, but whatever close enough.
Dakota Hudson - A-
Little surprised by the A- given his comments that he needs to work on his walks and that he’s retired more than 18 batters just four times (which is weirdly specific). Given my expectations for Hudson, I’d be tempted to go this high, but he did have a 5.00 FIP and 4.30 xFIP at the break and that’s not really A- worthy. Not that Gordon is looking at those stats.
Carlos Martinez - A-
Come on let’s get to the good stuff.
Daniel Poncedeleon - B+
Seems kind of arbitrary for it be that low given he had a 2.16 ERA at the time of the All-Star break.
Ryan Helsley - B
I mean no he should probably be lower (4.86 FIP, 4.44 xFIP), but decent ERA so he gets the decent grade.
John Brebbia - B
Come on Gordon, please give me something good. None of these are objectionable.
Andrew Miller - B-
I’m a little surprised it’s this good of a grade honestly. I guess 3.80 ERA at the time and 3.30 xFIP with an inflated FIP from homers makes this grade pretty spot on.
Adam Wainwright - C
Huh? “His bottom line (5-7, 4.31 ERA in 16 starts) is about the best that could be reasonably expected at this very late career stage.” Oh okay so it’s because he’s 5-7. Cool. Also if this is the best that can be expected, you’re not grading players according to expectations apparently.
Jack Flaherty - C
Eh this is basically fair. Honestly pitchers is boring to do here because the reason is almost certainly ERA, as opposed to the hitters, which has all sorts of twisted logic.
Miles Mikolas - D
Flaherty ERA at break: 4.64; Mikolas at break: 4.53. That’s how you know he does this by “feel.” There is not much consistency across his grades. Also, so we are using expectations against you? Or is just the people who got paid, because he mentions - again - the contract extension of a player, seemingly justifying the lower grade, even though the contract extension does not apply to this year. Stop penalizing players for getting paid, Jeff.
Michael Wacha - D
I refuse to believe Gordon thinks Wacha and Mikolas are equivalent pitchers, and yet somehow they have the same exact grade? “He has looked like his old self at times this season.” No, he really hasn’t! Even when he’s “good” (by ERA), he still doesn’t look all that good. He’s been shockingly bad. He has started 14 games. He has a 4.98 FIP or worse in 11 of those games.
Luke Gregerson - F
Sure kick a man while he’s down why don’t you.
He’s been worse in year’s past. I’ll give him that. I’m not sure he’s ever had as bad of a grade as DeJong with a D+ though. That’s pretty inexplicable. Also thinking Miles Mikolas and Michael Wacha are having equivalent seasons. That was a strange one. He really needs a short paragraph beforehand, saying how he’s coming to these grades, but he so obviously puts two seconds of thought into this. Anyway I hope you enjoyed this and if you didn’t, well, you know, that’s just like your opinion, man.