As a team, the Cardinals were really bad at hitting offspeed pitches. Most players recorded wOBAs above the low .200s, with a good amount of players actually finishing with a wOBA below .200. This was the worst pitch type for a Cardinals’ hitter to face last season as there few bright spots and nearly everyone failed to square up, or even hit, the pitch. Even though the team struggled as a whole, there were a few players who struggled more than the rest. The first of these was Matt Wieters as the backup catcher batted just .107 with a .153 wOBA. However, as he had a significantly smaller sample size compared to the other three players on this list, he will not count as one of the three worst changeup hitters on the team.
Matt Carpenter (.122 BA, .161 wOBA)
Carpenter was the worst changeup hitter on the team last year, at least among players with 150 or ore plate appearances. The third baseman posted an average exit velocity of just 83.4 mph and a whiff rate of 34.4%. It is hard to have any kind of success with those numbers. However, Carpenter’s 2019 results declined significantly from the previous year when he batted .221 with a .307 wOBA. Those numbers are not great, but they are a significant improvement from 2019. This decline fits in with Carpenter’s overall decline from 2018 to 2019. Obviously, if he could improve against changeups, then he would be a better hitter. However, he needs to improve against all pitches, and considering his precipitous drop in production from 2018 to 2019 as well as his age (34), it seems unlikely that he will ever return to his 2018 numbers. Instead, there is a chance that he could bounce back to at least an average level of production at the plate, and re-learning how to hit changeups could give him a boost in that endeavor.
Dexter Fowler (.135 BA, .175 wOBA)
Unsurprisingly, the two worst hitters are two under-performing veterans in Carpenter and Dexter Fowler. Fowler had a similarly difficult time facing changeups as his exit velocity was even lower than Carpenter’s (80.0 mph) and his whiff rate was an even higher 35.3%. Offspeed pitches were 18% of all the pitches that Fowler faced at the plate last season, and while this is a small percentage when compared to fastballs and breaking balls, it is still significant enough for his struggles against the pitch to affect his overall stat line. Additionally, unlike Carpenter, Fowler struggled at a similar rate against offspeed pitches last year, and considering his age, it is not likely that he makes any kind of substantial improvement this season.
Paul DeJong (.154 BA, .204 wOBA)
DeJong is the player on this list with the best chance of improving against offspeed pitches. The shorstop has previously demonstrated an ability to hit offspeed pitches as he crushed them in 2017 (.369 wOBA), declined in 2018 (.253 wOBA) and cratered in 2019. However, he has shown the ability to be a good overall hitter since establishing himself as the team’s starting shortstop, and given his age, there is plenty of reason for optimism. His needs to hit the ball harder and square it up more as his average exit velocity of 83.8 mph is not good enough. However, it is somewhat difficult to decipher DeJong’s statistics at the plate last season considering his second half slump last year that dragged down all of his numbers. He is one of the most interesting players on the team to follow this season as he will look to demonstrate that his second half struggles last season were simply a fluke. One thing that is clear is that he needs to improve against non-fastballs. He has shown in the past that he can have success against all pitches as he crushed breaking pitches last season and crushed offspeed pitches in 2017. Now he needs to adjust and get consistently find his ability to hit every kind of pitch.