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Revisiting pre-season playing time polls

What you guys thought versus what what actually happened

MLB: SEP 06 Nationals at Cardinals

Back when VEB was voting on the top prospects in the system, I was forced to run a head-to-head poll because two players tied. Leonardo Bernal and Joshua Baez had the same exact same percentage and there was no way to resolve it without another vote. So instead of having a singular post dedicated to that, I ran a series of polls, some of which were dedicated to figuring out what prospects VEB liked who were fringy top 20 guys.

But in the same post, I also ran MLB related questions. And they were completely related to playing time. And I don’t know what made me think of those questions at this point in time, but I had realized I had never given an update. What people thought would happen versus what actually happened. So this is that update.

An important thing to note I suppose is that this poll was run on March 6th. Jordan Walker hadn’t made the team yet. Not only did Jordan Walker receive at least the third most plate appearances at outfield, he received the second most, behind only Lars Nootbaar. Even if you count players who once appeared in the outfield, he’s still third (behind Tommy Edman as well). So good call guys!

Just in case you’re feeling too good about yourselves, the loser of this vote was the only one to have 100 PAs. He had more plate appearances by far than anyone else. But how were we to know that the season would be lost? That’s really the only reason he got as many PAs as he did. If things went according to plan, I don’t know if he even makes his MLB debut. He certainly doesn’t get any sort of significant playing time.

Fun fact: Taylor Motter had a .270 ISO last year in AAA. He should absolutely be the answer to this question. Like he got 82 PAs., He should have hit a homer. He did not. Neither did Oscar Mercado. Nobody else made the MLB squad. I have to give credit though for the only two guys to actually make the MLB roster at any point winning this poll.

If you had told me the season had went wrong, I actually would have assumed Pallante would have found his way back in the rotation. I would have been confident the answer was yes, because if things went wrong, Hudson pitched more in the rotation than he should have and Pallante would have been forced back into starting duty. Alas, that is not exactly what happened. Hudson made only 12 starts himself, all after the season was lost.

10 starts was a good number to pick purely because Liberatore actually got 11 MLB starts. I did not like that number because I hoped for closer to 50/50 in results. I think I immediately wished I had increased it to 15. Sadly, the only reason he did not get more was performance-related.

Ah yes, I remember when I was optimistic on Connor Thomas. I’m actually surprised Graceffo got 76% no, because I know most of this site was fairly high on him going into the season. It’s a bit of shock to March me at least that neither of these guys would get a single start even though the season would go so badly.

The five starters being Adam Wainwright, Jordan Montgomery, Miles Mikolas, Steven Matz, and Jack Flaherty with the five above being Connor Thomas, Andre Pallante, Gordon Graceffo, Dakota Hudson and Matthew Liberatore. The real answer was 20+. Zack Thompson made 9 starts, Drew Rom made 8, and Jake Woodford made 8. Even though they were in the organization, Thompson and Woodford would have surprised me at the time of the voting. Obviously I didn’t even know who Drew Rom was, although I would have assumed an outside of the organization pitcher would have made about 8 starts, just that that pitcher would have been Shane Bieber or Tyler Glasnow or something.

Not really a fair race. Misiewicz didn’t make it to the regular season (and ended up in three different organizations by the end of the year). Packy Naughton got hurt pretty early in the year. So even though JoJo Romero spent a good amount of time on the injured list, he wins in a landslide with 27 games to Packy’s 4 and Anthony’s 0.

Even if Wilking Rodriguez was healthy all year, it would have been tough to beat Pallante’s team-leading 62 appearances, which is insane because he was in the minors for a few weeks.

This was not really a fair fight since Donovan not only missed the last two months, but was also confined to DH before he officially had to be put on the injured list. Nonetheless, I feel vindicated. I was pretty adamant that Gorman was going to start more at 2B than people were assuming and I even I have receipts on my feelings at the time in a comment on that post:

“I’ll just say that I think the majority is wrong and Nolan Gorman is starting more games at 2B this year. I don’t think the Cards by any stretch of the imagination have written Gorman off as a 2B, which most of you have. If they can avoid it, teams don’t consign players as young as Gorman to DH if they can help it. Also Donovan will play all over.”

It looks like Gorman had 32 starts to Donovan’s 30 starts when Donovan stopped playing in the field, which makes this look closer than it would have been I think. In 9 of the 11 games before Donovan had to exclusively DH, Gorman was the starting 2B. Which makes sense. The utility aspect of Donovan would be needed more as more players got injured than at the beginning when most are healthy.

I think if had put the plate appearance total that Paul DeJong actually got, it would have been 100% no. Paul DeJong got 306 PAs and not only that, he was a 1.4 fWAR player in that time. That’s a 2.8 fWAR player over 600 PAs. Kind of crazy think about if DeJong is legit done as a good or even average player.

Now this... this is a snapshot of March 6th. Maybe even a snapshot of March 31st. The craziest part is that Burleson would be an even more insane answer if you assumed Walker would get a lot of appearances in the MLB... which he did. Somehow Burleson lasted all year without getting sent down. Juan Yepez was barely on the team. And not only that, he was very bad in AAA.

So that was an interesting exercise. Would have liked to see these results in an alternate history where the Cardinals were actually good enough to make the playoffs. It feels like a few answers were dictated by the Cardinals being bad. But then again, Wilking Rodriguez is still hurt, Brendan Donovan would still need to full-time DH, and it’s not like it’s more likely Graceffo or Thomas get starts if Cardinals are good. So they might all be the same.