Tommy Edman’s playing time has been the topic of conversation seemingly since he first stepped foot on a Major League field. During his time on the big league roster he has offered around an average mix of offense and defense and above average baserunning. In 185 plate appearances he has accumulated .7 fWAR. His .271/.303/.429 slash line equates to an 89 wRC+. Edman never walked much and that trend has continued during his stint with the Cardinals. He was walked 3.8% of the time and stuck out 19.5%. All this amounts to completely fine performance so far, but there are some red flags.
Not to push the Matt Carpenter versus Tommy Edman agenda here, but the two make an interesting comparison. Carpenter is hitting .213/.321/.366 for an 84 wRC+. His ISO is .153 to Edman’s .158. This is about all the pair of players have in common, though. While Edman’s results have been from putting a lot of balls in play and finding holes — he boasts a .316 BABIP right now —, Carpenter’s game has always been seeing a lot of pitches and smacking the mistakes. His struggles this year has brought his strikeout rate up to a career worst 25.7% and when he has put the ball in play, he has not been able to do much with it. His BABIP is also a career-worst .267 and his ISO is the lowest it has been since 2014. Carpenter’s walk rate is still where it has always been, though, sitting at a solid 12.7%. This is likely why despite his much lower batting average, Carpenter has been able to get on base at a more efficient rate than Edman.
As of this point right now, Tommy Edman and Matt Carpenter has been similarly productive players offensively, with Edman having a slight edge on defense and on the bases. Carpenter is in the midst of the worst season of his career. Tommy Edman is in the first season of his career. Who do you choose? The struggling player with the proven track record or the similarly productive player with no major league history that the data indicates is playing to his potential?
With all this information, Mike Shildt announced that Tommy Edman will be a regular in the lineup. Time will tell just what the Cardinals manager means and if it was the correct choice.
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