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St. Louis Cardinals batting splits by defensive position: 2002-2014

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It's time for our annual offseason sOPS+ chart.

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

There are multiple ways by which one can gauge a team's offensive production. One can compare every player to the MLB average, but this doesn't account for the difference in production for different positions. For example, left fielder typically produce more with the bat than second basemen. Because of this reality, a couple years ago, I started putting together a chart that compares the St. Louis Cardinals' offensive production using the Baseball-Reference stat sOPS+.

By now you're probably familiar with the so-called plus stats. The stats are weighted so that 100 is exactly league average. Every point above 100 is a percentage point better than average; every point below 100 is a percentage point worse than average. So it is with OPS+, which is also park adjusted.

The "s" in sOPS+ stands for split. It's a wonderful feature of the B-R pages. (I wish Fangraphs would make an analogous stat for wRC+.) Whereas OPS+ is adjusted so that the overall MLB average OPS is 100, sOPS+ is adjusted so that 100 represents the MLB average for a given split. For our exercise today, we're going to look at team splits by defensive position. An example: the sOPS+ for catchers means that 100 is the MLB average OPS for batters who are playing the defensive position of catcher. The stat is comparing players by defensive position.

St. Louis Cardinals sOPS+ by Defensive Position (2002-2014)

Season

C

1B

2B

SS

3B

LF

CF

RF

2001

76

96

109

90

116

116

150

123

2002

90

89

88

119

105

119

148

97

2003

82

107

88

137

136

130

141

96

2004

78

165

88

97

148

82

163

97

2005

72

148

88

113

85

110

126

101

2006

63

146

89

94

130

91

95

95

2007

86

132

78

93

83

104

97

86

2008

100

148

103

78

115

98

122

123

2009

105

150

100

104

75

99

87

90

2010

95

146

87

74

79

134

122

101

2011

123

122

102

98

106

162

100

118

2012

132

113

92

104

124

129

102

119

2013

115

102

136

72

93

138

98

122

2014

96

102

79

126

111

121

95

67

Some observations:

  • Albert Pujols was so awesome.
  • Jim Edmonds belongs in the Hall of Fame.
  • The Cardinals' 2014 right-field batting production was just horrendous. St. Louis hasn't had offensive production that bad relative to the league-average for a position since 2006, when Yadier Molina (.217/.276/.324) and Gary Bennett (.229/.280/.340) gave the Cards a punchless  one-two combination behind the dish. The awful batting from right fielders in 2014 is one of the reasons Jason Heyward might very well represent the biggest upgrade at any position for any team from 2014 to 2015.
  • Pete Kozma and Daniel Descalso were a miserable hitting combination at shortstop in 2013. Jhonny Peralta was really terrific in 2014. It's difficult to overstate how much of upgrade Peralta was at shortstop or how important he was to the club's division title last year.
  • A.J. Pierzynski was pretty awful after the Cardinals signed him last year. I find Pierzynski's jerkishness as entertaining as anyone, but that doesn't mean he's any good at baseball. For Boston, Pierzynski batted .254/.286/.348. The Red Sox then cut him loose. After Molina hit the disabled list, the Cardinals signed Pierzynski. He hit .244/.295/.305 for the Cards while stabbing at balls from behind the plate. I can't believe Atlanta signed Pierzynski. Of course, Tony Cruz was even worse with the bat. If Molina is able to handle the innings load he did in the years prior to 2014, his batting will be a sizable upgrade over last season's catcher production, which plummeted thanks to the PIerzynski/Cruz combination.
  • In 2013, Jon Jay posted a 100 sOPS+ in center. Last year, he hit for a 110 sOPS+ while receiving a majority of the center-field plate appearances. But Peter Bourjos (and to a lesser extent Oscar Taveras and Randal Grichuk) hit poorly, so the Cards' overall center-field batting line was below average.
  • Matt Adams is a perfectly cromulent first baseman—especially for the league minimum.
  • Matt Carpenter: Pretty good.
  • Matt Holliday: Really good.