ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -- If I were to draw up a lineup for Mike Matheny based on how things should be in a perfect world – yes, I know, things are never perfect – Matt Carpenter and Kolten Wong would hit at the top. Carpenter’s on-base skills are perfect for leadoff while Wong’s speed and power combination suit the second spot in the order.
At 32 years old, Yadier Molina – for me – would hit 7th as to not be too pressurized into a middle of the order bat. Jon Jay, some may disagree, is ideal depth at the bottom of the order due to his .300 hitting ability but lack of power, speed and on-base percentage. Jay would be fantastic in the 8 spot if everyone else was doing their job.
That leaves open the middle of the order, 3-6. Sure, Matt Holliday and Jhonny Peralta would factor in there somewhere. And, again in a perfect world, Oscar Taveras would too. He’s the real key to everything moving forward. Whether or not Taveras turns into the star everyone thinks he can become might determine what moves GM John Mozeliak makes or doesn’t make.
But there’s another key. His name is Matt Adams. Looking into the future, what is the middle of the Cardinals order? Holliday has just two guaranteed years left on his deal and isn’t getting any younger. Peralta’s the same way.
Even if Oscar Taveras turns into a legit number 3 hitter that still leaves the void for another. If it’s not Adams, who is it? Adams is the 1st baseman, after all. That’s the spot that necessitates power.
Can Adams be that guy down the line? The answer to that question is maybe just as important as the one surrounding Taveras. For the season, the Philipsburg, Pennsylvania native hit .288 (not bad) with a .321 OBP (not awful either). The problem was his power.
A .779 OPS is fine…if you’re a 2nd baseman.
It’s not fine if you’re a 1st baseman. Adams popped 15 home runs in 527 at-bats which is also a relatively disappointing number. Adams was much better pre-All Star break than he was post. His batting average dropped 94 points while his slugging percentage dropped 174.
Plus, as everyone is well aware, the 1st baseman struggled against lefties. Hitting .318 against righties is good, but hitting .190 against left-handed pitching is not. That screams platoon. That screams the need for someone else – a righty – to start against lefties.
If that’s the case with Adams then he can’t be the starting 1st baseman long term. That’s not enough power and not enough consistency. But if Adams continues to develop and grow at the age of 26 maybe there’s a chance he can still be that guy.
It’s impossible to know right now how much Adams will improve over the next year or two. I’d wager a guess that his development shapes the future of the heart of the Cardinals lineup.