ST. LOUIS, Mo. (BaseballStL) -- Sports has turned more into dealing with pressure and hype than it has pretty much anything else over the last decade or two. There are a whole lot of athletes out there – young and old – who have an obscene amount of talent.
Unfortunately, there are a whole lot of athletes out there who have folded under that intense pressure. It’s human nature. Some can deal with it and be themselves. Some can’t.
Ladies and gentlemen, we’re about to find out which category Oscar Taveras falls under. For years the young phenom heard about how good he is going to be at the Major League level. He was literally compared to Albert Pujols by his own general manager.
Then he comes to the big leagues and hits .239 in 234 regular season at-bats.
How Taveras responds to this adversity and how much he lets the hype get to him can quite possibly make the difference between two drastically different courses the Cardinals take offensively moving forward. The 22-year old is the closest thing this franchise has to a middle-of-the-order bat among its prospects.
Whether he shows he can develop into that #3 hitter for the next 10 years quite possibly could determine if GM John Mozeliak needs to make a blockbuster. That’s because if Mozeliak doesn’t believe Taveras will be “that guy” in the future he has to find someone who will.
There’s no one else in this organization who projects to hit 3rd or 4th three or four years from now. Matt Adams hasn’t hit for enough power consistently, let alone against lefties. Randal Grichuk? Probably not. Stephen Piscotty? He’s not really a power hitter.
So once Matt Holliday fades into the twilight of his career there’s going to be a need – if it’s not there already – for someone to hit right smack in the middle of this lineup. It has to be Taveras. He’s the one who can strike fear into opposing pitchers. He can hit .300 with 30-35 home runs.
He can be your best player by far.
If not? It might be time to start looking at trade options. Giancarlo Stanton would be awfully expensive but if that means getting a true power hitter in there it may be worth it.
Taveras’ ability to develop into “that guy” could determine the strategy this franchise takes.