Pinch hit wonder: Adams' success puts him among league's best -

Pinch hit wonder: Adams' success puts him among league's best

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By John Bailey By John Bailey

(BaseballStL) – Of all the young lights in the Cardinals organization, Matt Adams continues to shine the brightest.

 The youthful slugger has been turning heads all year, and with his two-run eighth inning bomb he added 40,000 more noggins to his total.

Adams’ homer was his ninth of the year, and his third in a pinch hit situation. There is little doubt Big City will get a full season’s worth of at bats in the near future, but in the meantime his pinch hitting prowess is unbelievable.

Of the Cardinals’ 32 pinch hits, Adams has 10 of them. Taking out his 28 at bats, the team is 22 for 105 with no home runs and nine RBIs.

"Whether as a starter of coming in as a pinch hitter, I like to be aggressive in the zone," he told me in the clubhouse Wednesday.

His aggression has paid off. The 24-year-old is responsible for a third of the hits, a third of the RBIs and all of the bombs off the bench. He’s also doing it in tough spots.

Leverage Index is determined by inning, score, outs and runners on base and it measures the pressure of the situation. 1.00 is the neutral. Adams has a leverage index of 1.24, which means his pinch hit situations are higher-than-average pressure.

"I'm locked in whenever I get in the box for the first pitch, but you know you have to take it to that next level when you get down two strikes," he said. His home run Tuesday came on a 2-2 count.

For comparison Ty Wigginton had 32 pinch hit at bats, five hits, no RBIs and his leverage index was .58. He had far less success in more chances under easier circumstances.

Matt Adams has held his own in league standings. He’s tied for second with three homers, tied for third with 10 hits and tied for third with five RBIs. 16 people have more pinch hit at bats than he does.

Manager Mike Matheny has certainly noticed the production in pinch hit situations, and is doing his best to keep the Adams' bat loose. 

"That's hard for any player- experienced or not," he said. "We have to get creative at times to figure out how to get Matt into the game. Obviously last night he came in and had an impact and the only way to keep him doing that sort of thing is to keep him active."  

Matheny started on that strategy immediately as Wednesday night Adams will start for Allen Craig at first base. 

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