ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL13: Kolten Wong #16 of the St. Louis Cardinals hits an RBI single against the Chicago Cubs in the second inning at Busch Stadium on April 13, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) By Dilip Vishwanat
(BaseballStL) -- When Carlos Beltran left the Cardinals in the offseason, manager Mike Matheny knew he had a hard task to fill the second spot in the order, but 12 games into the season and Kolten Wong may serve as Matheny’s answer.
Matheny has been interchanging hitters in the second spot, rotating between Wong, Jhonny Peralta and Peter Bourjos. However in 12 games, Wong has hit in the number two position in 8 of those showing a preference from the manager.
“Yea, I like how he’s going about it,” Matheny said, “He’s making some hard outs.”
In 32 at-bats in the second spot, Wong has 11 hits, 5 RBIs and 3 runs with only 4 strike outs. Matheny credits Wong’s success with his ability to swing at pitches within the strike zone and limiting the amount of bad pitches to chase.
“You don’t see him leaving the zone a lot,” said Matheny, “I just like how he has a real nice idea of his zone, not trying to do too much. He’s got a real good idea and fits well where he is right now.”
According to Brooks Baseball, Wong has seen 122 fastballs and 66 percent of the time he swings at those fastballs that fall within the strike zone. Of those fastballs, he’s only expected to swing and miss 8 percent of the time.
“He’s getting the big at bats when we need them,” Matheny added, “He’s driving the ball.”
Couple Wong’s likelihood to put the ball in play with Matt Carpenter’s ability to get on base, a .434 percentage, and that gives Matheny more opportunities to hit and run with the top of the order. It also puts more potential runners on base for big hitter like Matt Holliday, Matt Adams and Yadier Molina.