Feldman: The key to offensive improvement in 2015 falls to 2nd b - KMOV.com

Feldman: The key to offensive improvement in 2015 falls to 2nd base

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By John Bailey By John Bailey

Brian Feldman / BaseballStL | @BFeldman

ST. LOUIS, Mo.-- Many would argue the way the Cardinals can get closer to their 2013 level production on offense when they were 3rd in Major League Baseball with 783 runs scored (compared to being tied for 23rd last year while scoring just 619) is through right field.


I get it.  It makes sense.  Jason Heyward represents the big offensive acquisition of the winter.  The man has the ability to hit for 30 home runs and some still believe he has MVP caliber talent still left in that body.


But let’s be honest.  The difference between Heyward’s worst case scenario and best case scenario isn’t nearly as large as – say – Kolten Wong’s. 


If everything goes wrong for Jason Heyward he’ll still hit in the .270 or .280 range, he’ll still get on base at a pretty good clip and he’ll still play Gold Glove defense in right field.  Barring a terrible injury that keeps him off the field for an extended period of time there really isn’t a scenario where the Cards get poor production from the Georgia boy.


Wong, meanwhile, is different.  He’s a young player (still just 24) who is trying to mentally grasp the fact he can be the best player on the team.  Last year as a rookie Wong was all over the place.  He’d be gripping the bat so tight trying to make an impression you could practically see the wood being sawed off in his own hands.


He defined inconsistent.  One day Wong would go 0-4 with a pair of strikeouts and the next he’d go 3-4 with a double and home run.


Just check out his home run totals if you need proof.  The Hawaii native popped 12 in the regular season before hitting three more in the playoffs.  After getting recalled from AAA on July 6th Wong had just one home run.  But that day began a streak of hitting five in just a seven day span.


Early August brought another three homer binge in six days.  Back-to-back home runs followed on August 31st and September 1st as well.  Then we all remember him hitting three postseason homers in a six day stretch. 


The power comes in bunches.  That tells me when Kolten Wong stops thinking so much and walks up to the plate with the utmost confidence in himself he can do absolutely anything.  There isn’t another player on the Cardinals roster who has the ability to hit 20-25 home runs and steal 20-25 bases. 


Maybe Heyward.  He was a 20/20 guy for Atlanta back in 2012.  But remember Heyward has really struggled against lefties in his career.  Wong hasn’t.  In fact, if you break down Kolten’s disappointing .249 average last year he was far worse against right-handed pitching (.234 in 329 at-bats) than he was facing left-handed pitching (.315 in 73 ABs). 


It’s my contention – and has been for a while – Kolten Wong could be the best hitter on the Cardinals.  He has the raw talent to stake such a claim.  The key is simply going to be getting out of his own way in 2015 and accepting that fact.

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