ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- All eyes are on 25-year-old Randal Grichuk in 2017. Cardinals’ starting left fielder Randal Grichuk is expected to have his best season yet. If this is the case, then this is bad news for any pitcher facing him.
Last season, Grichuk slashed a .240/.289/.480 line along with a .769 OPS. He hit 24 home runs, 29 doubles, three triples, and 68 RBI’s among 478 plate appearances. His defense was also a story. Out of the 119 games played in the outfield, Grichuk only committed one error and had a fielding percentage of .996. In 2016, Grichuk saved about three runs per game primarily due to his strong arm. Along with Stephen Piscotty and former Cub and World Champion Dexter Fowler, the Cardinals are set up for a solid outfield.
Despite shocking news at the 2017 Winter Warm-Up about having a procedure done on his knee, Grichuk didn’t appear to slow down. He got through spring training fine and played hero in the Opening Night matchup with the Cubs.
What does Grichuk have to offer?
Well, I can tell you what Grichuk doesn’t have to offer: Sympathy towards any baseball that’s thrown to him. Below is a chart provided by Fangraphs.com, showing Grichuk’s slugging percentage versus every pitcher faced in 2016. (On mobile? click here)
If a pitcher throws down and inside to Grichuk, they’ve made a terrible mistake. With the right amount of plate discipline, Grichuk has a way of seeking out pitches to crush --- and that is the exact kind of power that the Cardinals need. More importantly, Grichuk knows how hit with men on base. With runners in scoring position, Grichuk has a batting average of .327. This is important --- especially if Grichuk is in the middle of the lineup.
Despite struggling against the Cincinnati Reds with a batting average of .180, Grichuk still strives against the rest of the National League Central. Grichuk hits .283 against the Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates. And against the Milwaukee Brewers, he hits .267. With the NL Central competition becoming fiercer, the Cardinals will need all the power they can get --- and Grichuk has exactly that to offer.
Looking up and down the lineup, Grichuk is a perfect fit. Dexter Fowler is a gifted table setter and one of the game’s best baserunners. Stephen Piscotty and Aledmys Diaz are both difficult strikeouts and both offer 20-homer power. Matt Carpenter, who is one of the game’s best hitters and led all of baseball in OPS during the first half of 2016.
Grichuk is the perfect type of bat to follow such a top four. His raw power not only means home runs, but an increased likelihood of finding space for balls to get through. If he can avoid chasing pitches outside of the zone, his chance for damage increases exponentially. That means more runs, which means more wins for the Cardinals.