It's ironic that it seems, in a season in which the St. Louis Cardinals are getting sub-par performances across the roster, that the few players who are performing at or above expectations are the ones who are getting the most heat.
Leadoff man Matt Carpenter is hitting 37 points less this year than in 2013 and 17 points below his career average. With 3/4 of the season over, he's hit less than half of the number of doubles he had in the previous year. His slugging percentage is 93 points lower than last year and 55 points lower than his career average. He's made 11 errors already this year, one less than all of last season.
Kolten Wong was supposed to be ready to take over at second base on a full time basis in 2014. But he's struggled to find consistency both at the plate and in the field which caused him to be demoted mid-season to Class AAA Memphis. While he's shown streaks of greatness, Wong is hitting only .253 and he's struck out nearly four times as many times as he has walked for a disappointing .294 on base percentage. He has hit a surprising total of nine home runs. But the Cardinals need Wong to get on base and score runs, not to swing for the fences. With his small size, swinging for the fences is not a strategy that is going to hold up over time.
Allen Craig, who I believe the Redbirds gave up on too quickly, was struggling to hit .240 and couldn't find his power when he was shipped to the Boston Red Sox with Joe Kelly to land pitcher John Lackey. It was less than two seasons after the Cardinals inked him to a long term contract extension and only one year after Craig had one of the best seasons in the last four decades when it came to driving in runs.
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People are on the fence about Jhonny Peralta. While I hear some people say that he's better than they thought he'd be, a lot of other folks seem disappointed that he isn't having the sort of season he did last year with the Detroit Tigers. So, yeah, Peralta is hitting 41 points lower than he did last year. But his .262 batting average is actually only five points less than his career average. Peralta is having one of his best home run seasons with 16 so far. He could conceivably reach his career high of 24. If the lineup around him was hitting better, Peralta would be thought of as a bonus compared to weak-hitting Pete Kozma. But since no one else is hitting, it makes the demand for his contributions higher.
Matt Holliday leads the National League in game-winning RBIs and hits into less double plays per at bat than the speedy Wong. But he's under a microscope because of his relatively large contract and, at 34, he's expected to continue to play like he's 29. Through that filter, his .262 average with 12 homers is a letdown, even if offense is down across baseball.
Catcher Yadier Molina started off the season on fire. But that heat quickly disappeared and he dropped into the .280s before he was sidelined by a thumb injury.
Even Matt Adams, who has been the Redbirds best hitter for average this season, has been at least a little bit of a disappointment. He was supposed to be the power in the middle of the batting order and he hasn't been able to consistently produce long balls. He's hit 12 homers which ties him for second on the club with Holliday who we've already discussed as a disappointment to many fans because he hasn't hit for more power.
So it's strange that so many people are on the case of centerfielder Jon Jay who is the offensive player who has best lived up to expectations. He's hitting five points better than his career .294 average and his on-base percentage of .364 is the second best of his five-year career.