Let’s just play along in a world where Jason Heyward signs with the St. Louis Cardinals and retains his spot in right field. All signs point to the two sides coming to an agreement sometime this winter. I wouldn’t bet your mortgage on it, but take a leap of faith with me anyway and let’s talk about first base in 2016. For my money, the position belongs to Stephen Piscotty, the Stanford whiz kid who came up and energized what existed of the Cards second half attack.
Piscotty was one of the few Cards to contribute more than a solo home run in the postseason against the Chicago Cubs. He helped put Game 1 away, tried to pull his team back in Game 3, and started off Game 4 right with a two run home run. He was the Cards best hitter from August until the end, so that means you make room for him in 2016. Whether it is in the outfield or at first base, Piscotty will play.
When Heyward returns, he takes over right field. Randal Grichuk, who was challenging Kris Bryant and Joc Pederson for the rookie of the year award before an August elbow injury slowed him down, takes over center field. Matt Holliday enters the final deal of his seven year contract and will play in left field. An offseason of rest should do that 35 year old body good after an i njury plagued 2015 campaign. Tommy Pham and Jon Jay will anchor the 4th and 5th outfielder spots, giving the starters rest and challenging for more time. Don’t sleep on Pham remaining a mere backup, but he starts 2016 that way if J Hey returns.
That leaves first base to Piscotty and for good reason. I am sorry, but the Matt Adams starter show at first is over and has been for a while. Since the midway point of 2014, Adams has lost his power stroke and become an ordinary hitter. He doesn’t even take the ball to left field anymore or hit for average. This trend was in high gear before he tore his quad in May. Adams was on a tear in the first half of 2014, but after the All Star break, he only slugged .358. In 2015, he slugged .377. Somewhere along the line, Adams lost his big gravy boom stick. When he was slugging, his weak showing against lefties was digestible, but once the power left he became a dry entity. The future is now, and that is Piscotty, who I like call “COTTY” because it’s less characters on Twitter and rolls off the tongue better.
Piscotty is too good to make wait. He hit .305 in 233 at bats and slugged .494 and contributed several big hits down the stretch and in the playoffs. If the Cards want to get better on offense, shoving three guys at a position and seeing who sticks isn’t the right move. If the Cards retain Brandon Moss(same type of hitter as Adams but more flexible in field), there’s no room for Adams. If the plan is to bring Heyward back, there is no room for Adams. He’s a worn out idea in St. Louis and with the decreasing slug and out of time position play, he could be a trade candidate this winter. With Piscotty’s emergence, Adams became expendable.
First base is an important spot to have nailed down heading into 2016 with a beefier more menacing division to deal with and Stephen Piscotty solidifies that position for the Cards moving forward.