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March 19, 2014

Painting the Black

Up and Adams

by R.J. Anderson


You know how Earl Weaver used to break his starters in as relievers? Lately the Cardinals have employed a similar approach with their position players. St. Louis has initiated its youth in bench roles, then pushed them into everyday duty after they're acclimated to the majors. This practice has played to perfection in each of the past three seasons.

Jon Jay ascended from fourth outfielder duty in 2011 to become a reliable center-field option. His emergence freed John Mozeliak to make the unpopular, if successful Colby Rasmus trade en route to a World Series title. Mozeliak's hardihood was on display again months later, as he allowed Albert Pujols to leave via free agency. No worries, said Allen Craig, who in the ensuing season doubled his career games played total and almost matched El Hombre's OPS+. Then came last year, when super-utility man Matt Carpenter took over at the keystone and accumulated the fourth-most WARP in the majors.

As a result, a pattern seeker might look at recent history and finger Matt Adams as a player who could have a breakout season. Adams is, after all, the latest graduate from the most mystical apprenticeship program this side of a Susanna Clarke novel. Last season the portly first baseman served in a reserve role, playing mostly against right-handed pitchers, and posted a .289 True Average—the 15th-best mark among first baseman whom exceeded 300 plate appearances. Adams' game is power, and he homered in 5 percent of his plate appearances. Do the math and over a full season that prorates to 30 home runs: a mark that just six first basemen reached last season, as opposed to the 10 who did it in 2003.

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Filling... (03/19)
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Premium Article Painting the Black: Sp... (03/07)
Next Column >>
Painting the Black: Th... (03/21)
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Premium Article Notes from the Field: ... (03/19)

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