June 9, 2017
What We Talk About When We Talk About Launch Angle
Things are grim for the Cardinals right now. They’ve been disappointing, and worse, they’ve been frustrating. They cough up leads, they make mistakes on the bases and in the field, and the offense is really stuck in neutral. Coming into the season, they had a clear offensive core: Yadier Molina, Matt Carpenter, Aledmys Diaz, Randal Grichuk, Dexter Fowler, and Stephen Piscotty. Two months in, Molina looks too old; Diaz looks too young; Grichuk is in the Florida State League for some reason; and Fowler, Carpenter, and Piscotty simply aren’t producing at a level that might allow them to make up for that.
On the bright side, two Cardinals hitters have emerged as solid contributors, and maybe even a bit more. Jedd Gyorko’s breakout actually began last season, but he’s continued to provide valuable right-handed power. On top of that, the team is now making room for Tommy Pham, and Pham is taking full advantage of his long-awaited opportunity. Through Monday, Pham had 105 plate appearances and was batting .295/.390/.523. At age 29, Pham is going from an interesting platoon outfielder and defensive sub to a legitimate all-around offensive threat.
Pham did an interview with Buster Olney of ESPN over the weekend in which he allowed that he’d made some mechanical changes to help facilitate this leap forward. It’s not hard to see those changes at work. Here’s Pham in 2015: