The St. Louis Cardinals finished 2nd in the National League Central Division this year and made the playoffs as the 2nd NL wild card team. Here is my take on the infield play this year in St. Louis.
Lance Berkman, 1st base - I loved having Berkman as a Cardinal in 2011, when he hit 31 home runs and helped the Cardinals win the World Series. Sadly, there was no 2nd act to this late-career resurgence. Berkman struggled with knee issues this season and was limited to 81 at-bats in 2012. Grade: Incomplete
Allen Craig, 1st base - The only silver lining found in Berkman's injuries was the chance to immediately put Allen Craig into the lineup on a full-time basis. He responded as Cardinals fans hoped he would. Craig hit .307 and drove in 92 runs in just 119 games. He missed all of April and half of May with injuries, and he has Cards fans dreaming about the numbers he'll put up over a full season. Grade: A
Tyler Greene, 2nd base - Greene was given every chance to prove himself as a major leaguer. A former first round draft pick, Greene struggled to a .218 average before the Cards dumped him in an August trade to the Houston Astros. Grade: F
Daniel Descalso, 2nd base - I love Descalso. He's a gamer, and he had big hits in the 2011 and 2012 postseasons. But over a full season, his weak hitting (.227) just doesn't overcome his good defense. It's possible the Cardinals decide that his glove is valuable enough, given the many other good hitters in their lineup. But I'd like to see just a bit more offensive production from this position. Grade: C+
Rafael Furcal, shortstop - Furcal burst out of the gates in 2012. He hit .315 in April and .349 as part of a monster May. But the next three months he slumped to averages of .176, .247 and .227. He lost his leadoff spot to Jon Jay, and he was shut down in August with an elbow injury. Grade: B-
David Freese, 3rd base - Freese finally played a full season in 2012. His 144 games played and 501 at-bats were both career highs by wide margins. Freese had a good, if not spectacular, season at the plate. He hit .293 with 20 home runs and 79 RBIs. His OBP, OPS and slugging numbers were also all career highs. Freese tailed off after July, but I see him ready for a big 2013 campaign. Grade: B+
Pete Kozma, shortstop - Kozma got the call when Furcal went down for the season. A light hitter in the minor leagues, he tore it up in St. Louis. In 26 games Kozma hit .333 with 14 RBIs. He also had one of the biggest hits in the playoffs, a 9th inning go-ahead single against the Washington Nationals in Game 5 of the Division Series. Kozma's career was on life support earlier in the summer, but his clutch play in September and October bought him a reprieve. Grade: AA native of St. Louis, Brad Boeker has rooted for the Cardinals for over 40 years.
- Sports & Recreation
- Lance Berkman
- Allen Craig