Let’s tip the cap to Brendan Donovan.
Other than Albert Pujols launching rockets with unexpected regularity, Donovan is the most pleasant surprise of the Cardinals’ 2022 season.
Donovan’s grand-slammer Thursday that took down the Padres was electric, and the timely home run just reminded us of how important he’s been to the Cardinals this season.
In 427 plate appearances Donovan is batting .279 with a .390 onbase percentage and has an OPS+ of 124 that puts him 24 percent above league average offensively. Donovan isn’t a power hitter, per se. But he does have 18 doubles, a triple, and five homers.
A few Donny-Ball Notables:
— Among MLB rookies that have at least 350 plate appearances this season, Donovan leads with his .390 OBP. His 124 OPS+ is fourth overall and second in the NL to Braves rookie Michael Harris.
— As a starter Donovan has a .397 OBP and .784 OPS.
— He’s done a superb job when batting 2nd in the lineup, posting a .317 average, .399 OBP, .439 slug and .838 OPS. Look at that slugging percentage from the No. 2 slot!
— Donovan’s defense is more than adequate. He’s underrated. How many dudes are capable of playing “plus” defense at three different positions — and playing average defense at two other positions? That’s what Donovan is doing. According to Fielding Bible, Donovan has seven defensive runs saved in 180 innings at third base, two runs saved in 144 innings in left field, and one defensive run saved in 143 innings in right field. He’s exactly average in defensive runs saved in 58 innings at first base, and 198 innings at second base. The only “negative” spot is shortstop, where Donovan is minus one in defensive runs saved in 56 innings. And being a minus one at your worst position is no big deal at all.
— Let’s see … that’s six different positions for the rookie … and if we add it all up, Brendan Donovan has saved nine runs with his defense. I think that’s pretty damn amazing.
— Donovan hits to all fields: 37 hits to left field, 35 to center, and 27 to right. Plus one bunt single. That’s a refreshing change from the pull-crazy tendencies in present-day MLB hitting.
— If Donovan’s .390 OBP holds up, it would be the seventh-highest onbase percentage by a Cardinals rookie in a season (minimum 400 plate appearances) during the Modern Era.
The top six ahead of Donovan:
George Watkins, .415 in 1930
Albert Pujols, .403 in 2001
Johnny Mize, .402 in 1936
Stan Musial, .397 in 1942
Ken Oberkfell, .396 in 1979
Solly Hemus, .395 in 1951
— This season Donovan has struck out only 15.5 percent of the time and has a walk rate of 12.7. Both are excellent rates.
— Donovan bats from the left side, but he doesn’t struggle against left-handed pitchers. He hasn’t done much slugging (.310) when facing lefties. But Donovan has a .276 average and .409 OBP against them.
— Donovan’s 3.5 WAR (baseball reference version) is fourth among St. Louis position players behind Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado and Tommy Edman.
Thanks for reading …
Enjoy the weekend …
For the last 35 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.
While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.
Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.