Jordan Walker: As you’ve undoubtedly learned by now, the sensational rookie nudged Hall of Famer Ted Williams aside and into second place in career-opening hitting streaks for players 20 years old or younger. Walker extended his streak to 10 games with a single in the seventh inning Monday at Coors Field. The all-time MLB record for career-opening hitting streak by a player under 21 years old belongs to Eddie Murphy. The rookie had a 12-game streak at the beginning of the 2012 season and went on to bat .317. Murphy, like Walker, played right field. Walker now owns the St. Louis franchise record for the longest hitting streak by an under-21 player at the start of a career. Williams, Murphy and Walker are the only MLB players to hit-streak nine games or longer since 1900. Amazing.

Jordan Walker II: Walker is off to a wonderful start, and a high ground-ball rate hasn’t slowed him much. Walker has hit 60 percent of his batted balls in play on the ground this season. Normally, that would deaden a batting average – but not so much with Walker … at least so far, anyway. Through 10 games he’s gotten seven hits on his 19 grounders and had a .368 batting average in his ground game. The RH-hitting Walker doesn’t hit to the opposite field very much, but he’s batting .429 when he hits to left, and a .545 average when he hits to center.

Jordan Walker III: One of Walker’s weaknesses – supposedly – was a lack of speed. Not true. Forget about that. The big guy motors very well. Walker is in the 86th percentile with a sprint speed of 28.3 feet per second. That’s the best among the Cardinals, with Tyler O’Neill and Tommy Edman next with a sprint speed of 27.8 feet per second.

Dylan Carlson, make your move: The third-year center fielder has only 24 plate appearances through 10 games, spending more time on the bench as the Cardinals experiment with Tyler O’Neill playing center. (Hint: it ain’t going well.) But in limited action, Carlson has shown some positive early trends. He’s in the 89th percentile in hard-hit rate (53%), has a very good chase rate and whiff rate. With his contact quality, Carlson has an expected batting average of .345 and an expected slugging percentage of .534. This is all good stuff that bodes well for Carlson going forward.

Carlson’s center-field defense: Early … but impressive. Carlson is in the 95th percentile defensively in Outs Above Average, which is close to being the best you can be defensively at a position. His success rate added is 13 percent, the best by an MLB center fielder so far. Carlson has exceeded his estimated success rate in center by 13%, and that’s a big number. (A small-sample number, yes.) Using the same metric, O’Neill is a disappointing five percent below average in success rate added. That’s a big difference between Carlson and O’Neill and Carlson clearly is the superior center fielder.

Since the start of last season, Carlson has seven defensive runs saved, which ranks 9th among center fielders. But that’s also terribly misleading, simply because Carlson has played only 555 innings in center during the last two seasons. And 29 players have played more innings in center than Carlson over that time. Carlson twisted his neck while diving to make a catch in shallow center Monday night and came out of the game. At the time of this writing, there’s no word about Carlson’s status for Tuesday night’s game.

Don’t forget about Big Burly: Corner outfielder Alec Burleson made his first start of the season in the Cardinals’ second game against the Blue Jays. He went 0 for 4. But since then Burleson has put together a six-game hitting streak in which he’s batted .364 with a .417 onbase percentage and .727 slug. He’s also mixed in two walks, driven in three runs, and scored four. Five of his eight hits during the six-game streak have gone for extra bases: three doubles, a triple and a homer.

I’ve heard and read some people suggest that Burleson will be sent down when the Cardinals activate outfielder Lars Nootbaar from the Injured List. What? Are you nuts? When Oli Marmol and the Cardinals talk about the quality of Burleson’s at-bats, they aren’t exaggerating. Here’s what I’m referring to:

– Burleson is in the 90th percentile among MLB hitters with a hard-hit rate of 54.5 percent. For the Cardinals, only Paul Goldschmidt and Jordan Walker have a higher hard-hit rate than Burly.

Burleson’s 50 percent “sweet spot” contact leads all Cardinals.

Burleson’s average exit velocity (92.4 mph) is second to Goldschmidt among Cardinals.

Twelve of Burleson’s 22 “batted ball events” have left the bat at 95.5 mph or higher.

All of that excellent contact – and an impressively low 13.8% strikeout to go with it.

Burleson’s 161 OPS+ puts him 61 percent above league average offensively. Among Cardinals, only Nolan Gorman (191 OPS+) and Goldschmidt (174 OPS+) have done better. Yes … Burleson has a higher OPS+ than his fellow rookie Jordan Walker.

And some of y’all want to see him sent down to Memphis because the big feller isn’t graceful or stylish when playing defense? That’s cute. Burleson has cost the Cardinals one run defensively so far. Other prominent Redbirds – Walker, O’Neill and Brendan Donovan – have cost the team more runs defensively than Burleson has.

Steven Matz: The Rockies got to him for six earned runs in 5.1 innings. The Rox sent 26 batters to the plate and 11 reached via nine hits and two walks for a 431 onbase percentage against Matz. After his first two starts of the season, Matz has a 8.18 ERA. He’s allowing an average of 15.5 hits per nine innings. As a Cardinal, Matz has a 5.80 ERA in 59 innings. He has to do better than this.

Bottom’s up: In defeating the Cardinals 7-4 on Monday, Colorado’s 6-7-8-9 hitters went 8 for 16 (.500) with three doubles and five RBI.

Encouraging early trend: The team has struggled to score of late, plating 18 runs in the last 67 innings. But that will change, and the scoring will go up. I say that because the Cardinals are hitting the ball hard … damn hard. Last season the Redbirds ranked 17th in the majors with a hard-hit rate of 37.4 percent. Through their first 10 games this year the Cardinals are fourth in the majors with a 45.6% hard-hit rate. Only the Dodgers have more hard-hit balls (135) than the Cardinals (125.) A hard-hit ball is one that leaves the bat at 95 mph or higher.

Exit velocity, up: The Cardinals rank sixth in the majors with an average exit velocity of 90.2 percent – up from their 88.2 percent rate last season. With the improved exit velo and hard-hit rate, the Cardinals have an expected slugging percentage of .444. Their actual slugging percentage is .414. These are good indicators, but the Cardinals have to be more effective at driving in runs.

Nolan Gorman: The second-year Cardinal has been overshadowed by rookie Jordan Walker. But we shouldn’t overlook Gorman’s positive start to his age-23 season. He’s batting .308 and has as nearly as many walks (7) as strikeouts. Gorman has reached base in 45.5 percent of his plate appearances and is slugging .615. If we use OPS+ as a measure, Gorman is 91 percent above league average through 10 games.

Willson Contreras: He hasn’t hit much so far – .226 average, .258 slug, .508 OPS – but give it some time. Contreras is an asset with his powerful right arm and has thrown out four of six runners that tried to steal on him. That 67% caught-stealing rate is third best among MLB catchers that have caught at least 60 innings this season. For perspective, the overall MLB caught-stealing rate was 18% through Monday.

In Case You Missed It: I wrote a column earlier today, offering 10 reasons why the Cardinals are off to a slow start through their first 10 games.

That’s all I have for you today.

Thanks for reading …


Bernie invites you to listen to his sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS-AM. It airs Monday through Thursday from 3-6 p.m. and Friday from 4-6 p.m. You can listen by streaming online or by downloading the show podcast at or the 590 app.

Follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz

Listen to the “Seeing Red” podcast on the Cardinals, featuring Will Leitch and Miklasz. It’s available on your preferred podcast platform. Or follow @seeingredpod on Twitter for a direct link.

All stats used in this column were sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, Stathead, Baseball Savant and Bill James Online.


Bernie Miklasz

Bernie Miklasz

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.