Let’s talk about Andrew Knizner. The Cards No. 2 catcher is having a career year offensively. Now, perhaps you will say that this is no big deal because he hasn’t hit much since the Cardinals promoted him to the big leagues in 2019.

And that’s largely true because Knizner was 32 percent below league average offensively (per wRC+) from 2019 through 2022. During the four seasons he slugged a miserable .288 and hit seven home runs in 490 at-bats. That’s a pitiful average of one homer every 70 at-bats.

The skimpy numbers are also the reason why we can say, without hesitation, Knizner is having his best MLB season in 2023. Sure, he strikes out too much. And Kiz has a .275 OBP and is hardly an onbase machine.

But in addition to his career-tops .255 batting average, Knizner has powered up in a large way this season. And it’s quite impressive. He has a .483 slugging percentage. He’s launched nine homers in 145 at-bats for a fantastic average of bombing a homer every 16 at-bats. Those nine homers are two more than he had in his previous four seasons combined. And his 26 RBI already represent his career high.

Knizner’s 104 wRC+ this season is four percent above league average and the highest of his career. Until 2023, Knizner had never been better than 21 percent BELOW average offensively in a season.

What’s up with this?

Kiz is airing it out. In his first four seasons he had a 49.7 percent ground-ball rate. This season his grounder rate has dropped to 37.4%. He’s launching pitches. Driving pitches. Taking it to the sky. His fly-ball rate (34.6%) is easily the highest of his career.

Kiz is definitely hitting the ball harder. In 2022 his hard-hit rate was on the weak side – only 33.2 percent. But that’s jumped to a 40% hard-hit rate in 2023.

Kiz has significantly reduced his soft-contact frequency by barreling more pitches. The difference is dramatic: in his first four seasons, Knizner had a barrel rate of 3.76 percent. That’s bad. But in 2023, his barrel rate is a robust 10.3 percent.

His improved pitch recognition is a factor in his power game. Against fastballs he has four homers and a .533 slugging percentage. Against breaking balls he has three homers and a .438 slug. Against the offspeed stuff he’s homered twice and is slugging .429.

You can see the “new” Knizner just by looking at his Isolated Power number. Isolated Power (ISO) measures a hitter’s raw power. The formula is slugging percentage minus batting average. Over his first four seasons Knizner had an average ISO of .084. In a word? Dreadful. But this season Knizner has jacked his ISO to .228. That ranks ninth among MLB catchers that have at least 150 plate appearances. Using ISO as a gauge, Knizner has delivered more raw power this season than a list of fellow catchers that includes Adley Rutschman, Will Smith, J.T. Realmuto, Cal Raleigh, Willson Contreras, William Contreras and Salvador Perez.

Knizner had a quiet start to the season but has been blasting away since mid-May. In 91 plate appearances since May 14, Kiz has eight homers, 22 RBI, a .292 average, and a loud .584 slug. Per wRC+, he’s been 40 percent above league average offensively over that time.

Thursday night at Tampa Bay, Knizner’s two-run homer in the fourth ended a scoreless game and staked the Cardinals to a 2-0 lead for young starting pitcher Matthew Liberatore. It was another big blow for Knizner.

(If you want to read about Liberatore, I wrote this earlier on Friday.)

Defensively Knizner has been slightly better than Willson Contreras at pitch-framing – just a one-run difference. But he is more adept than Contreras at blocking pitches – with one block above average compared to Contreras’ minus 3 blocks below average. That said, Contreras has a huge edge over Knizner in stopping the running game. Contreras has a caught-stealing rate of 29 percent, one of the best in the league. Knizner is at 8%.

But the Cardinals don’t really lose anything when Knizner is behind the plate. In fact, the Redbirds are 21-20 this season when Knizner starts at catcher.

The Cardinals are loaded with catching. There’s Contreras who will have four years remaining on his contract beginning in 2024. There’s highly regarded prospect Ivan Herrera, who has impressed during his brief time with the Cardinals this year. And there are two other notable catching prospects in Leonardo Bernal and Jimmy Crooks.

Don’t forget about Knizner. But I don’t think he’ll allow that to happen.

ACCOUNTING DEPARTMENT: The Cardinals (51-65) moved ahead of the Nationals and are ranked 13th in the NL with a .440 winning percentage … After winning the series by taking two of three games at Tampa Bay, the Cardinals oddly are 9-3 this season against AL East teams. The Cards haven’t played the first-place AL East Orioles; that will change with a three-game series at Baltimore which begins Sept. 11 …

BETTER PITCHING: In their 16 games since July 24, Cardinals starting pitchers have a 3.81 ERA that ranks tied for 10th best in the majors, and only three NL teams have a lower ERA over that time. Their team ERA since July 24 is 4.18, which ranks 12th in the majors during the span. The last 12 games are particularly notable; the Cardinals allowed four runs or fewer in nine of the 12 and have a 3.36 team ERA since July 28.

TOOT FOR NOOT: After having his continuity disrupted by two injuries earlier this season, Cardinals outfielder Lars Nootbaar is rolling now. Since recovering from a back ailment and returning from the IL on June 19, Nootbaar is hitting .293 with a .376 OBP and .516 slug. And in 66 plate appearances batting leadoff since then, Nootbaar has an outstanding .394 OBP and .774 slug for a 1.168 OPS.

Nootbaar sets up runs by hitting for average and drawing walks at a high rate. He’s an opportunistic baserunner. He hits for power and drives in runs. And he’s a nuisance to pitchers, wearing them down by grinding out extended at-bats. According to Bill James Online, Nootbaar has 171 “long” at-bats this season, stretching out plate appearances for four pitches or more. And Noot has 20 at-bats that have lasted at least seven pitches. Pitchers already are dealing with the pitch clock this season, and lengthy at-bats drains more of their energy.

Nootbaar ranks among the top 20 MLB outfielders with his five defensive runs saved. He’s a plus defender in left field (+1), center (+2) and right (+2.) He’s also one of the best Cardinals at taking extra bases as a runner. Nootbaar’s game is pretty complete.

In 636 plate appearances since the start of July in 2022, Nootbaar has 30 doubles, four triples, 14 homers, 70 RBI, 100 runs scored and a 15% walk rate. Add in a .376 OBP and .476 slug. Add in 11 steals in 13 attempts. Nootbaar is 40 percent above league average offensively over that time.

FUN STAT OF THE DAY: The Cardinals are 8-6 this season when utility infielder Taylor Motter starts a game.

SINCE THE ALL-STAR BREAK: Let’s take a look at the trends of individual hitters since July 14, when play resumed after MLB’s midsummer timeout:

Cold: Dylan Carlson, .151 average and 30 percent below league average offensively per wRC+

Hot: Nootbaar, .330 average, .1052 OPS and 85 percent above league average offensively in wRC+. He’s tied for the team lead with seven homers, has 12 RBI and has scored a team-high 19 runs since the break.

Cold: Jordan Walker, .210 average, .321 slug and 40% below league average offensively per wRC+

Hot: Nolan Gorman, .618 slug, .976 OPS, four doubles, seven homers, a 15 RBI and a wRC+ that puts him 63 percent above league average offensively.

Chilly: Paul Goldschmidt, .238 average, .356 slug and nine percent below league average offensively via wRC+. But he’s driven in 13 runs since the break.

Hot:  Knizner, .343 average, .1.029 OPS and is 79 percent above league average offensively per wRC+

Temperature rising: Nolan Arenado, five homers, a team-leading 19 RBI, a .484 slug and is 18 percent above league average offensively per wRC+. He’s batting .333 with a .546 slug in August.

Hot: Alec Burleson, .328 average, .574 slug, .923 OPS and 51 percent above league average offensively per wRC+

Hot: Willson Contreras, .315 average, .481 slug, .878 OPS and 44 percent above league average offensively in wRC+.

Hot and hobbled: Tyler O’Neill, .491 slug, .855 OPS and is 36 percent above league average offensively via wRC+. But the Bro is 0 for 8 with three strikeouts in his last two games and missed two games at Tampa Bay with “knee tightness.”

Warming: Tommy Edman is slugging .455 and is 17 percent above league average offensively (wRC+)

PROSPECTING: MLB Pipeline issued an updated 100 Top Prospects list, and only two Cardinal are on it: shortstop Masyn Winn at No. 32, and starting pitcher Tink Hence at No. 45. Among NL Central teams, the Cardinals have the fewest number of Top 100 prospects behind the Pirates (6), Cubs (5), Reds (5) and Brewers (5).

In its revised Top 30 prospect rankings for each team, MLB Pipeline’s new top 10 for St. Louis consists of Winn, Hence, outfielder Chase Davis, outfielder Victor Scott, starting pitcher Tekoah Roby, pitcher Jimmy Graceffo, pitcher Cooper Hjerpe, pitcher Sem Robberse, infielder Thomas Saggese and catcher Leonardo Bernal.

In its revised rankings for St. Louis, MLB Pipeline had six youngsters acquired at the trade deadline listed among the team’s 20 prospects: Roby (5) Robberse (8), Saggese (9), infielder Cesar Prieto (14), pitcher Adam Kloffenstein(17), and pitcher Zack Showalter (20.)

LOOKING FORWARD: To Adam Wainwright notching career victory No. 199 at Kansas City on Friday night. Positive vibes, people. Get him some runs, Cardinals.

Thanks for reading and pardon my typos….

Enjoy your weekend …


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

Please follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz

The “Seeing Red” podcast on the Cardinals, featuring Will Leitch and B. Miklasz is available at, the 590 the fan app or your preferred podcast platform. Follow @seeingredpod on Twitter for a direct link.

All stats used in my baseball columns are sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, Baseball Savant, Fielding Bible, Baseball Prospectus or 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.