THE REDBIRD REVIEW
It’s time for another round of my St. Louis outfielder rankings. In advance let me say this: as a group, the outfielders are slumping. Since April 13 the outfield contingent is batting .208 with a .325 slug, and this made it more difficult for me to separate the candidates.
Going into the weekend, St. Louis outfielders ranked 4th among NL outfield groups in batting average (.267) and 6th in OPS (.763.)
I expect we’ll see this group improve.
1. Lars Nootbaar: Since returning from the IL, he has eight walks with a .588 onbase percentage and .556 slug. Small sample, yes. But this is a continuation of his final three months of last season. Since July 1 of 2022, Nootbaar has a .389 OBO and .504 slug and is 52% percent above league average offensively per wRC+.
2. Alec Burleson: The big rookie’s numbers have gone down, but that’s the nature of baseball, and we know this guy is a natural-born hitter. In his last nine games Burly is hitting .200 with a .250 onbase percentage, but he’s still doing damage with his power. The downturn has dropped his season batting average to .250, but Burleson is still 14% above league average offensively per OPS+ – which ranks second to Nootbaar among Cardinal outfielders. Burleson has a good hard-hit rate of 47.7%, which will lead to more hits. He’s played average defense in the corner outfield spots which is hardly a liability.
3. Tyler O’Neill: The strikeouts are a problem. I’d like to see him hit more home runs and drive in more runs; he has only two homers and four RBIs in 58 at-bats this season. The low RBI count makes sense because O’Neill is 1 for 13 with runners in scoring position. In his last 10 games O’Neill has a .313 average, .500 slug and four extra-base. But his strikeout rate over the last 10 games is 40%. Despite his swing-and-miss problem O’Neill is 11 percent above league average per OPS+, and so far that’s an improvement from last season. He’s slightly above average defensively in left field, and slightly below average in center field.
4. Jordan Walker: Even with a two-hit day on Wednesday, the heralded rookie has batted .194 over his last 10 games with no extra-base hits and a 29% strikeout rate. His chase rate – swinging at pitches out of the strike zone – is 41%. His 93 OPS+ puts him seven percent below league average offensively. These things happen to a rookie hitter. But Walker had done a good job with runners in scoring position, batting .353 with six RBI in 17 at-bats. Walker ranks 36th among MLB right fielders with minus 5 defensive runs saved. He’s 20. He jumped from Double A baseball to the majors. Walker will improve, and his best is yet to come.
5. Dylan Carlson: in 41 plate appearances Carlson is 30% below league average offensively per wRC+ – and is even worse (45% below avg.) Against right-handed pitchers. Going back to early August of last season, Carlson has one homer in 195 plate appearances with a .212 average and .306 slug. He’s very good defensively, ranking 5th among center fielders in runs saved over last season. But as a left-handed hitter, Carlson’s offense continues to collapse.
6. Juan Yepez: he batted .333 with a homer in 12 at-bats as an injury replacement for Nootbaar, then was sent back to Triple A Memphis when Noot returned. Yepez remains on standby, to fill in as needed at DH, left field or first base.
I’ll be back later this afternoon with a variety of Bird Bytes.
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 590thefan.com or the 590 app.
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All stats used in my baseball columns are sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, Baseball Savant, Bill James Online and Baseball Prospectus.
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.