St. Louis Cardinals: Is Kolten Wong in the middle of a resurgence?
Kolten Wong was once a top-tier prospect in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. He struggled in 2016, but has rebounded nicely to start the season. But the most important question is: how long it will last?
There are some players in the MLB that enjoy a breakout year or a promising rookie campaign and fall off the map quicker than a ship sailing through the Bermuda Triangle.
Kolten Wong is one of those players.
The St. Louis Cardinals infielder was slated to be part of the future, likely the starting second baseman after he worked his way to the big leagues. He had speed, some pop and while he would struggle maintaining his average, he would be serviceable.
Wong had a solid first season in 2014, finishing third in the Rookie of the Year race. His following season was arguably even better, as he compiled more doubles and RBIs, raised his average and drew more walks.
He had potential to be a 20-20 guy, a solid middle infielder. But Wong failed to improve in 2016 and lost a considerable amount of playing time thanks to the emergence of Aledmys Diaz and addition of Jedd Gyorko, which made the infield situation complicated.
Manager Mike Matheny moved Wong to the outfield to keep him in the lineup, but then manager lost confidence in him, as the 26 year old lost more than 200 at-bats in a year’s time.
Now, while the Cardinals have struggled to maintain a .500 record, Wong has reemerged to the scene, attempting to enter the everyday lineup picture once again. And thus far, he’s done a good job making himself semi-valuable once again for the Redbirds.
The left-handed hitter has done a little bit of everything, as he owns a .296 average and has stroked eight doubles and a bomb while also swiping three bags. One thing about Wong’s game that has gradually improved has been his discipline.
Look at how his strikeout-to-walk ratio has declined throughout his career.
2014: 71 strikeouts, 21 walks (3.38 K/BB ratio)
2015: 95 strikeouts, 36 walks (2.63 K/BB ratio)
2016: 52 strikeouts, 34 walks (1.53 K/BB ratio)
2017 (so far): 12 strikeouts, 11 walks (1.09 K/BB ratio)
There is probably no way he finishes the season with more walks than strikeouts, but it’s a nice addition to his repertoire.
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He’s shifted back and forth between whether he can hit right-handed pitchers or southpaws better, but this season he’s shown he can succeed against both – yes, he’s only had eight at-bats against left-handers this year, but it’s still better than usual.
One thing is for sure: if Wong hit at home against the Milwaukee Brewers, he’d probably hit .400 on the season with a slugging percentage north of Bryce Harper‘s. But unfortunately for him, there are other teams he must face.
Still, Wong could be in the middle of a resurgence, especially when considering he’s not chasing balls at the plate and making more contact.
He’s gained enough trust to be placed at the top of the order on Friday and Saturday.
— Jenifer Langosch (@LangoschMLB) May 6, 2017
Maybe he will live up to the expectations he had three years ago, like he did in the 2014 NLCS.
Then again, it’s only May.