St. Louis Cardinals: Stephen Piscotty is Ranked #10 by MLB Network

The St. Louis Cardinals’ right fielder, Stephen Piscotty, made changes to his approach at the plate and in the field prior to the start of the 2015 campaign. These changes earned him a top-ten ranking of right fielders by MLB Network and will yield dividends in 2017.

Great ball players make adjustments to their game as their careers progress. This was definitely the case for Stephen Piscotty, the St. Louis Cardinals right fielder, between the 2014 and 2015 seasons. While changes were witnessed in 2015 and 2016, I predict that even greater things lay in store for 2017.

Piscotty is a great player. We St. Louis Cardinals fans know this all too well. Now, thanks to MLB Network, the world is getting to know it too.

MLB Network released their list of top right fielders on Sunday and the St. Louis Cardinals right fielder found himself breaking the top ten! Was this due to his efforts before the 2015 campaign? It can certainly be argued.

So who bested him? Who is he in company with? Let’s take a look:

10. Stephen Piscotty, St. Louis Cardinals

Piscotty’s 2016 campaign was his first full season in right field in the majors. He posted a slash line of .273/.343/.457. The St. Louis Cardinals benefited greatly by having him in the lineup thanks to his twenty-two home runs. More on him after the jump of names.

9. Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies

Gonzalez is a great player and is even a name that has been linked to the St. Louis Cardinals several times as a trade target. In 2016, Cargo posted a slash line of .298/.350/.505. Notice any similarity to Piscotty? I certainly do and feel that we just might see these same numbers from Piscotty in 2017.

8. J.D. Martinez, Detroit Tigers

Martinez, as admitted by MLB Network, is a better DH than right fielder. That said, however, he posted a .307/.373/.535 in 2016. Impressed much? I know I sure am.

7. Nelson Cruz, Seattle Mariners

I am very partial to Cruz. I have liked him as a player since he broke into the majors in 2005. I love his athleticism and his pop. In 2016 he posted a slash line of .287/.360/.555 which pushed him beyond those numbers exhibited by J.D. Martinez. In addition, Cruz is more of a natural RF than is Martinez. To this point, Cruz earned a -2.0 UZR while Martinez earned a -17.2 UZR (Piscotty earned a 3.3 UZR but I’m not angry about this…).

6. Hunter Pence, San Francisco Giants

Look, let me be frank here: I have never liked Pence. I just think he is silly and ridiculous. That aside, I cannot ignore his impressive numbers. In 2016, Pence posted a slash line of .289/.357/.451. When I look at these numbers, while I am impressed, I’m a little confused on how he bested Martinez and Cruz (let alone Piscotty).

5. Gregory Polanco, Pittsburgh Pirates

Polanco was supposed to bring energy and promise back to the Pirates. These things have, in fact, happened. In addition, this young gun has improved his numbers each year for the past three seasons. He broke into the majors in 2014 and posted a BA of .235, which he then improved to .256 in 2015, and finally resting last season at .258. His total slash for 2016 was .258/.323/.463.

Side note: Piscotty’s slash of 2016 bested these of Polanco so I’m a little confused on how Polanco is five slots higher than Piscotty. Looking at UZR, remember that Piscotty owned a 3.3 UZR in 2016, Polanco ended with a 5.9 UZR so there it is…

4. Kole Calhoun, Los Angeles Angels

I’m not terribly familiar with Calhoun. That said, I find myself filled with chagrin of Calhoun’s greater placement just as I argued against Polanco’s finish. Calhoun posted a slash line in 2016 of .271/.348/.438 with all three of these being bettered by Piscotty save the OBP. How about UZR you ask? Calhoun earned a 6.9 UZR… so there it is…

3. Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins

Do I even need to write anything here? I have no argument with Giancarlo’s place on this list save to perhaps argue that he might have landed higher. Let me share with you his incredible numbers from 2016: .240/.326/.489.

WAIT?! WHAT? This might be your reaction but let me assuage these feelings by sharing with you that MLB Network awarded this outstanding player his third place rank thanks in large part (as admitted by MLB Network) to his “raw power” (MLB Network). In 2016, he belted twenty-seven home runs.

2. Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals

Like Stanton above, need I write anything? These are his numbers from 2016: .243/.373/.441. WHAT? Weren’t Piscotty’s numbers better than these? All but OBP, yes. That said, Piscotty belted his twenty-two home runs while Harper amassed twenty-four. In terms of UZR, Harper is noted as an 8.7 UZR player, so, again, there it is…

1. Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox

I have to admit that I was a little shocked that Betts bested Harper and Stanton. Don’t get me wrong; I like Betts but I just don’t see him as number one over the two previous.  In 2016, Betts posted a .318/.363/.534 with thirty-one home runs. I question no more.

Moving back to Piscotty then, let me tell you St. Louis Cardinals fans that I completely believe that Piscotty will receive a higher ranking after 2017.

Why do I say that? I believe, as I teased at the top, that the changes he made to his batting approach before the 2015 season and the changes he made to his arm and throwing approach before the 2016 season will make him an even better player in 2017. Some changes often take a few seasons to settle-in for a player and I believe this to be true for Piscotty.

In addition, with the absence of Matt Holliday, Piscotty is likely slotted in as the number-four hitter in the Cardinals lineup. This will force Piscotty to approach the plate with much more urgency and with opportunities to show power. Moreover, the addition of Dexter Fowler as lead-off, Aledmys Diaz in the number-two hole, and Matt Carpenter ahead of him should allow Piscotty ample opportunity to amass RBIs in 2017.

What say you? Do you believe that Piscotty should have received a higher ranking? Are you pleased enough to have Cardinals representation in this list?

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