Can the Cardinals Go on a Playoff Run Without David Freese Playing Superhero?
The Cardinals seem to be up to last year's script, keeping their fans in suspense as to whether or not they will make the postseason. As the next few weeks go with many Cardinal fans holding their collective breath, this question comes to my mind,
"Who will lead this year's team during a postseason run?"
David Freese took that mantle last season, winning the MVP award for the NLCS and the World Series, the first position player to do so in either league since fellow Cardinal Darryl Porter pulled off the achievement in 1982.
So to answer my own question, here is a list of three potential players who can wear the Superman cape during this year's postseason.
I'll be honest, I was a proponent of the Cardinals trading Jon Jay during spring training, as I didn't see a whole lot of upside with his lack of power and what appeared to be a full outfield with Matt Holliday, Allen Craig and Carlos Beltran.
Well as we all know, Lance Berkman hasn't seen much playing time this year due to injury and the vast majority of Craig's time has come at first base once he got off the DL.
So Jon Jay stepped up and proved he belongs as a starter at the Major League level.
Jay is currently batting .323 and has sparked the Cardinals lineup with a .398 on-base percentage. The guy has come up with a lot of key hits to put the Cardinals in a position to tie or go ahead. He is a cool customer in the box and doesn't get rattled hitting behind in the count.
With a 0-2 count, Jay is batting .381 and with 1-2 count he is hitting .306. Those are great attributes for a guy leading a lineup with a ton of RBI potential.
Adding to his maturity at the plate this season, Jay is playing center field like some of the Cardinal greats such as Willie McGee and Jim Edmonds. He has tremendous closing abilities on the ball and has kept the Cardinals in a number of games with his glove.
All that said, Jay could be the man to lead the Cardinals during a postseason run provided they get in first.
Yadi has responded in a big way when he put this year's squad on his back. No one ever questioned Molina's abilities behind the plate. Molina, throughout his career, has 44 pickoffs and the most by any catcher since 2004.
Coming into this season, however, Molina was a .274 career hitter. He showed a little bit of pop last season, belting 14 home runs and driving in 65 runs. So far this season, Molina has 18 home runs and 65 RBIs with 22 games still to play. In addition to his newly developed power, Yadi is batting .321 and has a sneaky 11 stolen bases.
Molina has hit some huge home runs this season where he has tied the game or put the Cardinals ahead. Also, he has been known to perform in the postseason with the bat.
Molina's intensity and ability to get his teammates fired up present him the opportunity to be the guy in October to lead the Cardinals to a deep postseason run.
Allen Craig can just plain hit. Now if the guy can stay healthy for a full season, Cardinal fans should expect a 30-home run, 100 RBI guy. If he had been healthy the entire 2012 campaign, he most likely would have hit those numbers.
Excusing the time Craig spent on the DL, Allen has put up some big numbers, hitting 20 home runs and driving in 75 runs in the 98 games he has played this season.
But the reason I think Craig could be a superhero in the postseason is his ability to hit with runners in scoring position. This season, Craig is batting .390 with runners in scoring position, driving in 59 runs in 100 at-bats.
That is what the postseason is all about—taking advantage of your opportunities. With Jon Jay, Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran hitting in front of him most nights, Craig will see plenty of opportunities to deliver.
Hopefully, he'll have the chance to deliver in October.
With the Cardinals holding a slim one-and-a-half game lead over the Dodgers for the final wild card spot, Allen just needs to keep doing what he has been doing to help get the Cardinals to the postseason and the rest will take care of itself.