The St. Louis Cardinals made a huge mistake in not signing a free agent hitter.
Debate Rounds (3)
If you account for WAR, we lost 6 games this year because of Heyward alone. These games are now added to Chicago. Therefore, they should win 103 games compared to 94 for STL in 2016.
We needed a prize free agent bat, or two, to recouperate those wins. Davis signed with Baltimore, Cespedes with NY and Upton with Detroit. The opportunity was missed and now the team will be lucky to make a wild card spot.
The Cardinals are in good hand already, they have a good young nucleus of hitters that includes Randal Grichuk, Steven Piscotty, and Tommy Pham. Each of these players are expected to have much improved production in 2016 compared to 2015.
The Cardinals also retain Matt Carpenter who is coming off of a career high 28 home runs and 84 rbis.  They have all star catcher Yadier Molina behind the plate as well. Kolten Wong is also a player who has a career high in batting average and in home runs as well. .
Also the free agent hitters market was very overpriced. Chris Davis signed for 7 years and 161 million, Cespedes signed for 3 years and 75 million, Heyward signed for 8 years and 184 million. When signing players to large contracts like that, the risk is ginormous. There's always the possibility of injuries and the possibility players don't live up to large contracts like those.
Heyward is also only a career .268 hitter and doesn't even average 68 rbis in his career, and the last 3 years has only averaged a grand total of 58.6 rbis per year. That doesn't sound like a player who is worth 23 million per year.
Chris Davis is also earning 23 million over the next 7 years, but again he comes with major risks. He is only a career .255 hitter and while he can possibly get over 100 rbis in a season, he also lead the league in strikeouts last year. He's a feast or famine hitter, and the possibility he doesn't live up to his contract is very large.
And finally, there is Yoenis Cespedes. He signed a 3 year 75 million dollar deal with the Mets. While he is certainly a talented player there are also serious risks. First, while Cespedes had career highs in home runs and rbis last season, Baseball Reference does not project the same for 2016. Cespedes is only expected to be a .265 hitter and experience solid drops in home runs and rbis from last season (26 home runs and 88 rbis) . Those do not sound like the numbers a hitter worth 25 million would put up.
While Molina is indeed 33, his statitics actually improved from 2014. He was healthier, and was still and all star and gold glove catcher. The same can be applied to Matt Holiday. He only played 73 games last year, but he still made his 1st all star game since 2012, and improved his batting average and rbis per game totals from 2014. Also, Grichuk and Piscotty will make up for whatever decline in numbers those 2 might have, since both are expected to have major increases in their stats.
My opponent also states that Matt Carpenter should stop trying to get home runs every at bat, but in fact he got more doubles than home runs. Home runs account for 18% of his hits; comepare that to a power hitter like Chris Davis whos home runs (47/150) account for 31% of hits. Baseball Reference projects that Carpenter's batting average will incrase from .272 to .279.  This refutes my opponent's argument that Carpenter needs to focus on getting more singles and doubles. He already gets more of each than home runs.
Jhonny Peralta also experienced an increase in offensive production. His batting average incrased from .263 to .275. He also got more hits and made the 2015 All Star game. Baseball Reference projects more of the same in 2016 .
Brandon Moss also is projected to have an incrased roll with the Cardinals next year. He is expected to incrase his rbi total from 58 to 68, and his home runs from 19 to 22. His batting average and doubles are also projected to increase, while his strikeouts are projected to decrease .
Having an experienced power bat in the middle of the lineup makes a large difference. Pitchers have a natural tendency to pitch around power hitters in fear of giving up a HR. They will generally throw more strikes to the hitter immediately before the power guy in hopes to get him out and not put him on base. A power hitter changes the complexion of the lineup for the better.
With the decline in HRs, the Cards offense has gone with it over the last couple years. It begins to make sense when you look at the players who have left: 2011 - Pujols 40 Hr/avg., 2012-13 - Beltran 25 Hr/avg., 2015 - Heyward 18 Hr/avg. This year, we have no one to replace Heyward. Basically, the 45 Hr/year average that Pujols put up is now gone.
The decline in offensive production isn't just evident with the Cardinals, it's happening all across Major League Baseball. Pitchers have improved each year, and especially in a league such as the NL where guys like Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Jake Arrieta reside, offense is tough to produce.
Also, Brandon Moss fits the description of a power guy completely. He's a feast or famine hitter who can produce solid year round stats. Also, he comes at a much cheaper price than Chris Davis or Pedro Alvarez.
Also, if the Cardinals have relied on pitching to make the playoffs, why should they change their philosophy? It's worked for the past 5 year, getting them to the World Series twice and winning it all in 2011. With a solid pitching staff and a lights out bullpen, their pitching should remain top notch.
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