St. Louis Cardinals begin their 2017 Spring Training tomorrow, February 14, as will many of the MLB teams. Catchers and pitchers to officially report in first, with field players to report by the end of the week. There will be one Cardinals position player, that if one has not read about, fans will be surprised to find out, 1B Matt "Big City" Adams, has gone through "transformation".
Matt Adams made his debut with the Cardinals, May 20, 2012. He was dubbed "Big City". (Photos: AP and Instagram)
Adams will come to spring training 30 pounds lighter, muscle-toned body ready to compete to regain his position, first base. He made his debut with the Cardinals in May of 2012. He began his major league career with a .500 BA out of the gate. But, as a rookie, saw that cut-in-half in his next four games. However, Adams came back strong, 3-4 AB, two doubles and added a run bringing his average up to a .318 and closed his rookie month at .317 BA. Through June, that average pummeled to a .178 monthly average, closing his short season with a .244 BA/2 HR/13 RBI. On the whole, typical for a rookie against major league pitchers.
"Big City" Adams excited Cardinals fans with his big bat in 2013. He closed the season with a 17 HR/51 RBI with a .284 BA; even with, sustaining a stressed elbow injury. When he returned from the DL, he sported an elbow support and seemingly was the secret for the remainder of the season. In September, he slugged out 8 of his 17 long balls, and 15 RBI for his monthly .315 BA. And, in his second season at first base, his fielding improved to a .997 Fldg% with only two errors in his 74 games played.
In 2014, he logged 142 game appearance, 133 games at first, 132 game starts with 124 complete games. By far his most "active" season since his debut in 2012. He closed the season at .288 BA/15 HR/68 RBI; however, injury hit him again in the course of the season. An oblique injury which kept him out for 13 games between May and June.
In 2015, not only did LF Matt Holliday sustain a quad injury which required surgery, so did the same injury bug hit Adams. He, too, had to have quad surgery at the end of May. With a timetable of three to four months before returning, a return by late season was in question for Adams. However, returned September 10, and had a pretty good comeback in his 24 AB/7 Hits for 1 HR/4 RBI/2-2B to close the month at .292 BA/.346 OBP/.500 SLG. Even with that said, and months on the DL, he closed the season with a .240 BA.
Prior to the 2016 season, Adams had made an effort of 'shedding pounds', but really not enough to take note. And, to add to Adams' demise as Cardinals every day first baseman, the #3 spot on the field was shared by Matt Holliday, Matt Carpenter; and, for the most part, by 1B/OF Brandon Moss. Moss was signed by the Cardinals at the trade-deadline in 2015. Coming back from his own hip surgery, he had 15 HR/50 RBI with his former team, the Cleveland Indians. However, he only produced four more homers and only added eight RBI.
In 2016, Adams experienced shoulderinflammation, nothing serious physically no surgery required, but enough that kept him off the bag as every day first baseman. He only had 69 game starts at first, logging 47 complete games.
Fans began to doubt Adams ability well before the 2016 season began. But, overall for last season, for most part coming off the bench, he did make 118 game appearances (601.2 innings played), 297 AB/74 Hits, produced 16 HR/54 RBI; but, only a .249 BA. Moss, on the 15 Day DL due to a sprained ankle the first part of July, still logged 413 AB/93 Hits. Produced 28 HR/67 RBI/19-2B/2-3B, but after his September (.084 BA), he closed his season with a .225 BA.
WHAT WILL THE FUTURE BRING FOR ADAMS
Now that Adams has dedicated his offseason to serious body building, how will this affect his offense production? Will he be able to remain 'healthy' in the upcoming season? And, will he be able to regain his every day first baseman status? Many fans thought he would be traded in the off-season. However, in my opinion, Adams has yet to prove himself as a "full season" player without injury in the interim before being trade bait. On the flipside, Matt Carpenter has been declared the Cardinals first baseman, at least to begin the upcoming season.
There has been much splash about Adams' new physique. What about his mechanics at the plate? In photos, his upper torso is detailed with broad - muscular arms and shoulders. By looking, should give him the power he needs at the plate. Has this new workout strengthened his arms to protect any elbow strain? From looking - I would say, yes. Will this improvement provide for a full season should he oust the current Cardinals chosen first baseman, Matt Carpenter? Maybe not to begin the season. However, I feel, great production will put Adams back on the field on a regular basis. Carpenter makes a great third baseman. Just sayin'.
Adams has already arrived at Roger Dean Stadium at Jupiter FL. Yes, working in the field. It's going to be interesting to see he performance during Spring Training. Only wish him the best; and, hopefully, this new 'physique' and attitude of determination benefits him and our Cardinals. "Never say never". Since Matt Carpenter is part of the World Baseball Classic, we probably won't see him until the latter part of March ~ dependent on how the USA team fares in the competition. I feel, "IF" Adams can regain first base, fans could very well see a season of 20 HR and upwards of 75 RBI. He signed a 1 Yr/$2.8 MM with the Cardinals foregoing an arbitration hearing in his second AE year. Of course, should he have a stellar season. To be able to prove his new and improved play, come 2018, his third and last AE season, will the Cardinals re-sign him to cover his 2019 free agency. Or, will he really be trade bait with a much larger FA pool in 2018. Time will tell and as the season goes, much speculation will surface. Another reason I love baseball ~ always, "What if".
There are actually eleven Cardinals to participate in the WBC - headed by catcher Yadier Molina and closer Seung Hwan Oh. The international first round will commence, March 6, in Seoul, South Korea. Therefore, we will have a few of our players making late appearances in March. But, I feel, before departing we will see them during the early days for the ST workouts.