Although I don’t understand it, St. Louis Cardinals fans seem intent on trading away (or worse, just flat out demoting) one of our most impressive young outfielders. Cardinal Nation – for reasons that are beyond me – seem ready to dismiss Skip Schumaker. While a trade involving our clutch-hitting lead-off man may in fact materialize before the end of the season, I thought it appropriate to devote at least this humble post to pointing out Skip’s value to the 2008 lineup. Because a team can, of course, only start 3 outfielders, I thought it best to only list the statistics that list in the top 3 among Cardinals outfielders in the graphic above (highlighted entries indicate a tie for position). Let’s review…
Considering the fact that one of the Cardinals’ primary issues this season relates to runners left on base, Skip’s performance among Cardinal outfielders is impressive. He’s hitting .295 with runners on base and .303 with runners in scoring position – both numbers are ranked first among Cardinal outfielders. Add to that the fact that he is also leading the outfielding corp in runs scored (30), and you begin to see Skip as a key factor in our offensive production thus far.
His overall batting average is hovering in second (out of 5) at .286; he is tied for second in both doubles (9) and triples (1); and despite being the team’s lead-off hitter, he is ranked third (among outfielders) in RBIs, Total Bases, and Slugging Percentage. All of these numbers not only justify Skip’s place in the starting outfield, but also demonstrate his wide-ranging list of contributions. But where Skip’s true value is realized is in clutch and late-inning situations (see the graphic below – highlighted entries indicate a rank of FIRST in the given category).
Despite having the most at-bats among Cardinal outfielders, Skip still posts the highest batting average (.385) in late-inning/pressure situations. In the other three categories posted above, Skip still ranks among the top 3 of 5 Cardinal outfielders.
Just a quick note: I’ve often heard Skip compared to Brian Barton in discussions regarding who the Cardinals should keep. While I agree that Barton’s performance will improve given time and more consistent at-bats, I find it interesting to note that Skip ranks 4th in strikeouts among all five Cardinal outfielders with 19 Ks in 161 at-bats. Barton has 15 strikeouts in just 62 at-bats.
Look…no one is saying Skip Schumaker is the greatest Cardinal outfielder since Jim Edmonds, but let’s not forget how much he means to this team. Will he get traded? Maybe…in fact, with Rasmus in the wings it could even be upgraded to “likely.” But let’s not be so hasty in dismissing one our most valuable assets.
See? That wasn’t so bad, was it? And I did it all without even mentioning all of Skip’s game-winning hits..Okay, that’s enough for now…late game against the friars tonight…hate those late games…keeps me up all night.