MLB
June 24, 2012 posted by Chuck Anderson

Position Battles: St. Louis 2B

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Tyler Greene, 2B, St. Louis Cardinals

Tyler Greene and Daniel Descalso have split playing time extremely evenly this year.  Neither has enjoyed much offensive success, but since the Cardinals are the highest scoring team in the National League every regular has value in NL-only play.

In 32 games Greene is hitting .228/.286/.389.  He has four home runs and eight steals.  He received starts most consistently in May.  He hit well that month, posting a 121 wRC+.  There was some sleeper buzz around him, and writers penned glowing pieces such as “Greene Improving at Plate and in Field”.  His offense fell by the wayside in June, he only has a 38 wRC+ and a ghastly 0.07 BB/K.  Articles about him now ask the question “Should He Stay or Should He Go”?

The 2005 draftee teased high-level fantasy potential with strong Triple-A numbers.  In 2009 he had a .369 OBP with fifteen home runs and 31 stolen bases in 89 games.  Two years later, in only 66 games, he hit fourteen homers, stole nineteen bases and had a .422 OBP.  The issue is he was old for a prospect when he produced those stats.  28 now, there is not much room for growth on the traditional age curve.

His stat line shows strikeout rates consistently near 25%.  This season his plate discipline has deteriorated, he is offering at over half his pitches.  His contact rate is 71.7%, well under the major league average of 80.1%.  He continues to display good speed, with scores at or over 7.0, so if he can manage to get on base the steals should follow.  His career fly ball rate is 35.2%, and it is lower this year.  Unless he can start to loft the ball his Triple-A power will not translate.

Descalso has started sixteen games in June to Greene’s six, but his bat is not exactly on fire.  He is hitting .245/.327/.377 in 31 games.  He is having his own strikeout issues, the rate rising from 17.3% last year to 23.1%.  He is missing more pitches in the zone, his contact rate dropping roughly five percent.  He is more likely to cut down on his strikeouts than Greene, in the minors Descalso kept his K% between 9.0% and 13.1%.  Neither his power nor his speed stands out as a notable fantasy skill however.  His run production is low while he is rightfully mired at the bottom of the lineup.  Descalso is unlikely to show much more than he is currently.  There are no peripheral stats pointing to a breakout.  Greene has the higher ceiling, but is also more of a black hole on offense when he is running poorly.

 

2011 first round pick Kolten Wong could become part of the discussion sooner rather than later.  He is hitting .302/.367/.442 in Double-A and was selected for the upcoming Futures Game.  He is moving quickly through the farm system after playing three years of NCAA ball.  It would be an aggressive push, but he could see the majors by the fall.

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