Thursday, June 7, 2012

What if Allen Craig Played a Full Season?

Allen Craig has been a hitting machine since joining the Cardinals in mid-2010. In only 424 plate appearances, Craig has hit .304 with 22 home runs and 82 RBIs. His career OBP is .355 and his slugging pct. is .548. The Cardinals haven't been able to find a fulltime position for Craig yet, but wherever they put him he hits. Craig has played all three outfield positions, first base, third base, and even second base since joining the Cardinals.

Part of the reason is because Craig has had to deal with some injuries. He fractured his kneecap in June of last year and missed a couple of months recovering from that. He was able to come back in late August of last year and was a big contributor in the Cardinals World Series run. Craig had to have offseason surgery on his knee and missed the first month of the season. Not long after Craig came off the DL this year, he hurt his hamstring. Despite the layoffs, Craig is off to a .366 start with 7 home runs and 24 RBIs in only 81 plate appearances. Amazingly, Craig is 5th on the team in home runs and 6th in RBIs in limited playing time.

Craig had two pinch hits in the first two games of the World Series that gave the Cardinals the lead. When Matt Holliday injured his hand in Game 6 of the World Series, Craig stepped in. In Game 7, Craig started in left field. Craig responded by hitting a home run, making a terrific catch to rob a home run away from Nelson Cruz, and he caught the final out of the World Series. Craig did all this with a broken knee cap as well.

Eventually, the Cardinals need to find a home for Allen Craig. Coming into the season, the Cardinals were set at every position. However, Jon Jay, Skip Schumaker, and Lance Berkman have all suffered injuries since. Carlos Beltran and David Freese will need time off as well, since both players have been injured in recent seasons. Berkman has said he's trying to come back in late July, but it might be sometime in August before he does. Matt Adams is most likely in the big leagues to stay, although Craig will get some time at first. It looks like Craig will mostly play the outfield. I would play him at third when Freese needs a day off as well. Craig has played second before, but its not an ideal position for him. Defensively, it would be better to have Tyler Greene or Daniel Descalso play there. But it might be considered at times because Craig's bat is too good to leave out of the lineup.

I would like to see what Craig could do in the big leagues if he got 500-600 at bats in a season. I think he could be a 30 home run, 100 RBI guy. Counting last year's postseason, Craig has hit 26 home runs and 90 RBIs in 471 big league plate appearances. If Craig can avoid injuries, he looks like a future All Star. I'm not sure what position that will be at, but his bat will find a everyday position someday with the Cardinals.

Coming up next: Lance Lynn Has Earned a Permanent Rotation Spot

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