Since being taken by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1st round of the 2005 amateur draft, Tyler Greene has probably taken more bus trips than most London tour guides. Technically, he’s made about a dozen different stops (including repeats), and the former 30th overall pick has amassed a minor league career comprised of 550 games played with 2374 plate appearances. His career stats in the minors include a .264 average, .337 obp, .433 slugging percentage, 71 hr, and 125 stolen bases.
He managed to hang with the big club for 48 games in 2009, but he struggled to a line of .222/.270/.324/.593 in 116 plate appearances. It’s worth noting that he stuck with baseball, and the Cardinals stuck with him, too. The team kept him around and gave him another shot with at the major league level in 2010, and he again struggled and posted a line of .221/.328/.327/.655 in 122 plate appearances in 44 games. He’s basically been utilized as a utility infielder, but he spent most of his time in the minors playing SS, and he has yet to demonstrate superior defensive prowess at this or any other position. All this basically begs the question: What do they see in the guy?
I decided to start digging deep into the numbers to see if there is anything that stands out that might explain the continuation of the “Tyler Greene Project“. If there was something positive to or anything potentially positive, then I’ve laid it out for all to see below. No matter how small the sample size, I’ve included it to try and help support the project. (NOTE: Plate appearances are abbreviated “PAs”, because I’m just tired of typing “plate appearances”.)
- For starters, Greene hit .273/.377/.364/.741 with 1 hr and 6 rbi in 18 games (53 PAs) in day games.
- Against the Houston Astros, Greene hit .286/.412/.357/.769 in 6 games (17 PAs).
- Versus ground ball pitchers, Greene hit .321/.375/.429/.804 in 14 games/32 PAs.
- If his batted ball reached the outfield, Greene was a .429 hitter in 2010, and he was a .269 hitter by just putting the ball in play.
- Against pitchers classified as “finesse” pitchers, Greene posted a line of .286/.375/.381/.756 in 22 games / 48 PAs.
- When facing an opponent for the 1st time in game, he was a .125 hitter, but that improved to .333 the 2nd time around, and .357 the 3rd time around.
- He hit .364 in 1-0 counts (11 opportunities).
- He hit .429 in 0-1 counts (9 opportunities).
- He hit .500 in 1-1 counts (9 opportunities).
- Greene hit .286 when playing at 3B (15 PAs), but he only hit .226 as a 2B (35 PAs), .218 as a SS (64 PAs), and .000 as a pinch hitter (8 PAs).
I realize that these numbers don’t give you a lot to go on, and a huge part of evaluating a player is watching him practice and play on a daily basis. That said, it’s not too difficult to understand what the Cardinals see in Tyler Greene. It’s all about potential, and it’s about as of yet unlocked potential in his case. It’s clear that he needs to be a starter, but there is simply no place for him to play. In case of injury, he’s potentially a useful replacement for a week or two at a time. The change in batting average from the 1st to the 2nd to the 3rd time facing a pitcher shows that he adjusts to what he sees. He only gets that opportunity, if he’s in the starting lineup.
That said, he’s not a proven leadoff hitter at the highest level, even though he’s got the ability to steal bases. Either he needs to learn how to get on base and improve his average and OBP (.192) when batting 1st, or he needs to become a threat to steal from low in the order. He’s also a guy who hits well early in the count. That possibly makes him a good fit for that 9th slot, because getting someone on base with good speed ahead of the 1-2-3 hitters would be ideal.
If the Cardinals could limit Tyler Greene to playing in day games against finesse pitchers who tend to induce a lot of ground balls, that would be really nice. Since that’s probably not realistic, let’s just hope that they can put him in position to succeed as much as possible, and maybe a few favorable outcomes will have a positive snowball effect. This is quite possibly his last chance to prove himself with the Cardinals, and it would be great for both the team and Tyler to see the “Tyler Greene Project” finally hit it big.
TIDBIT: Greene hit leadoff in 6 games, and he was 0-6 as the first batter in the game. Overall, he hit .087 when batting in the #1 spot.
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