Perhaps no Cardinals player receives more scrutiny day in, day out for performances in small sample sizes than Tyler Greene. Greene has no shortage of detractors who have watched him struggle during his stretches at the major league level, and he has a dedicated group of fans who manage to find some reason for hope in nearly everything he does. These two factions uneasily co-exist at times within Cardinal Nation, and Twitter has become the vehicle of choice for delivering the social media equivalent of tiny paper cuts back and forth. Regardless of where your allegiance lies, I hope that you understand that it’s not easy being Tyler Greene.
The Tyler Greene story goes back to the 2005 amateur draft when the Cardinals used the team’s 2nd pick in the draft and 30th overall pick to select James Tyler Greene. Colby Rasmus went to the Cardinals just 2 spots ahead of Greene, and the expectations for this particular draft class were undoubtedly high. The organization touted Rasmus as the 5-tool CF they team had lacked for years, and Greene represented the shortstop of the future, complete with speed to burn, range, and the ability to hit for some power and a solid average.
Rasmus has produced 5.8 WAR since making it to the big leagues. Greene? Well, Greene has 0.5 WAR. Total. For perspective, that puts him well ahead of most players who were drafted in the first supplemental round which immediately followed his selection. Only Travis Buck (2.8 WAR), Luke Hochevar (0.6 WAR), Clay Buchholz (7.3 WAR), and Jed Lowrie (4.2 WAR) have higher WAR totals than Greene. Of the 29 players taken before Greene in that draft, 18 have produced more than Greene. At age 28, Greene sits about middle of the pack in terms of performance when compared to the rest of the first round draftees from his draft class. That should not be an issue, but the expectations for him were so high that a career line of .223/.307/.346/.653 just seems to fall short of what was expected.
In all fairness to Greene, he likely needs every day playing time to maximize his potential. Until he reached the majors in 2009, he had never spent a great deal of time as a part-time player or pinch hitter. As I have written previously, he was never put in the position to succeed under Tony La Russa. During his all-too-brief stints with the Cardinals, Greene has had at-bats in bunches and innings at different positions doled out sparingly. That simply will not show fans what Greene’s capabilities really are, and it would be a serious disservice to Greene and a great misfortune for Cardinal Nation, if Greene fails to receive the string of starts he requires to show what he can do.
That said, it seems worthwhile to take an unbiased look at the numbers he has produced this year. Granted, we’re talking about a really small sample size with a great deal of inherent error and unrealistic projections, but the analysis of Greene’s 2012 campaign must begin somewhere. Disclaimer: Some of Greene’s rankings on various leader boards requires that the minimum plate appearance value be dropped below 90, because Greene has yet to accumulate enough plate appearances to be deemed “qualified” for the leader boards.
- Among all 2B in MLB, Greene’s batting average of .241 places him 23rd.
- In that same group, Greene’s OBP of .302 ranks him 21st.
- He lands in a tie with Dustin Pedroia at 3rd on the slugging percentage leader board with a .470 which trails only Robinson Cano (.488) and Omar Infante (.568).
- Greene’s OPS of .778 places him 7th among all 2B.
- For players with 90 PA’s or more, Greene ranks 5th in wOBA at .346.
- Despite having by nearly the fewest at-bats of anyone in the top 15, Greene’s 4 home runs lands him in a tie for 10th among all 2B.
- In spite of being 1 of only 2 players below 100 at-bats in the top 20, Greene ranks in a tie for 18th with 11 RBI.
- Greene has a .400 OBP in day games and a .235 OBP at night.
- In high leverage situations, Greene has a batting line of .417/.462/.750/1.212.
- In “late and close” scenarios, Greene is hitting .308/.308/.692/1.000.
- With 2 outs and runners in scoring position, he has a line of .200/.333/.200/.533.
- When hitting 8th in the lineup, he is hitting .303/.378/.727/1.106.
- As a starter, Greene hits .240/.313/.493/.807, but as a substitute he hits .250/.250/.250/.500.
- Against LHP, Greene bats .283/.327/.609/.935
- Against RHP, Greene bats .189/.286/.297/.583
- Greene fell below the Mendoza line on April 19th when his average dropped to .192, and he fell below it again on May 13th when he dropped to .194. Since that time, he is hitting .381/.409/.762/1.171 to raise his average to .241 on the season.
- He is currently 6th in the Cardinals with 4 HR.
- He is currently 8th on the team with 11 RBI.
- He is tied for 2nd on the team with 5 stolen bases.
- He sits at 12th on the team in OPS.
- He is currently 13th among hitters on the team in WAR at 0.2 which puts him between Jaime Garcia (0.3) and Lance Lynn (0.1).
- Off 44 MLB 2B with 50 or more innings, he ranks 37th in UZR/150 at -20.1. Teammates Daniel Descalso (32nd) and Skip Schumaker (41st) also rank in the bottom 3rd as well.
No matter how you splice and frame the numbers, Greene appears to be a deficient fielder at 2B and in the midst of perhaps a career-altering hitting streak. At this point, finishing the season with a .250 average would have to be considered a significant step forward as long as the other numbers fall in line. The extra power he has displayed this season may or may not be a long term addition to his value. If you look at his at-bats this season, he appears to be improving as a fastball hitter, although he continues to be better at consistently putting the ball in play against finesse pitchers.
Based on the season he has put together to this point, Greene still shows a lot of potential, but he has basically thrived as the ideal platoon partner to Skip Schumaker who hits RH pitchers about as well as Greene hits lefties. If Matheny can convince Greene that he has no reason to constantly look over his shoulder, maybe he can continue to improve his game and maintain a higher level of play than he has in the past. That would be a welcome change to fans on both sides of the Greene debate, and it might make it a bit easier to be Tyler Greene.
TIDBIT: No matter who Matheny pencils into the lineup at 2B, the Cardinals are trotting out a sub-par defender at that position every single day. One might have a stronger arm, one might have more range, and one might be smoother at turning the double play, but they all have serious deficiencies in at least 1 category.
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