With the St. Louis Cardinals stumbling down the stretch and the second wild card on the line, they have decided to leave top prospect Oscar Taveras off the major league roster. This comes when Carlos Beltran is looking like his Mets’ days and the club relying on players like Pete Kozma and Dan Descalso in regular roles.
Taveras came into the 2012 as a potential breakout player after a solid campaign in Lo-A ball. The Cardinals were aggressive and started the 19-year-old (he turned 20 mid-season) at Double A. Taveras responded well, leading the team in hitting and homers. Taveras also received his 3rd championship in as many seasons (Texas League with Springfield this year, Midwest League last year, and Appalachian League before that). Taveras played in the futures game this year and was named Baseball America’s Double A player of the year.
I took a look at Taveras’s MLE (Minor League Equivalency from the calculator at ML Splits) to see how his stats would have translated to the majors this season:
|MLB||St. Louis Cardinals||491||56||124||28||5||16||63||29||62||.253||.298||.424||.722||8||1||2|
It should be noted that Springfield is an extreme hitters park and Busch Stadium tends to favor pitchers; this is taken into account, along with league tendencies, to calculate the numbers.
His numbers look as it he’d be slightly over matched, which would be expected due to his age. But what about since August 1st? How does he compare to Cardinal players that saw time at Center, Right, and First Base?
(Why these positions? Taveras projects to be a below average center fielder or average right fielder. The Cardinals use Allen Craig at right field when he isn’t playing at first. Using the 3 positions gives a better combination of what they could do).
These are the stats from the above players playing the 3 positions; for example, Matt Carpenter logged time at second and third and the numbers from those games were not included. Same for pinch hit appearances, unless the hitter stayed in the game at one of these positions.
You notice that Beltran’s numbers are horrible, but they are slightly better than what Taveras could provide. I would say that Taveras would not be able to overtake a starting job; Craig and Jon Jay have played very well since the beginning of August. If you look at ERP (estimated runs produced), the MLE Taveras is only about 5 runs behind Beltran.
The idea of adding him to the roster is intriguing as a bench player. If you took the MLE Taveras and reduced his numbers to the average of the guys above, it’s clear that Taveras is a better player. Over 12 at bats (the average), Taveras would have a ERP of 3.01. Carpenter’s is higher, but he’s been used more than any of the other players. If Carpenter were in the same situation (12 at bat average), his ERP is 1.23.
He’s essentially be worth Adron Chambers or Shane Robinson; the difference is he’s got a different skill set. Chambers and Robinson lack pop; Taveras has it. Matt Carpenter is slightly better than that level.
The key to remember though is 12 at bats is a very small sample size. It would be hard to truly gage how they would play over 12 at bats.
The main reason we aren’t seeing Taveras, in my opinion, is the service clock. He’s not going to crack the team next year and they are waiting for Carlos Beltran’s contract to expire before they give him the everyday job. He’s good enough to be promoted now – look at Jurickson Profar, Mike Olt, and Manny Machado – but it’s rare that you see teams allowing prospects to start their service clock if they aren’t playing everyday.