By Joe Dattoli, from Cardsblog.com
Kolten Wong was once considered the franchise's long term 2B option or at least a solid prospect. Now, most people consider him as the player that should be good but isn't. But don't write him off just yet. With the Cardinal's drive to become more defensively sound, Wong could be seeing much more playing time this year.
A look back at 2016
Obviously, his 2016 campaign did not help his cause as he performed awfully by hitting only .240/.327/.355 in 361 ABs. His lack of production caused him to sporadically bounce in and out of lineups and even landed him in AAA for a while. Once he was brought back up, the greatest idea in the history of all ideas happened.
The Cardinals took a struggling infielder and put him in the outfield to see what would happen. Needless to say it was a short lived experiment as Wong only made one outfield start in the last 2 months of 2016.
Looking at Wong's situation more closely though, you will see that all the sporadic movement around the field and in and out of the lineup could have had a large impact on his production. Wong just happened to start the season in a bad way and could not find consistent playing time the rest of the season. Combined with trying to transition to the outfield mid-season, it can explain why his numbers never recovered.
The Cardinals bullpen last year wasn't awful, but it most certainly was not great. It ranked 13th in the MLB in fWAR, at 4.2, and 13th with its 3.62 ERA. Combined with questionable bullpen management skills, the Cardinals reliever corp combined to be "meh". Thankfully, Brett Cecil is pretty hard to misuse as a manager.
In my eyes, Wong has the tools to be an all-star caliber 2nd baseman. He easily has the defense going for him no questions asked. It goes along perfectly with the Cardinals aim to be better defensively. Offensively, he has good power potential. Wong has the ability to hit the ball out fairly decently given the right pitch and location (pull).
Also, he has plus speed which is capable of stealing 20+ bags provided he gets the opportunities. All in all, I believe Wong can be a guy who hits 20 home runs and steals 20 bases in the same season. Am I predicting it to happen? Not at all, everything has to go right for him to achieve that milestone. However, it is not beyond his capabilities.
The main thing that would have to go right is for Wong to start of 2017 hot. That way, Wong earns some of Matheny's trust and gains a little room to skid here and there without being pulled. Then he could play consistently all year and close in on 500 ABs. Another thing that must go right for him would be his health.
The apparent shoulder injury or ailment that he has is not fully healed yet. But, Wong insists that everything is "fine."
All things considered, Kolten Wong can become a very solid player if everything goes according to plan. This season, he may surprise everyone with a true breakout year. Nevertheless, Wong will be an exciting storyline throughout the 2017 season.
Spring Training has kicked into full gear and with it, hype has begun to swirl around players getting off to blazing starts. Most players around the league have played just enough to make a first impression in the dawn of the 2017 season and for the Cardinals faithful, few seemed to be as impactful as Randal Grichuk's.