(KSDK Sports) -- Allen Craig is having the best first half of his career, and people have taken notice. Over the weekend, Craig was selected to his first career All Star team and as the break approaches, his numbers continue to rise.
His .325 batting average and 69 RBIs put him in an elite class among current players, but his extra base hit total, outside the top 40 in MLB, point to the hitting approach that is making the Cardinal first baseman an all star.
"It's always been my approach to put the barrel on the ball and let the ball go where it's going to go," said Craig when asked about his hitting style.
Craig's approach has also paid off in the biggest moments of his career. His two biggest hits as a professional, the pinch hit RBI singles in games 1 and 2 of the 2011 World Series, were both slap singles on pitches down and away. But why has Craig been able to keep the same hitting approach in the clean-up role, rather than trying to muscle up and hit home runs? It is because he has confidence in the guys around him.
"There are a lot of situations where you'd like to hit hat big double or homer," said Craig, "but a lot of times a single is all we need to give the next guy a shot."
And that next guy has delivered more times than not this year. With Molina, Freese and occasionally Adams following Craig in the order, the Cardinals have been getting production throughout the lineup while using the same hitting approach. This lineup's wide production has led the Cardinals to the best average, most runs and highest on base percentage in the National League.
In addition to his work at the plate, Craig has displayed versatility in the field that has proven vital in his success and the success of his teammates. Because Craig has been able to make 24 starts in the outfield, Matt Adams has been able to start at first while also giving veteran outfielders Carlos Beltran and Matt Holiday key days of rest.
This has kept Adams sharp with 22 starts at first, Holliday and Beltran rested with a total of 20 off days between them and Craig's run scoring production in the lineup with 323 at-bats, second on the team.
His hitting style in the middle of the order, confidence in his teammates and defensive versatility have made Craig one of the most valuable pieces on the Cardinals in the first half of the season, and made him deserving of his first all star nod.