It seems like it happens almost every season. The Cardinals calling up some mid-tier prospect in the middle of the season and that call-up turning into a key piece of their lineup by season’s end. Matt Carpenter, Jose Martinez, and Paul DeJong to name a few.
This season, that player has turned out to be Tommy Edman, a former sixth round pick out of Stanford turned respectable prospect. Edman moved up the minor league ladder rather quickly, making the jump from rookie-ball in 2016 to Triple-A by the end of 2018, and starting back in Triple-A to begin 2019. His versatility always gave him a strong prospect of eventually playing in the majors and on June 8th of this season the Cardinals called him up to make his big league debut at age 24.
As the season progressed, his roles transitioned from minor league depth, to major league place-filler, to a valuable piece of the bench; and now in the postseason, he’s an integral part of the lineup.
Edman has done a little bit of everything for the Cardinals this season. He’s provided a steady amount of value in all facets of the game, providing elite-level base running, above-average defensive value, and a 123 wRC+ at the plate. In only 92 games and 349 plate appearances, he’s stolen 15 bases (caught stealing only once) and hit 36 extra-base hits, including 11 home runs.
His value on the base paths has perhaps been the most impressive part of his game, using a Sprint Speed that ranked in the top three percent of baseball. His prorated level of base running runs ranked second in baseball this season, trailing only Jarrod Dyson out of 273 hitters with at least 300 plate appearances.
Top 10 hitters in prorated BsR
|Billy Hamilton||- - -||353||5.8||9.9|
Defensively, Edman has been more than serviceable. His best attribute in this department is perhaps his versatility, playing games at second base, third base, and all three outfield positions. He ranked in the top fifth of baseball in defensive runs above average. With his limited time in the outfield, he turned his fair share of difficult plays into outs.
With the bat, Edman turned some above-average contact skills and good fortune into offensive production. His BABIP ran high (.346) and he out performed his underlying metrics by a decent amount (.328 xwOBA vs .360 wOBA). The good thing for him and the Cardinals is that even if he regressed to a league-average hitter (which seems likely), his added value outside of hitting would still likely make him a worthy major league player.
It’s also worth mentioning that with his plus-contact skills and power potential (max exit velocity of 110.1 miles per hour was slightly above-average, along with a line drive swing (24.7 percent line drive-rate), there’s still hope that he can be an above-average offensive player beyond this season.
Now playing in the NLCS with the Cardinals, he’ll play in a role in their bid for a chance to play in the World Series. Through seven postseason games, he’s slashing .240/.296/.440, contributing with three doubles and a triple. With terrific numbers verses lefties (.321/.380/.583 slashline), he’ll have some opportunities to come up big, whether it be in the lineup against Patrick Corbin or coming off the bench.
Tommy Edman has played a major role in the Cardinals efforts towards the National League pennant with his under-the-radar production. With the stakes higher than ever, he’ll look to continue to do so.