Matt Adams and the Cleanup Conundrum


Matt Adams should never hit cleanup.


Not against left-handers.  Not against right-handers.  Never.

Let’s start with the basics:

Matt Adams cannot hit lefties at all.

Here are his year by year Avg/OBP/SLG/OPS lines:

2012: .150/.190/.250/.440
2013: .231/.231/.423/.654
2014: .190/.231/.298/.528
2015: .000/.111/.000/.111
Total: .189/.222/.313/.535

Pete Kozma’s 2013 Season, that, in spite of a good glove got him sent to the minors and the Cardinals needing an offensive upgrade:


When Matt Adams bats cleanup against lefties, he is a slightly worse version of the Pete Kozma that not only wasn’t good enough to hit 8th, he was sent to AAA.

Matt Adams is REALLY bad against lefties.

Yet he hit.s 4th

I don’t have to tell you that Adams should never hit 4th against lefties.  You know this already. Unless you are Mike Matheny we are on the exact same page, because only Mike possibly believes that Matt Adams should bat 4th against lefties.

And boy does he believe it.  It happened yesterday.  Yesterday, with an injured Jason Heyward, and a completely ineffective Matt Adams, Matheny made the worst of all possible choices:

He put Mark Reynolds in RIGHT FIELD.

It was Mark’s 2nd career start out there.

Look, I think Bourjos is pathetic on offense.  I do.  But he’s better against lefties than Adams.  And he’s sure better defensively than Reynolds.  The half-wit manager would have been smart enough to put Bourjos in Center, shift Jay to Right, and have Reynolds play 1st.

But Mike is no half-wit manager.

I could go on with his litany of screw jobs last night, but let’s just focus on Adams.

He shouldn’t hit 4th against lefties.

He shouldn’t PLAY against lefties.

Now, I know this is impossible to limit entirely.  He needs to play SOME, or else his fate is endless hopelessness.  It’s also too much to ask for a player being completely hidden away for a season. But damn, if you have an alternative, use is.  Here is why:

The Cardinals are contenders, but they are not runaway favorites.  Without Wainwright, they may not be favorites at all.  Every freaking win counts.  Maximizing your every chance and opportunity should be the priority.  Yesterday Mike diminished offense and defense.  The Cardinals lost.  It’s related.

If the Cardinals were rebuilding, or up 10, sure give the big fella a shot.  Let him try to develop.  But that can’t happen in 2015.  Not with the current chances.  Not with the past history suggesting it won’t pay off anyway.


This isn’t about a slump.  This isn’t about his numbers.  It’s still about how he can’t hit lefties.

He hits righties pretty well.  Career: .304/.346/.497./843

That’s pretty damned good actually. Now yes, those numbers are likely to diminish.  Offense continues to fall, he can’t beat the shift to save his life, he looks like he is officially growing a 2nd Matt Adams, etc.  But the point still stands, Adams is a huge threat against righties.

BUT, that’s half a game.  And when you start getting into bullpen territory, and it’s close and late, and you have (in the case of today) Jay, Carpenter, and Holliday all getting on base, and…

VOILA!  Here comes a lefty.  And now we are left with hobbled Pete Kozma again.

And this scenario will continue to happen again and again.  At the time when we need Adams the most, other teams will exploit his glaring weakness.  It happened yesterday when Adams, who had the pleasure of never putting a ball in play during his 3 wiff performance, struck out on 3 pitches after Holliday was intentionally walked.

I hate the intentional walk.  It is almost always a bad percentage play.  In this case, it’s really not.  That’s how monumentally terrible Adams is against lefties.

So say it with me.  Start Adams against righties only.  Hit him low in the order.  Be ready to pinch hit or double switch AWAY from the heart of the order.  But dear God never bat him cleanup against a lefty, let alone an ace lefty.  Why, to be that stupid you’d have to be the Cardinals manager.

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