For whatever reason, a game against the Cincinnati Reds carries enhanced danger for the St. Louis Cardinals. Whether it is Juan Encarnacion having his eye damaged by a freak foul ball in 2007, Johnny Cueto essentially ending Jason Larue’s career with a kick to the head in 2010, or Allen Craig breaking his foot last season, the Reds bring trouble for the Redbirds. In Craig’s case, the trouble seems more permanent than first thought.
Last September in Cincinnati, Craig broke his foot at first largely due to an unaware umpire. He missed the rest of the regular season and did not return until the World Series, where he performed memorably, and admirably. However so far this season he has struggled to even reach .200 and in looking at the film, it is easy to see why.
When Craig is batting healthy, his swing is artistic. A perfect compilation of poise and power, his line drive stroke powers the Cardinals offense and makes opposing pitchers sweat. Yet on film this season we see a Craig who is batting with his upper body. On some swings you can even see him pull up his left foot even after the timing front leg kick, leaving him off balalnce and swinging with mostly his arms. The result is a weak swing, as evidenced by his low line drive percentages and fly ball ratios.
What happens now is uncertain. First the Cardinals must figure out if this is a muscle memory habit or if he is still in pain. If he is still in pain the club needs to go ahead and DL him and let him heal and bring up Oscar Taveras or Stephen Piscotty. The NL Central is competitive and the Cardinals need their players to put their best, and healthiest feet forward.