St. Louis Cardinals‘ Peter Bourjos has not had the best of starts to the season, but he has still managed to contribute in several ways. First he has been as expected, a dynamo with the glove. Posting a Baseball Reference defensive WAR of .4 in just 37 games with not all of them starts, his defense alone projects to be worth three wins to the club were he to play full time.
However, his competitor Jon Jay has been just about as good in the field and much, much better with the bat. Nevertheless, manager Mike Matheny had employed a platoon of fair productivity and was continuing to do so until Bourjos went down over the weekend with a stomach ailment. Platoons are most utilized depending on the hand of the pitcher; for instance, the left-handed Jay was scheduled to sit against the Cincinnati Reds‘ lefty starter Tony Cingrani.
Alas, Bourjos went down with a stomach virus of some sort, and Jay responded with a 3-for-4 night, keying the Cardinals to a victory and raising his lefty pitcher hitting split to .381, albeit in only 21 PAs. Now this is a major problem for Bourjos, as Jay is basically batting the exact same pace as when he put up 2.6 WAR offensively in 2013. The difference is Jay has stepped it up with the glove as well, right on Bourjos’s heels with .3 WAR.
Bourjos has incredible range, though, and he is not going to be relegated to the bench. Healthy, he is a prime talent and will flourish as a starter, just not likely for the Cardinals. Jay is more tied to clubhouse chemistry than perhaps anyone other than SP Adam Wainwright and C Yadier Molina, so it is unlikely he will be traded when Oscar Taveras arrives. This leaves Bourjos, and the much less upside of Matt Adams, as the prime position players the Cardinals will move as they make their move towards what is hoped to be ring No. 12.