The future of Kolten Wong on the Cardinals has long been pondered over the course of his time in St. Louis. Is he an everyday guy or a bench player?
If the first five games are any indication, we may have stumbled upon the definitive answer.
Over his career, Kolten Wong has not had the most robust offensive numbers. Things seem to be trending upwards, however.
This conclusion is not being drawn off of a mere five games played, I’m not that naive. The changes started to take place seemingly right after former Cardinals’ skipper Mike Matheny was fired on July 14th of last year. From July 15th to the conclusion of the 2018 season, Wong slashed an impressive .310/.380.429. That is a big uptick from the .216/.305/.366 slash line he put up from the beginning of the season to July 14th.
That correlation of increased production with the introduction of Mike Shildt as the Cards’ manager has carried over into 2019. The effect Shildt has had on Wong’s confidence and overall play, was highlighted in this recent article. Yes it is early, but how can you ignore the numbers that Wong has already amassed combined with his numbers under Shildt in 2018?
All signs point towards Wong having a good overall year. And no, that’s not one of those cliches where you average out the stat over 162 games. I’m saying it would be shocking if Wong doesn’t have a very strong offensive season overall, if not the best offensive season of his career, based off of what he has showcased thus far and in 2018 after July 14th, 2018.
Through five games in 2019, here are his numbers along with their MLB ranks:
OPS: 1.606 (6th)
wRC+: 283 (4th)
wOBA: .656 (2nd)
ISO: .556 (7th)
fWAR: 0.6 (4th)
With it only being five games into the season, those numbers don’t hold much weight, (they’re just interesting to take a glance at) but with his four home-runs through five games this year, Wong has already hit 33% of the home-runs he hit a year ago in only 3.94% of the games. Additionally, he seems to be taking the ball to the opposite field much more in 2019, which is a good indication, as well. As previously mentioned, his numbers with Shildt as the manager in 2018 factor into this assessment also. It is stunning how Shildt has completely changed around Kolten Wong’s mindset and on-field confidence, in turn giving Wong one of the best stretches of his career.
That is just Kolten Wong offensively. Defensively speaking, he is one of the top players in the entire league. He got robbed of a Gold Glove last season after recording nineteen defensive runs saved with an ultimate zone rating of 13.4 and a range rating of 10.3. All of those statistics rank in the top portion of his position. Although, with Shildt at the helm, it is not outlandish that, with more playing time and increased confidence, those impressive numbers could increase a tad.
Kolten Wong is finally playing like the player he is capable of, and the league is starting to take notice.