Columnist Jeff Gordon's final report card for the 2019 Cardinals position players.
YADIER MOLINA, Catcher
GORDO ON MOLINA: He returned from his thumb injury to help drive the second-half push. Molina hit .285 after the All-Star break with an .801 on-base plus slugging percentage. Overall he hit .305 with runners in scoring position. Defensively he threw out just 27 percent of opposing base stealers, the second-lowest mark in his career.
Molina fell into the same playoff hitting funk that claimed most of his teammates; he was just 5 for 33 with one walk. But he turned 37 in July, so he exceeded expectations at that age — and his leadership, pitch calling and pitch framing were exceptional.
KOLTEN WONG, Second Baseman
GORDO ON WONG: Once again he fielded second base at a Gold Glove level. Wong also hit .285 for the second time in three years. This season he broke through as a base stealer, succeeding 24 times in 28 tries. He hit .310 with runners in scoring position and two outs. His 4.7 Wins Above Replacement (Baseball Reference version) was best among the team's position players.
And Wong wasn't quite as helpless in the playoffs as some teammates. He hit .206 with four walks, four runs scored, three doubles, four RBIS and two stolen bases.
LANE THOMAS, Outfielder
GORDO ON THOMAS: His tiny work sample was impressive: .316 batting average and 1.093 OPS in 44 plate appearances. Thomas had four hits — including three homers — plus a walk in his 13 pinch-hitting performances. He was an excellent defensive replacement, too, posting strong metrics in limited duty. Had Thomas stayed healthy he would have had a postseason role. He should get a long look in spring training.
TOMMY EDMAN, Infielder
GORDO ON EDMAN: His hitting, speed and fielding versatility made him one of the team MVPs of the second-half push. Edman hit .304 with an .850 OPS and 15 stolen bases in 16 tries after graduating from the minors in June. He did nice defensive work while bouncing between third base, second base and right field.
But he hit just .208 with runners in scoring position and .152 with RISP and two outs. He was just 6 for 33 during the postseason, but he had three doubles, a triple and three RBIs.
RANDY AROZARENA, Outfielder
GORDO ON AROZARENA: He finally broke out in the minors this season, hitting .344 while splitting the season between Double-A Springfield and Triple-A Memphis. That earned him his first big league opportunity in the crowded Cardinals outfield. In limited regular season and playoff action Arozarena went 6 for 24 with two walks, a double, a homer, four runs scored, two RBIs and three stolen bases.
MATT WIETERS, Catcher
GORDO ON WIETERS: He gave the Cardinals some added power as Molina's understudy. He hit 11 homers in 168 at-bats for the season, and posted an .842 OPS in July when Molina was shelved. Overall he threw out eight of 19 runners attempting to steal a base.
But Wieters was just 2 for 14 with three walks and a hit by pitch in 18 pinch-hitting appearances. He managed just one hit in 27 at bats with runners in scoring position and two outs and he was 0 for 3 in the playoffs.
PAUL GOLDSCHMIDT, First Baseman
GORDO ON GOLDSCHMIDT: His soft hands at first base improved the team's defense. He helped trigger the second-half surge with 27 RBIs and a 1.085 OPS in July. He went 9 for 21 with five runs scored in the NLDS.
But Goldschmidt's bottom line was disappointing: a 30-point drop in batting average from 2018 and a 100-point OPS decline. This was especially unsettling given MLB's power surge due to juiced baseballs. He hit just .252 with runners in scoring position and .244 with RISP and two outs. Goldschmidt turned 32 last month and the Cardinals owe him $130 million over the next five years. Feel free to fret.
JOSE MARTINEZ, Outfielder
GORDO ON J. MARTINEZ: Game 4 of the NLCS vividly illustrated his good and his bad. On one hand, he smashed a two-run double off the right-center field wall. On the other hand, he bailed on a shallow fly ball that was his to catch all the way. That mishap helped spark a seven-run first inning for the Nationals. Martinez can hit (7-for-13 in the playoffs!) but he cannot field well. His defensive runs saved per 1,200 innings during the regular season came in at minus-19. Ouch.
YAIRO MUNOZ, Infielder/Outfielder
GORDO ON MUNOZ: He did a nice job filling in during the first half, batting .307 in 88 at bats after the All-Star break. His ability to play anywhere in the infield or outfield made him especially handy as a bench player. But Munoz didn't hit as well in the second half (.226 in 84 at bats) and he got just one postseason at bat. His inability to draw walks (just seven all season) left him with a subpar .298 on-base percentage.
TYLER O'NEILL, Outfielder
GORDO ON O'NEILL: He had an excellent July, hitting .301 with an OPS of .823. But O'Neill got hurt and fell out of the rotation, getting just 15 plate appearances the rest of the way. Overall O'Neill hit .262, but he struck out 53 times in 151 plate appearance while drawing just 10 walks. He wasn't a good pinch-hitter, delivering just two hits and a walk in 17 tries.
He hit 13 homers in 175 minor league at bats this season, but that power won't translate in the big leagues unless he cuts down on strikeouts. O'Neill runs well and plays all three outfield spots, but his fielding metrics weren't great.
ANDREW KNIZNER, Catcher
GORDO ON KNIZNER: His rapid development allowed the team to trade top catching prospect Carson Kelly in the offseason Paul Goldschmidt deal. Knizner hit .274 with an .821 on-base plus slugging percentage at Memphis this season and .226 with two homers and two stolen bases in 18 games while filling for the Cardinals. For now, anyway, he looks to be Molina's heir-apparent.
RANGEL RAVELO, First Baseman
GORDO ON RAVELO: This career minor leaguer beat the odds to get his first taste of the big leagues this season at the age of 27. Ravelo went just 8 for 39, but he had two doubles, two homers and seven RBIs. The Cardinals liked his at bats as a pinch-hitter -- he delivered five hits and two walks in 22 plate appearances.
MARCELL OZUNA, Left Fielder
GORDO ON OZUNA: OK, his throwing shoulder was much better this season. But Ozuna's poor outfield reads, tentative routes to the ball and clumsy glove work made him a left field liability. He produced in spurts, but he also suffered prolonged slumps -- like when he hit .226 in May and (gulp) .160 in September.
His inconsistency continued in the postseason. Ozuna went 9 for 21 with three doubles, two homers, five runs scored and six RBIs against Atlanta in the NLDS. But then he went 3 for 16 with eight strikeouts and zero RBIs in the NLCS.
DEXTER FOWLER, Outfielder
GORDO ON FOWLER: His ability to play center field this season was a plus. So was his ability to hit leadoff again. Fowler provided a big offensive boost in August, delivering an .849 OPS with 21 RBIs.
But overall he provided substandard offense (.755 OPS) for an outfielder making $16.5 million for two more years. Fowler faded in September, batting just .183, and he went 2 for 33 with four walks during the playoffs. That poor finish added one more question mark to the offseason roster assessment.
PAUL DEJONG, Shortstop
GORDO ON DEJONG: He remained steady at shortstop, teaming with the spectacular Wong for an excellent double-play combination. His 14 defensive runs saved above average tied Wong for the team lead.
DeJong hit 30 homers, but so did 57 other big leaguers. His 4.1 WAR rating flattered him. He hit .200 in May, then .218, .205, .233 and .175 during the next four months. Overall, DeJong hit .193 with runners in scoring position and .182 with RISP and two outs. He hit .233 with 14 strikeouts in 30 at bats during the postseason. Manager Mike Shildt used to see DeJong as a No. 3 hitter; by October he often relegated him to the No. 8 hole.
HARRISON BADER, Center Fielder
GORDO ON BADER: He is a human highlight reel in center field, covering both alleys and making spectacular catches coming in and going back. His 25 defensive runs saved per 1,200 innings led the team. He flashed speed (11 steals) and power (12 homers) while moving in and out of the lineup.
But Bader can't hit sliders. Some remedial midseason hitting in the minors produced a 9-for-25 surge when he returned in August. But otherwise Bader hit .205 for the regular season before going 2 for 12 with six strikeouts in the playoffs.
JEDD GYORKO, Infielder
GORDO ON GYORKO: He played for the Cardinals this season, remember? A series of injuries limited him to 62 plate appearances in 38 games before the team traded him to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Gyorko hit .196 with two homers and seven RBIs before departing. He was a shell of the man who clubbed 50 homers and provided reliable fielding during the 2016 and '17 seasons.
MATT CARPENTER, Third Baseman
GORDO ON CARPENTER: In the span of one year he fell from MVP candidate to part-time player. Carpenter was batting just .212 in late August before rallying during the last five weeks. He went 22 for 76 (.289), six doubles, two homers and 13 RBIs while helping the Cardinals edge out the Brewers for the division title.
But Carpenter delivered just one hit in 13 postseason at bats, albeit with three RBIs. The $39 million left on his contract will handcuff management's ability to overhaul the offense this winter.