Randal Grichuk's strong 2015 campaign had him in a very favorable position heading into 2016, with an everyday job, plus power and what many believed to be an average hit tool. However, things went south in a hurry for the 25-year-old, as he came out of the gate with just a .206 batting average and strikeouts in a quarter of his plate appearances through mid-June. This led the Cardinals to shock everyone and send him back to the minors on two occasions during the summer. His performance vastly improved after the second demotion, as he slashed .275/.303/.579 with 12 home runs and 33 RBI, although it came with an unsustainably-high 34.1 percent strikeout rate. He will open the season as the everyday left fielder, although he showed in 2016 that he can be incredibly streaky, so he should be treated as a volatile asset. Grichuk will need to make more consistent contact in order to stay in manager Mike Matheny's good graces.
Grichuk, who is moving to left field in 2017 with the arrival of Dexter Fowler, is looking forward to his new position and the coming season in general, Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. "Last year, I tried to feel for the ball a little too much - trying to be a hitter that I'm not. This year, I'm going to let it fly and have some fun, like I did the last month or month-and-a-half of the year," said Grichuk, who had 12 of his 24 homers in August and September. Grichuk tallied a career-high 24 homers and 68 RBI in 2016, despite struggling with a left knee that ended up requiring cartilage repair surgery in November. However, the 25-year-od did concede that the knee bothered him "a good amount" throughout the campaign, which likely played a part in his .240 average and .289 OBP. Now fully healthy, Grichuk and the Cardinals feel his speed, strong throwing arm and previous experience playing left field will help him make a seamless transition to his new position. At the plate, Grichuk also will aim to make much more consistent contact, considering he's posted 31.4-and-29.5-percent strikeout rates, respectively, over his last two major league seasons.
Grichuk has recovered from surgery to remove loose cartilage from his left knee, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. It took Grichuk just over a month to recover from surgery. He is coming off a season in which he hit 24 home runs with 68 RBI and a .240 average. The 25-year-old enters spring training as a projected starter in the St. Louis outfield.
Grichuk went 2-for-5 with a two-RBI single and run-scoring double in Saturday's 10-4 victory over the Cubs. The young outfielder's bat remained red-hot in the blowout win, with Grichuk already having equaled his RBI total (15) from all of August with Saturday's production. He's now hit safely in six of his last seven and is hitting .309 (25-for-81) during September.
Grichuk homered and scored twice in a 1-for-4 game in Monday's win over the Rockies. Grichuk also tallied his 122nd strikeout as his all-or-nothing season continues. Of his 96 hits, 51 of them (53 percent) have gone for extra bases, which has allowed Grichuk to post a .490 slugging percentage despite just a .240 batting average and .289 OBP.
Grichuk finished 1-for-3 with a double and run scored in Saturday night's 5-1 win over the Brewers. Grichuk was superb both defensively and offensively, beginning in the top half of the eight when he made an on-a-rope throw to gun down Jake Elmore at home plate, an apparent momentum swing he carried with him into the Cardinals dugout as the club put up five runs in the bottom half of the inning, including a double from the 25-year-old centerfielder who would score the go-ahead run three batters later.