With the offense scoring a grand total of six runs in the past six games (all losses), the team obviously needs a spark. Thus, can Chambers be the spark the team needs?
In 326 at-bats for the Memphis Redbirds, Chambers is hitting .252 with eight home runs and 42 runs batted in. His on-base percentage is .338, and he is 15 for 17 on stolen bases. 25 of his 82 hits are for extra bases (eight home runs, four triples, 13 doubles) which gives him a .390 slugging percentage.
The big problem the Cardinals have now is that both of their center fielders bat left-handed. With Robinson being a right-handed bat, the team had been splitting time–giving Jay starts against righties and Robinson against lefties.
Jay Against Lefties in 2013:
73 at-bats: .151 batting average, .262 on-base percentage, .205 slugging, one home run, six RBI
Chambers Against Lefties in 2013:
83 at-bats: .145 batting average, .209 on-base percentage, .241 slugging, two home runs, 10 RBI
Jay Against Righties in 2013:
278 at-bats: .277 batting average, .348 on-base percentage, .381 slugging, four home runs, 33 RBI
Chambers Against Righties in 2013:
243 at-bats: .288 batting average, .379 on-base percentage, .440 slugging, six home runs, 32 RBI
Thus, if you compare the numbers, Chambers and Jay look like identical hitters. They have average to above-average numbers against right-handers, and they struggle mightily against left-handers.
However, as we all know, Jay’s defense has been lacking this season. His arm strength is poor and his reads on fly balls are just a step slower than past seasons. Chambers is not necessarily known for his throwing arm either, but he can chase down fly balls with the best of them. His outfield range is probably the best in the entire organization.
Chambers is absolutely ON FIRE in July. He has a .354 batting average, .391 on-base percentage, .573 slugging, four home runs, and 16 RBI. He is also 7 for 7 on stolen bases.
Thus, with the funk that the entire team seems to be in right now, Chambers should be given an opportunity to start in center field for the Cardinals. He has a fresh mind that has not been around the clubhouse that is undoubtedly down right now. He can bring an enthusiasm to the lineup that the team does not necessarily have right now.
With Jay’s decreased range this season, Chambers will provide an upgrade in the field, a slight upgrade at the plate, an upgrade on the base paths, and frankly, he is on fire right now, so he deserves a shot.
He very well could come back to Earth now that he is facing Major League pitching, but to me, with the way things are going for the offense, he is fully deserving of a shot to be in the starting lineup. Will Matheny do this? Probably not, but if I was the manager of a team currently in a six-game losing streak, I would switch it up and insert Chambers into the lineup.
Oh yeah, one more thing: as I noted on Twitter, in his MLB career, Chambers is 2 for 4 with two triples and three RBI when putting the first pitch in play. Thus, when he comes to bat for the Cardinals, look for him to be first pitch swingin’!
Until next time…
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