As Major League Baseball fans know, the St. Louis Cardinals prepare to send rookie right-hander Michael Wacha to the mound Monday afternoon in Pittsburgh in an attempt to stave off elimination in Game 4 of the National League Division Series.
It is a heady assignment for any player, let alone one with such limited experience. Yet as we have seen in the past few days from others such as Sonny Gray and Gerrit Cole, youngsters can and do thrive in the post-season atmosphere.
No matter what happens on Monday, I am guessing the Cardinals are truly at ease with the decision to not match the Los Angeles Angels’ 10-year, $240 million contract offer to Albert Pujols two winters ago.
Fueled by the additions of youngsters such as Allen Craig (who replaced Pujols at first base) and veterans like Carlos Beltran (signed with part of the cash earmarked for Pujols), the Cardinals reached the post-season in both of their post-Pujols campaigns.
Further, the departure of Pujols awarded St. Louis the 19th selection of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft from the Halos. They used that pick on Wacha, who signed for slot value, $1.9 million, and arrived in the majors just 11 months later.
As the 22-year-old prepares for the biggest game of his young career and Pujols watches the Division Series on television, here are some thoughts.
- If MLB clubs were granted a “do-over” on the 2012 draft, where would Wacha have been selected?
- If the pitching-starved Angels had kept their 19th pick, would they have chosen Wacha?
- This season, Albert delivered 0.7 WAR in 99 injury-plagued games for the Halos. In his initial 15 regular-season outings with St. Louis, Wacha’s WAR was 1.1.
- In 2013, Albert made $16 million, while Wacha earned a pro-rated share of the MLB minimum salary of $490,000 while with St. Louis.
- By the time Pujols’ annual salary escalates to its peak value of $30 million in 2021, the final year of his contract, will Wacha have earned that much money over his entire career to date?
- What will be their respective aggregate WARs over the decade of 2012-2021?