“Exhibit A” to support an assertion that Allen Craig was the Cardinals’ most important hitter in 2013 is his team-leading total of 97 RBI. “Exhibit B” is his prowess batting with runners in scoring position as measured by his MLB-leading and unworldly .454 batting average in those situations.
As September opened, the Cardinals were battling Cincinnati and Pittsburgh in the tight National League Central Division race. Losing three of four in the Queen City at the start of the month was bad enough, but they lost Craig in the process.
The actual transition from Craig to rookie Matt Adams at first base was most symbolic. It all happened within the confines of the 16-inning win in Cincinnati on August 4th.
Though Adams hit a team-record two extra-inning home runs to lead the Cards over the Reds, the only reason the big first baseman was in the game due to a sprained foot suffered by Craig.
Craig remained out for the entire remainder of the regular season due to what was later diagnosed as a Lisfranc injury. The right-handed swinger did return as a designated hitter in the World Series.
In the interim, Adams stepped in admirably, with eight home runs and 15 RBI during those crucial September contests. Though it did not occur initially, Adams eventually slid into Craig’s vacated clean-up spot in the batting order. Adams’ line during the month was .315/.344/.609/.952. The left-handed hitter was quiet in the NLCS and World Series after a good Division Series against Pittsburgh.
With the Cardinals expecting better things from both Craig and Adams as projected regulars in 2014 and needing at-bats for top prospect Oscar Taveras as well, the club let incumbent right fielder Carlos Beltran leave as a free agent. All three will need to step up.