Tenure with the St. Louis Cardinals
|St. Louis Cardinals – No. 32|
August 31, 1988 |
|Bats: Left||Throws: Right|
|May 20, 2012 for the St. Louis Cardinals|
(through June 22, 2014)
|Runs batted in||89|
Matthew James "Matt" Adams (born August 31, 1988) is a first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals of Major League Baseball (MLB). Nicknamed Big City for his imposing size and ability to regularly hit long home runs, the Cardinals drafted Adams in the 23rd round of the 2009 MLB Draft from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania.
Playing in the Texas League in 2011, Adams was recognized as that league's Most Valuable Player and the Cardinals Minor League Player of the Year with a .300 batting average, 32 home runs and 101 runs batted in. He made his MLB debut in 2012. In his rookie season in 2013, Adams hit 17 home runs in 296 at-bats.
Matt Adams grew up in Philipsburg, Pennsylvania. According to an interview with Fox Sports Midwest he was a big fan of Ken Griffey, Jr. After graduating from Philipsburg-Osceola High School he attended Slippery Rock University where he holds the career records of batting average (.473) and slugging percentage (.754). In 2009, he was named the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association's Division II National Player of the Year.
Draft and minor leagues (2009–12)
The St. Louis Cardinals drafted Matt Adams in the 23rd round of the 2009 Major League Baseball Draft. At each level he played in the minor leagues, Adams displayed prodigious hitting ability. His first full-season assignment came in 2010 with the Quad Cities River Bandits of the single-A Midwest League. In 121 games, he batted .310 with 71 runs scored, 44 doubles, 22 home runs (HR), and 88 runs batted in (RBI). His .541 slugging percentage (SLG) led all Cardinals minor leaguers.
In 2011, Adams was named the Cardinals Minor League Player of the Year and the Texas League Most Valuable Player (MVP) after hitting .300, a .357 on-base percentage (OBP) and .566 SLG with 32 HR and 101 RBI in 115 games. He set club records in home runs and RBI, including eclipsing the mark of 29 HR Colby Rasmus set in 2007. One of the leading candidates for Texas League MVP award was Arkansas Travelers' outfielder Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim organization. Adams was also selected to represent the Cardinals in the Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game.
St. Louis Cardinals (2012–present)
Prior to the 2012 season, Baseball America considered him the ninth best prospect in the Cardinals organization. On May 20, 2012, the Cardinals called Adams up after placing Lance Berkman on the disabled list (DL). He went 2-for-4 in his major league debut. He hit his first major league home run six days later. Adams played in 27 games with the Cardinals where he hit .244 with 13 RBI and two home runs before returning to Memphis.
Splitting time between the AAA Memphis Redbirds and the Cardinals, he continued to show consistent power and batting average in the minor leagues. At Memphis, Adams hit 18 home runs with 50 RBI as he batted .329 with a .624 slugging percentage. However, an elbow injury brought an early end to his 2012 season. The injury, which had been a nagging problem much of summer, finally had to be treated surgically in mid-August to remove a bone spur.
Adams led the Cardinals in 2013 spring training with 17 RBI. It was at that point that Adams earned his nickname, "Big City." According to former teammate David Freese, several players had been searching for a nickname for the 6 ft 3 inch 230-pounder, when one day someone shouted out "Big City." Said Freese: "Well he's a big boy that can rake [the ball]. I guess it hit because the guy can flat-out hit." Adams started off the regular season on the St. Louis Cardinals roster as a bench player, backing up first baseman Allen Craig. He caught the attention of the fans and media early on when in his first ten plate appearances he hit three home runs, two doubles, three singles, and a walk. For a significant part of April, his batting average hovered between .640 and .700.
With a right oblique strain, the Cardinals placed on the 15-day disabled list on April 26, retroactive to April 22. As the season progressed, teams began to notice his pull-hitting tendencies and often employed an extreme infield shift on him that left one or no fielders on the left side of the second base bag. He also had difficulty hitting off-speed pitches from left-handed pitchers. Because he often grounded out to the right side of the bag, his batting average began to precipitously decline. In June, he batted just .179 and .205 in August.
At the conclusion of his rookie season, Adams finished with a .284 batting average and .503 SLG. He connected for 17 HR in 296 AB for a ratio of one home run every 17.41 at bats. That represented the third-best figure for rookies in franchise history. His home run to fly ball ratio was 21.8%, ranking 11th in the major leagues for all players with at least 300 PA. Regular right fielder Carlos Beltrán became a free agent after the season. Craig shifted to right field to replace him, clearing a way for Adams to assume first base regularly.
During a game against the Cincinnati Reds on April 3, 2014 in Cincinnati, Adams was attempting to catch a Chris Heisey pop-up that sailed into the shallow part of the seats. The infield tarp was in Adams' run path. As he leaned over the tarp to catch the ball, it was falling toward the second row of seats, and a fan named Chris Smith caught the ball with his own glove just above Adams' outstretch glove. Adams shifted his momentum to stand back up behind the tarp, and planted his glove on Smith's chest, pushing himself backward with a moderate shove. Smith, who had been recovering from knee surgery, gestured an obscenity with his hand toward him. During post-game interviews, Adams stated that he did not realize he had shoved Smith, but that he was preventing himself from falling into the stands.
Opponents escalated the rate of infield shifting the employed against Adams in 2014, as it was already a league-wide trend. To foil the shift, he began to hit the ball more to left field (also a technique known as "taking the pitch the other way") from the outset of the season. Another difference from the season prior was that he did not hit his first home run until the eleventh game of 2014, which took place against the Chicago Cubs. The results of his modified approach began to show, as he was batting .357 with a .400 OBP and .548 SLG through that game. Despite the drop-off in the power numbers, he continued to hit well against the shift. As of June 10, he was batting .390 (16 for 41) on ground balls and line drives against the shift with three home runs for the year. He also did it without successfully bunting for a base hit.
The team placed Adams on the DL for the second time in his MLB career from May–June. After his return, he homered in the first three games. His first multi-homer game of the season came against the Colorado Rockies on June 23 at Coors Field with two home runs and six RBI in an 8–0 victory. This was Adams' third MLB multi-home run game and first the six-RBI game for the Cardinals since David Freese did it June 7, 2012 against the Houston Astros. In a July 7 contest against the Pittsburgh Pirates – the team he grew up watching – Adams hit the first walk-off home run by a Cardinals batter in the regular season since Skip Schumaker did so against the Kansas City Royals in 2011.
- "Matt Adams statistics and history". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved April 15, 2013.
- Associated Press (April 11, 2013). "Rookie backup Matt Adams batting .643 for Cardinals". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved April 15, 2013.
- Slippery Rock University Press (August 29, 2011). "Adams earns Texas League MVP honor". Slippery Rock University Athletics.
- Mlot, Josh (June 11, 2009). "Matt Adams drafted by St. Louis Cardinals". The Progress. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
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- Leach, Matthew (November 2, 2011). "Cards' Adams to play in Rising Stars Game". MLB.com.
- Goold, Derrick (November 21, 2011). "St. Louis Cardinals top 2012 prospects". Baseball America.
- "May 20, 2012 St. Louis Cardinals at Los Angeles Dodgers play by play and box score". Baseball-Reference.com. May 20, 2012.
- Langosch, Jenifer (May 12, 2012). "Adams hopes to impress in big league stint". stlouis.cardinals.mlb.com.
- Raymond, Jonathan (December 12, 2012). "Taveras not Lone Star for Cardinals". MLB.com. Retrieved December 12, 2012.
- Starkey, J. P. (August 14, 2012). "Cardinals prospect Matt Adams undergoes surgery, return set for spring 2013". SB Nation.com. Retrieved December 12, 2012.
- Frederickson, Ben (April 10, 2013). "Adams lives up to 'Big City' nickname". Fox Sports Midwest. Retrieved April 15, 2013.
- Goold, Derrick (April 15, 2013). "Hard for Cards to keep Adams on bench". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved April 15, 2013.
- Langosch, Jenifer (April 26, 2013). "Cards place Adams on DL, purchase Curtis' contract". MLB.com.
- Nations, Steven (April 8, 2014). "Are we seeing a different Matt Adams?". KSDK.com. Retrieved April 12, 2014.
- Miklasz, Bernie (November 21, 2013). "Trade Matt Adams at your own risk". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved January 28, 2014.
- Nations, Stephen (April 8, 2014). "Are we seeing a different Matt Adams?". KSDK.com. Retrieved June 7, 2014.
- Rosecrans, C. Trent (April 3, 2014). "Fan gets a shove from Cardinals' 1B Matt Adams". The Cincinnati Enquirer. Retrieved April 12, 2014.
- "Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals – box score". ESPN.com. April 12, 2014. Retrieved April 12, 2014.
- Knisley, Michael (June 10, 2014). "When the defense looks shifty ...". ESPN.com. Retrieved June 14, 2014.
- Associated Press (June 16, 2014). "Cardinals make it 7 of 8, stifle Mets 6–2". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved June 23, 2014.
- Ulm, Cody (June 24, 2014). "Adams homers twice behind Lynn's gem". MLB.com. Retrieved June 23, 2014.
- Smith, Ryan (June 23, 2014). "Matt Adams' career night power Cardinals in Colorado". Redbird Rants. Retrieved June 23, 2014.
- Halsted, Alex (July 7, 2014). "After scoreless duel, Cards walk off with win". MLB.com. Retrieved July 7, 2014.
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)