BERNIE: The Amazing Brendan Donovan Isn’t A Fluke And Has Already Made His Mark

I feel the need to write another article on The Amazing Brendan Donovan.

It’s hard to remember now, but the high-production, all-purpose rookie actually went through a bit of a dip recently… if we can even call it that.

In a four-game stretch against the Rays and Reds, Donovan went with a 1-for-14 walk. Uh-oh.

Hey, the pitchers need to figure him out and find his weaknesses!

No no no.

In his five games since the mini-slump, including Wednesday’s game against the Pirates, Donovan went 13 to 21 (.619) with a .667 onbase percentage, .810 slugging percentage and 1.476 OPS. This recent uproar included two walks, four doubles, seven runs scored and the delivery of five RBI. Oh, and he hit .429 with runners in scoring position.

The pirates must be happy to get away from Donovan; In the four-game streak, he had 11 hits in 17 at-bats with four doubles and five RBIs, and reached base 13 times.

For the season, Donovan hits .341 with .448 OBP and .465 Slug for .913 OPS. With his adjusted OPS, he’s offensively 66 percent above the MLB average.

How long can Donovan go on like this? I always think “He’ll cool down. It’s inevitable.” And well, that’s true. But that doesn’t mean that Donovan will collapse, slip into mediocrity and gradually fade away. This is not a Bo Hart sequel.

Why? Because Donovan selectively takes high-quality bats. His disc discipline is outstanding. He ran more often than he hit. He walks at an inflated price. His swings and misses are rare. He has excellent judgment in the hitting zone and doesn’t chase pitches all that often. And he has excellent contact skills.

I know I’m crazy about stats, but the only way I can explain it to you is by showing you the numbers that show this guy’s shot approach and why it makes his success sustainable.

Here’s a look at where Donovan ranks among St. Louis regulars:

He has the lowest persecution rate at 26.7 percent.

He is the pickiest hitter and takes 40% of all pitches that are served to him.

He has the highest contact rate – 96.4% – on pitches in the striking zone.

Its overall contact rate (86.7%) leads the team.

His swinging strike rate (5.3%) is the lowest among regular players.

– Its called strike rate (20.8%) is the second lowest.

– He has the best walking rate at 13.6 percent.

– He extends at-bats as well as every cardinal and sees 4.42 pitches per plate appearance. This ranks #3 among MLB batsmen to have at least 150 plate appearances this season.

– Part of the reason he spreads so many at-bats is his ability to foul while hitting at a high rate of pitches: 46 percent eye-opening. This is the highest among cardinals.

All of this is why I believe Donovan’s success will continue. I’m not saying he’ll end the season with a .341 batting average and a .448 OBP, but Donovan’s intelligent, disciplined batting approach will yield good results.

Donovan has already made a name for himself. Since getting promoted from Memphis and playing his first game for the Cardinals on April 25, Donovan has outperformed any STL hitter whose name isn’t Goldschmidt.

From April 25 through Wednesday night’s loss to Pittsburgh, Donovan ranks second behind Goldschmidt in batting average, onbase percentage, slugging percentage, OPS and doubles. He is third in RBI and fourth in runs scored.

With the baseball reference version of WAR, Donovan is at a disadvantage because he didn’t play in the majors until the end of April. He doesn’t have nearly as many plate appearances as the hitters who have posted the higher WAR numbers to date.

But Donovan’s 1.8 WAR matches or exceeds that of many players who have many more plate appearances than Donovan. His 1.8 WAR matches that of Pete Alonso, Tim Anderson and Carlos Correa. Donovan’s 1.8 WAR surpasses those of the likes of Francisco Lindor, Freddie Freeman, Trevor Story, Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, Jose Altuve, JT Realmuto, Wander Franco, Giancarlo Stanton, Kyle Schwarber, Matt Olson, Jose Rendon, Randy Arozarena, Christian Yelich, Ozzie Albies, Joc Pederson and Anthony Rizzo.

No one — I mean, absolutely no one — was expecting Donovan to appear on a list of top players from the majors this season. But he does, and it’s no coincidence. And that makes his success even more satisfying and enjoyable.

Thank you for reading …

-Bernie

Bernie invites you to listen to his quirky and analytical sports talk show on 590-AM The Fan, KFNS. It airs Monday through Thursday from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Friday from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. You can listen to it via online streaming or download the Bernie Show podcast from 590thefan.com – the 590 app works great and is available in your favorite app store.

Seeing Red, my weekly Cardinals podcast with Will Leitch, is available on multiple platforms including Apple and Spotify. Please subscribe.

Follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz

Please email your Ask Bernie questions to BernScoops@gmail.com

All statistics used herein are from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, Stathead, Bill James Online, Fielding Bible, Baseball Savant, and Brooks Baseball Net unless otherwise noted.

Bernie Miklasz

For the past 35 years, Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened and connected with generations of sports fans in St. Louis.

Best known for his voice as a senior sports columnist at Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington DC

Bernie, his wife Kirsten, and their cats live in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.

Leave a Comment