Post Content Cardinals News 

February 27th, 2023

JUPITER, Fla. — Leaders, as Cardinals manager Oli Marmol was saying prior to Monday’s 12-7 Grapefruit League win against the Mets, come in all shapes, sizes and styles. Then, as Marmol was peering out on the field, he saw Tommy Edman fielding ground balls and mentioned the shortstop’s distinct leadership style.

“It would have been easy for him to get his at-bats [on Sunday], pack up, go get some lunch today and then head to the airport, but [Edman getting in work] shows a real commitment,” Marmol said of Edman, who was scheduled to take a 16-hour flight to Seoul, South Korea, for the World Baseball Classic on Monday night. “It’s hard to match what we have going on in our clubhouse at the moment.”

While Adam Wainwright is the respected, senior member of the clubhouse and Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt are the unquestioned superstar leaders, Edman has elbowed his way into the conversation as one of the most vital and important Cardinals with the way others respond to him and marvel at his wide array of skills. The 27-year-old Edman is hoping to return from the WBC in a few weeks as more of a leader for the Cardinals — both in the clubhouse and in several offensive statistical categories.

Edman’s motivation this offseason has been to try to get closer to the player who hit .304 with a .350 on-base percentage as a rookie in 2019 as opposed to the one who hit in the .260s with an average on-base percentage much of the past three seasons. Becoming a consistent force — both from the right- and left-handed sides of the plate — would help lengthen the Cardinals’ lineup and almost certainly make the franchise more of a serious championship contender.

“Even having had some success in the past, I feel like I’ve shown flashes of what I could be, but I haven’t been as consistent as I wanted to be,” said Edman, who followed up his 41-double, 11-home run campaign in 2021 with 31 doubles and 13 home runs in 2022. “The past couple of years, I’ve had stretches where I’ve struggled for a few months and then stretches where I’ve been good. I know I can get to where I have more good months than bad. Everybody has ups and downs, and for me, it’s just about trying to minimize those down times.”

Through the years, the 5-foot-10, 180-pound Edman has learned that the conditioning of his body has a major effect on how he performs. The concern when Edman moved from second base to shortstop last season was the increased toll the switch might make on his body. However, he defied that theory by playing some of his best baseball after the switch. Still, Edman played through stiffness in his hips and lower back much of the season, and he is hopeful that managing that issue will make him more productive in 2023.

“For me, it’s about knowing my body and knowing my swing,” said Edman, who was among MLB’s leaders in Outs Above Average last season. “Something I’ve really worked on is understanding how my body moves. I know now I fall into certain habits and I’m doing my best to snap out of those things. Everybody is going to have areas that pop up when they struggle, and I’ve done a better job of identifying it. I’ve got to get better at getting out of those slumps and correcting things quicker.”

Edman, a Gold Glover at second base in 2021, was a finalist for that top defensive honor at shortstop and the newly created utility position last season. However, he didn’t win either award — likely because he played nearly as many games at second (89) as he did at shortstop (80). In 310 chances at shortstop, Edman — a shortstop in college at Stanford University — made just two errors.

The Cardinals still have two more years of contractual control over Edman, but he is aware what a Gold Glove season at shortstop and some improved offensive numbers could do for his future earnings potential. Edman looked on with interest this offseason as Trea Turner, Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts and Dansby Swanson signed long-term free-agent contracts worth more than $950 million. “It definitely gives you incentive to play well at short when you see what kind of contracts guys are getting,” said Edman, who thinks he can steal at least 40 bases this season with MLB’s new rules limiting the number of pitcher pick-off throws.