Selected just two spots after Colby Rasmus in the 2005 draft, Tyler Greene has steadily moved his way through the farm system. Often regarded as something of a raw college talent who had some bad metal bat tendencies, Greene struggled to make consistent contact through the minors and did little to offset that with plate discipline. Defensive metrics for the minors show Greene having everything from slightly below average seasons to well above average ones. His defense is generally regarded as above average for a shortstop and he exhibits good range and a strong arm.
Something clicked for Greene last season though and it seems that it’s been somewhat overlooked.
Greene split time between St. Louis and Memphis. While in St. Louis he flashed some impressive defensive prowess but was largely inconsistent. He displayed the same weaknesses that had plagued him throughout the minors batting just .222 and striking out in 30% of his ABs while walking in just under 4%. That’s not a ratio that will produce good results as Greene’s .270 OBP will attest. Of his 17 hits, 7 went for extra bases offering a glimpse of the tantalizing upside Greene could have as a shortstop.
The erratic nature of Greene’s play coupled with the emergence of Brendan Ryan as a legitimate gold glove shortstop served to put Greene in Memphis for most of the season. These deficiencies on display in St. Louis as well as the notion that Greene’s been around for quite some time (he’ll be 27 next August), obscured the tremendous season that Greene had in Memphis.
He posted the highest OPS of his career since 2006 when he was at the Quad Cities. With a .852 mark, he eclipsed his 2007 and 2008 numbers by nearly 100 points. Greene’s swing showed the same old holes with a strikeout rate over 25% but he finally graduated above the double digit mark in walk percentage posting his best strikeout to walk ratio to date. The combination of power and speed was on display as he hit 15 homeruns and legged out 5 triples*. With a .291/.369/.482 line, Greene added to his offensive contributions by stealing 31 bases and being caught just 3 times. (A quick look at an run expectancy matrix offers a worst case gain of 3 runs and a best case game of 9 runs on the base path — it’s likely something like 5 runs added).
*Am I the only one who thinks triples are more fun to watch than homeruns?
The translation for that line isn’t terribly rosy with a rather low MLB equivalent OBP. It’s also worth noting that Greene’s BABIP was slightly elevated at .351 though not a mark that indicates it was entirely luck given his LD% (21) and his speed. Without trying to project Greene, his season in Memphis is laudable.
If you decide to look down the road a year or so, it’s well within reason to think that something did click offensively. To think that maybe he could get the OBP into a tolerable rante (.320-.330) for the majors and offset that with secondary skills like baserunning, defense and power. He may never have an awesome nickname like Boog, but the upside, given the diversity of Greene’s skillset, is significant. Don’t be surprised if he supplants Brendan Ryan as the Cardinals’ shortstop in the future.