Cardinals news from a Sabermetric point of view

If teammates are indicators, Westbrook in good shape for 2012

Joe Strauss recently reported that Jake Westbrook entered camp having lost weight:

Offering arguably the most dramatic physical transition of any player since the team’s World Series parade, Westbrook arrived last week at Roger Dean Stadium at 210 pounds, 20 pounds lighter than when he became the winning pitcher in the Cardinals’ epic Game 6 win over the Texas Rangers.

Claims of improved health in spring are of course ubiquitous, but it may be useful to review some past examples of how weight loss in particular has affected players. Cardinal players have traditional been fit, but a handful of players have come to camp with markedly reduced girth:

  • Lance Berkman, 2011: Was it the lost weight (reportedly 20 pounds) or generally better health that allowed Puma to have his most plate appearances in a season since 2008? It’s impossible to know for sure, but the lost weight didn’t hurt, as he led the club in OBP and SLG last year.
  • Nick Stavinoha, 2011: Stavinoha shed some pounds last spring in an effort to increase his versatility, namely at catcher.  He never even got called up from Memphis last year, and is now out of the organization. But given Stavinoha’s precarious status with the team as a fourth outfielder, it’s difficult to attribute any outcome to his health.
  • Yadier Molina, 2008: YaMo trimmed some fat (between 15-20 pounds) and went on to have the best year of his career in 2008. He also came to the plate 444 times, his highest at that point in his career.

Strauss gushed on Twitter that Westbrook  “Looks super trim.”, but it’s worth remembering that the Cardinals are not selling jeans. However, significant weight loss has helped at least a couple Cardinal stars in the past. And after Westbrook’s disappointing 2011 campaign,  chances are that it can’t hurt.

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