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Oscar Taveras and the End of the Worries

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The St. Louis uber-prospect now has nobody breathing down his neck for playing time. Could that take the pressure off and fix what has ailed him? Maybe.

Dilip Vishwanat

I don't typically love the "soft factors." You know, good chemistry drives wins, gritty guys are more valuable than talent. Basically, I wouldn't fit in with the Diamondbacks.

That said, sometimes the soft factors are the best explanations we have for things. I believe, for example, that the addition of Stephen Drew - and the subsequent move to third base - was a big part of why Xander Bogaerts went into the tank. And I think the departure of Stephen Drew will help Bogaerts get back to the good. Sometimes a position change, and indication someone else doesn't have confidence in you, it can seep into the game. Maybe. I don't know, but I'll concede that it makes sense.

Another place the soft factors come into play, maybe, as of Thursday is in St. Louis.

Look, I don't know why Oscar Taveras is hitting only .210/.238/.300 through 101 plate appearances. There are lots of possibilities:

  • His BABIP is down at .235, indicating some bad luck - it was always well over .300 in the minors. Bring that up to a reasonable number, and everything else rises accordingly.
  • He just might not be that good. We have seen any number of AAAA player who can tear up the minors but struggle in the bigs. It seems almost impossible Taveras could be that guy, but we don't know until we know, and it's too late.
  • He might be hurt. There's not been news of it, but stuff happens.
  • And, maybe the most optimistic of the possibilities - he might have been looking over his shoulder.

Taveras was called up earlier in the year when Matt Adams got hurt, meaning Allen Craig would play first while Taveras played right field. Once Adams got healthy, there was a problem - between Adams, Craig, Taveras, and Matt Holliday, they had four players for three spots. Taveras played almost every game in July, though seven of those were off the bench.

If you're Taveras, and you saw Kolten Wong get demoted after only a couple of weeks of slumping early in the season, and you saw Peter Bourjos lose playing time after about the same, wouldn't you worry? Allen Craig and Matt Adams are better big-leaguers than Mark Ellis and Jon Jay, the guys who replaced the other two; if you're Taveras, wouldn't you think prolonged struggles would mean you could lose your job any day?

And, if that's what you're worried about, wouldn't that affect your play?

I don't actually know the answers to these questions. I know the answer might be yes. I also know that Oscar Taveras was one of the best prospects in the minors for years running, and a player like that ought to be good. And I know that his biggest source of worry - Allen Craig - is now a member of the Boston Red Sox, traded Thursday along with Joe Kelly for John Lackey

Taveras is 28-percent owned in Yahoo! leagues. Based on his production so far, that makes sense. Heck, based on his production so far, that's too much by a factor of 10. But his pedigree speaks to a much better player. If there's anything to the over-his-shoulder, soft-factor stuff, we might be set for a rejuvenated Oscar Taveras in the last couple months of the season.

Heck, he homered Thursday.