5 Reasons To Love Kolten Wong
So far, Kolten Wong has appeared in just five games, but he’s already making his presence felt. It started off badly: hitless in his first nine at-bats before finally beating out an infield hit. He went 2-13 through four games (.154), and the Lunatic Fringe was already circling for the kill. Wong followed that with a breakout night last night, going 2-3 and stealing his third base. It’s probably not exactly the start Kolten wanted, but it’ll likely get much better.
Coupled with his excellent defense, it looks like the Cardinals have themselves a budding star who has the drive and work ethic to fulfill his great promise. Here are five things we love about our new-and-future second baseman:
1. GREAT NAME
Everybody’s been having a field day with Kolten’s last name. Two Wongs don’t make a right … If loving him is Wong, I don’t wanna be right … Ladies love the Wong ball. It goes on forever, and seemingly never gets tiresome (on second thought, I’m pretty sure Kolten gets tired of it). It’s a fun name, one that sounds just nasty enough without going overboard.
It’s too bad Ozzie Smith‘s #1 is retired; it’s easy to imagine the neverending giggles induced if Wong took over that number.
2. EASY ON THE EYES
Let’s face an economic truth about our “small market” team – women are a large and fanatical segment of the population supporting this franchise. When something appeals to the ladies, they tend to buy everything related to the object of their interest (see also: Justin Bieber). Remember all of the women who bought those ridiculous “Rally Squirrel” tee-shirts and ball caps in 2011? And how many David Freese jerseys have the Cardinals sold simply because Freese is hotter than a freshly-baked Imo’s pizza? *
So is it really a bad thing that your future second baseman looks like this?
Nope. It’s like a license to print money for this franchise.
Wong adds a mixed, exotic element to the Cardinals’ well-rounded boy-band portfolio. For the ladies, the team already showcases Midwestern country boys (Freese, Adam Wainwright, Trevor Rosenthal, Michael Wacha), muscle dudes (Matt Holliday), vaguely-dangerous Latino lotharios (Yadier Molina), strong, quiet types (Allen Craig, Carlos Beltran), frat boys (Daniel Descalso, Matt Carpenter, Kevin Siegrist), guys on the edge (Jason Motte, Edward Mujica, Lance Lynn), big booties (Jon Jay), and big bones (Matt Adams). Wong can be Mr. July in the Cardinal pin-up calendar.
3. HE’S HAWAIIAN
The Cardinals haven’t had a player on the roster who was born in Hawaii since 1980 (can you name him? Click here to find out!). What’s so great about that? Aside from the diversity he brings to the team, Wong also has that casual, laid-back surfer vibe I like to see in a player. I imagine growing up around surfers on an island paradise probably developed that in him. It means Wong isn’t likely to get rattled in pressure situations, and might be another calming influence on a team with a couple of high-strung personalities.
As long as Wong didn’t pack a Brady Bunch tiki idol for his trip to the big leagues, his Hawaiian heritage is cool with me.
4. HE’S FAST
Compared to the lumbering, orthopedically-challenged 2013 Cardinals, Wong looks like an Olympic runner. Wong’s smaller frame (he’s 5’9″ 185 lbs.) allows him to generate the kind of speed we haven’t seen on this team since Tyler Greene.
Wong isn’t timid like Greene, though; he’s more like a Hawaiian Vince Coleman. Wong really showed off his Coleman-like aggressiveness in Monday’s game against the Brewers, immediately turning two infield hits into doubles. I love that kind of cocky, taunting swagger on the bases.
Matheny tried to take advantage of Wong’s superior speed by batting him second in the lineup last night. It looked like a Whiteyball lineup, with slap hitters (Jay, Wong) hitting ahead of contact and power (Holliday, Beltran). Wong responded with three hits and another stolen base, but was left stranded by those batting around him. Still, Wong’s rise in the batting order shows how much his speed has already impressed the team.
5. HE CAN HIT!
How can you not love short players who make great contact?
We all remember the spark David Eckstein produced as a leadoff hitter. Thanks to his elfin stature, Eckstein had a strike zone the size of a cocktail napkin. Pitchers were forced to target a smaller area, where Eckstein would be waiting with his choked-up, slap-hitter stance. As a result, Eckstein had one of the lowest strikeout ratios in recent Cardinal history. He made Yadier Molina look like Adam Dunn.
Wong looks to have similar possibilities. With his stats projected out to a full season, Wong would strikeout about 70-80 times. That’s not exactly Eckstein territory (45-50 SO per year), but it’s as good as professional hitter/RBI machine Allen Craig. Wong makes contact, and has already shown a predilection for driving the ball down the opposite field line with a beautiful inside/out swing.
More than anything, it’s just refreshing to see a young, media-hyped position player emerge from our farm system and perform as well as advertised. It’s frustrating to see farm-developed players like Brendan Ryan, Tyler Greene, Pete Kozma, or Colby Rasmus arrive with much fanfare and promptly fizzle out. Is Wong for real? Time will tell the whole story, but, for now, there is a lot of Wong to love! **
* I’m just having a little fun, so please spare me any huffy, indignant rants. We should all learn to laugh at ourselves a little bit more.
** Great, now I’m guilty of a double entendre, too. So cheap and undignified!