ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Tommy Pham’s bluntness could easily be resented in the St. Louis Cardinals clubhouse – but his performance in 2018 backed it up and his voice has instead become respected and praised by the Cardinals.
During the 2018 Winter Warm-Up his name was a close second, behind Marcell Ozuna, in terms of how often Cardinals players and coaches were asked about this year’s roster. Veterans and rookies alike were asked to describe what Pham provided in his 128 games with St. Louis, in 2017.
Adam Wainwright, the 10-year veteran and oldest member of the Cardinals roster told a story:
“Last year, Tommy stood up in the middle of the clubhouse one time and just started yelling at folks and guys are looking at me like, ‘Hey are you going to say something to stop him.’ And I was like, ‘Man, absolutely not. I love that about this guy.’ He’s 29-years-old or whatever he was, not even a year in the show and he’s got the stones to stand up and call out an entire big league clubhouse, full of a bunch of guys that are divas and go right at them – man I love that. He brings an attitude to our team that we need, that competitive drive that we need.”
Matt Carpenter, behind only Wainwright and Yadier Molina in years of service with St. Louis has known Pham since they were single-A teammates in 2009:
“He doesn’t really have a filter when he says what he says, but it’s just there’s no fake about him. He’s just truthful, he’s just going to tell you how he feels. And that’s always a good thing for a clubhouse to have a guy like that. But at the core of who Tommy is, he wants to work, he wants to win, he wants to play hard and he wants to compete. And from a teammate standpoint that’s all you can ask for.”
Luke Weaver, one of St. Louis’ most coveted pitching prospects at 24-years-old and will likely have a full season in majors in 2018:
“That guy means business, there’s no other way to put it. The way he dresses, the way he talks, the way he walks. I mean that’s Tommy Pham, I mean he’s like the- I mean Yadi is the Godfather, but Pham is going to closely follow that down the road. He’s just a great guy to have around, he’s just a special guy and yeah that’s contagious.”
Pham told his own story during his press conference at the 2018 Winter Warm-Up, it was about his 2012 season in double-A Springfield. He had surgery on his right labrum and played in just 12 games, but around that time he also learned of one his life’s most valuable stats.
A mentor of his told him that if you write something down, you’re 30-percent more likely to achieve it. That year he wrote down that he would be a 20-20 player (20 home run, 20 stolen bases in a single season) and have a more than .900 OPS in the big leagues.
He did both of those in 2017.
“I feel like a lot of people don’t believe anything I say. After I do it, it’s easier for me to be like, ‘I told you so,’” Pham says.
His WAR among outfielders in 2017 was fifth overall, according to FanGraphs (which Pham is an avid reader of). He was Cardinals MVP and even received enough NL MVP votes to finish 11th.
Now his next goal, he says, is to be a 30-30 player.
For added speed in 2018 Pham has been overspeed training:
He’s running 6-second intervals on a treadmill going 24 mph. He’s says that is improving his stride frequency and it’s the “No. 1 way to get me faster.” He says he wants to catch the three fastest players in the majors: Trea Turner of Washington, Billy Hamilton of Cincinnati and Bryon Buxton of Minnesota.
And he expects more improvement in his power at the plate.
“If you watch my swing I tend to leak forward a little bit, but I can get away with it because I’m more athletic than most hitters. Then with my finish, I’m a two-handed finisher then I cut off. If I can get two more clicks straight that’s going to help me get a little more drive on the ball.”