08/02/2004 3:59 PM ET
Edmonds the NL's best in July
St. Louis center fielder dominant at bat, in the field
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com
It's tough to stand out on the National League's best offensive team, but Jim Edmonds did so in impressive fashion this past month.
|Jim Edmonds closed out the month of July on an 11-for-19 tear. (Al Behrman/AP)
Edmonds was named the NL Player of the Month after batting .381 with a .475 on-base percentage and a preposterous .952 slugging percentage in July. He led the loop with 13 home runs and 27 runs scored, and tied Colorado's Jeromy Burnitz with 27 RBIs.
The six-time Gold Glover also played his usual exceptional defense, highlighted by a spectacular over-the-wall catch to rob Jason LaRue of a homer in Cincinnati on July 16.
"He had a great month," said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa. "It's hard to do better than that."
Entering the month, there was some perception that Edmonds was having something of a down year, but he eliminated those notions by terrorizing pitchers for 31 days. He enjoyed 11 multi-hit games, and reached base by hit or walk in every game he played in July.
It was quite a day of awards for St. Louis' No. 5 hitter, who earlier in the afternoon shared Bank of America Presents the National League Co-Players of the Week honors with Braves closer John Smoltz. For the week of July 26-Aug. 1, Edmonds led the NL with a .591 average, 13 hits, 10 runs, 31 total bases, an on-base percentage of .654 and a slugging percentage of 1.409.
His hot week helped the Cardinals enjoy a 5-1 road trip through Cincinnati and San Francisco.
Edmonds has consistently downplayed his midseason outburst, constantly mindful of the fact that things can always turn around. In general, he is loath to discuss the peaks and valleys in his performance over the course of the year.
"You struggle at times, you get hot at times and you just try to play the game for six months," he said.
"It's tough to be consistent for six months. I think if you get too carried away with your stats and the way that you're playing at any given time, it's gonna come up and bite you in the [behind]. I've been doing OK not thinking about it and not worrying about it, so that's the way I'm gonna keep approaching it."
Nonetheless, there's no denying his impact on the St. Louis offense. With Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen both enjoying MVP-caliber seasons, Edmonds gives the Redbirds three frightening threats in the middle of the order. The Cardinals averaged exactly six runs per game for the month, second only to the Rockies, and went 20-5 to build a huge lead in the NL Central division.
Last season, Edmonds aggravated a shoulder injury at the Home Run Derby, and his production tailed off after an All-Star first half. This time, after a somewhat slow first half, it appears he's poised to help carry his team into the postseason.
"I wasn't really excited about the first half of the season, but I didn't really get worried that I wasn't gonna be able to play again," he said. "I just kept playing the game and we were winning so that made the game still fun."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.