In 2003, as a 12-year old from Hilo, Hawaii, Wong played in the Cal Ripken World Series, the first held in Aberdeen, Texas. Wong and his teammates captured the United States Championship, beating a West Linn, Oregon club, 5-3, behind Jeremy Crivello's two-run, walk-off home run. Wong was a utility player of sorts for the team managed by his father, Kaha Wong.
In 2008, Kolten graduated from Kamehameha-Hawaii High School in Kea'au, Hawaii. He played both baseball and football. He hit .660 as a senior, and never hit under .500 in his four high school years.
In 2008, the Twins chose Kolten in the 16th round of the draft, but chose a baseball scholarship to the University of Hawaii.
In 2010, Wong was the Cape Cod League MVP. He played for Orleans, finishing third in the league in batting average (.341), second in OBP (.426), fourth in slugging (.452), and tied for second in stolen bases (22). The second baseman also made just four errors in 145 chances (.972).
In 2011, Kolten hit .358/.449/.563 for the University of Hawaii.
When Wong left Busch Stadium after signing his contract and taking batting practice with the big league club in June, coach Jose Oquendo gave him a parting gift: a DVD of second basemen turning double plays.
"As soon as I got to (low Class A) Quad Cities and got my place set up, I watched it," Wong said. "I watched it every night. I wanted to figure it out. That first game, I hope I didn't just get taken out. I wanted to work on the things he put (on the DVD) so that wouldn't happen. I still watch it."
In both 2012 and 2013, Baseball America rated Wong as the 5th-best prospect in the Cardinals' organization. And he was at #3 in 2014.
Kolten's enthusiasm for the game provides a spark for his team. He is a baseball player, a hard-nosed player and baseball rat; and he is a pretty good athlete.
In 2013, Kolten's brother, Kean Wong, was drafted in the fourth round by the Tampa Bay Rays.
"That was awesome," Kolten Wong said. "I was sitting in the (Memphis) clubhouse, I had the phone on blast, listening to the draft. His name came up. I was really excited. I called my parents, they were excited. He's excited to get going."
And now, Too Much Information about Kolten Wong:
Full Name: Kolten Kaha Wong
Favorite Music Artists/Bands: Hawaiian Reggae
Favorite TV Shows: "The Voice"
Favorite Movies: "Billy Madison"
Last Movie I Saw At The Theater: "42"
Favorite Actor: Will Ferrell
Favorite Food: Hawaiian food
Music On My iPod: Everything
Most Embarrassing Song On My iPod: "Call Me Maybe" - Carly Rae Jepsen
Favorite Cartoon As A Kid: "Rocket Power"
Favorite MLB Team: St. Louis Cardinals
Last Book I Read: Francona: The Red Sox Years
If I Could Be Anyone Else In The World For One Day, It Would Be: Travis Pastrana
Person Who Taught Me The Most: Dad
Most Memorable Baseball Moment: Getting drafted by the Cardinals
My Welcome To Professional Baseball Moment Was: My first professional game (June 27, 2011 with the Quad Cities River Bandits)
My First Car Was: 2000 Ford F-150
My Dream Car Is: Lamborghini
I'm Afraid Of: Tornadoes
My BFF On The Team: "Big Jim" and "Ojos" (Jim Romak and Greg Garcia)
Hidden Talents: Very accurate with a blowdart gun
Favorite Video Game: "Sonic the Hedgehog"
Pet Peeves: People trying to tell me what to do
Advice For Kids Who Want To Play Professional Ball: Work hard!
Favorite Place To Visit In Memphis: Kooky Canuck because they've got great food
MLB Player I Model My Game After: Dustin Pedroia
Person I Would Most Like To Meet Outside Of The Baseball World: Bill Gates
On An Off Day, I: Love to relax by the pool
Favorite Baseball Player Growing Up: Ken Griffey Jr.
Best Part About Being A Ballplayer: Getting to play the game I love
Worst Part About Being A Ballplayer: The travel
Off-Season Activities To Relax: Fishing, hanging at the beach
Most Underrated Baseball Skill That Kids Should Learn: Stealing bases
The Most Famous Person In My Cell Phone Is: Shane Victorino
In 2013, the Cardinals named Wong as their Minor League Player of the Year.
In December 2013, Kolten's mother, Keala died after a lengthy battle with cancer.
He worked all winter before 2014 spring training with his father, a former minor leaguer who runs a batting cage, to maintain a short swing.
Standing near the Cardinals' bullpen in March 2013, his usual spot for his daily spring training morning meeting with the media, manager Mike Matheny stopped midsentence as he answered a question.
"Did you guys see that?" Cardinals manager Mike Matheny remarked. "Wong just stood there, flat-footed, and did a back flip. That was effortless."
Wong did it again for a larger audience, dazzling the new teammates who had not seen him demonstrate his agility in such a manner before. It's a trick he learned in college, when he attended "Free Jump Friday" classes at the gymnastics center where his fiancée's roommate worked. After six or seven visits and practice on trampolines and into foam pits, he mastered the move.
"It took some guts to finally buy into it," Wong said. "But that's the thing: You really have to buy into a back flip in order to land it."
Wong is hard on himself. "He just wears stuff hard," Matheny said. "He doesn't let stuff. That's the kind of player he is. It will evolve over time."
That all starts with Wong finding a way to channel the self-assurance that he shows when doing the back flip. "Basically, I can almost do it on command," he said. "I'm that confident with it" . . . and take that confidence with him everywhere else. (Langosch - mlb.com - 3/11/14)
Wong was an All-American and played on Team USA.
- January 2015: Wong has signed on as spokesman for Jamba Juice's fresh squeezed juice line.
"Jamba Juice has always been a part of my daily workout routine, so advocating the health and performance benefits of their new fresh-squeezed juice is more than just a business deal for me," said Wong in a company press release.
Greg Garcia arrived on the University of Hawaii campus by way of Southern California, where, as a junior, he received a mailing from a Hawaii baseball program that he didn't even know existed. Curiosity led him to do an Internet search, at which time he discovered that not only was there a program, but a thriving one. The team had just enjoyed a 45-win season in 2006 that featured an NCAA Regional invite and a swell of local support. Kolten Wong knew all of that already, having long followed the team that played just an island hop away from his home on Hawaii's Big Island. And he was known, too.
Once Garcia enrolled at Hawaii, it didn't take him long to start hearing the legend of the high-school star from Hilo who had given his verbal commitment to join the Hawaii baseball team a year later. Before actually meeting his future college, Minor League and Major League teammate, Garcia saw the gaudy numbers Wong put up in his senior season and heard what he could do on the football field.
Wong's decision to bypass pro ball after high school led him to become teammates and "fast friends" with Garcia. They played alongside each other for the first time in 2009, the first of now six seasons in which they have been on the same team. It is a journey that wasn't lost on either infielder amid the Cardinals' 2015 National League Central clinching celebration, then going off to the post-season.
The odds are especially long for a pair of undersized infielders out of a Hawaii baseball program that isn't exactly known for producing a bevy of big league talent.
"Those are two great ambassadors and representatives for our program, not just because they are playing on the highest stage of baseball, but because, if you spend five minutes with them, you realize what quality people they are," said Mike Trapasso, a St. Louis native who has been Hawaii's head coach since 2002.
Wong described Garcia as "like my big brother" when he arrived on campus. Garcia helped Wong assimilate to college life, and Wong returned the favor by showing Garcia some hidden spots and swimming holes around the island. They became instantly close off the field and admirers of each other's' game on it.
"[He was a] super high-intensity guy who loved trying to get a team going no matter what the circumstances were," Wong said of Garcia, who played primarily at short during college. "He was a good all-around player."
"He was special from Day 1," Garcia said of Wong, who filled a void in center field his freshman year. "He had that aura about him and that aggressive swing. Everybody knew that he could hit and would be a great player. But he also came in ready to work. That was also pretty cool because a guy that talented, sometimes they just come in and think they already know everything."
Wong and Garcia became middle-infield partners in 2010 and were then split up when Garcia was drafted by the Cardinals. During his first year in the Cardinals' system, he started being asked about the 5-foot-9 second baseman he had played with in college. It was part of the pre-draft prep work the Cardinals did before making Wong their first-round selection in 2011.
Knowing each other better than most Major League teammates do, Wong and Garcia have a constant exchange of ideas. They know what to look for in each other's swing and approach, understand what to say or not say when things aren't going well and value each other's perspective on the mental part of the game. The trust between the two is true and unique.
"It's been just a really, really good friendship," added Garcia. "It's kind of come full circle. Oh, and I'm glad I was nice to him in college because he really takes good care of me now." (Jenifer Langosch - MLB.com. - Oct. 7, 2015)
After his first two years with the Cardinals, 2014 and 2015, it appeared that Wong was going to be a 20-20 guy—20 homers and 20 steals. But since then, he has not had 20 homers OR 20 steals in a year. (2018)
When the Cardinals signed Kolten to a five-year, $25 million extension in 2016, they hoped the financial certainty would allow the second baseman to take a more relaxed approach to the game. A month into the 2016 season, however, Wong was still finding himself fighting the tendency to stew over the missed opportunities more than he celebrates the success.
It's an issue Wong revisited as the lack of any extra-base hits began to wear on him. He finally tallied his first on May 2—a solo home run in his 60th season at-bat—and has looked more comfortable at the plate since. A clearer mind, Wong said, has helped.
"Just coming in with a more positive attitude and understanding that things are going to change eventually helped," Wong said. "I have to go out there and put good at-bats together, regardless of if it's going to lead to a walk or a hit. As long as I'm taking the positives out of things, that's what's going to help me change."
Defining success without tying it to results has been freeing for Wong, who has showcased a more disciplined approach since that home run. In his next game, he worked a 12-pitch at-bat against Aaron Nola, who otherwise dominated the Cardinals. The following day, it was the seven-pitch walk Wong drew to open the ninth that sparked the club's game-winning rally.
"Kolten's at-bats in those few games looked significantly better," manager Mike Matheny said. "He looks like he's in a good place. We just have to try and keep building on that."
As much as the Cardinals have encouraged Wong to let his buoyant personality override the stress induced by trying so hard to succeed, Wong has found that his wife, Alissa, tends to put things in perspective best. She did so again recently at a time when Wong was seeing his starting opportunities shrink along with his batting average.
"She said, 'Why are you allowing this game to make you so mad?'" Wong said. "When I thought about it more, I did wonder. I'm blessed to be doing this in the first place. I can't expect myself to be perfect all the time. I can't expect myself to be superman.
"Now, instead of being the guy who goes 4-for-5 and looks at the one at-bat that got out and get [mad] at it, if I go 0-for-3 and I line out once and get a walk, I need to be happy because I put together some good at-bats. I think that's going to be the biggest change for me. Until you learn how to embrace the failure and embrace the struggles, you're never going to understand how to get out of it." (Langosch - MLB.com - 5/5/16)
Aug 18, 2017: Kolten Wong may have put Hilo, Hawaii, on the baseball map with his ascension to the Majors in 2013, but the largest city on what is commonly referred to as the Big Island is making its mark on the youth baseball circuit, as well. Hilo recently won the Senior Baseball Division Championship of the 2017 Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) World Series to earn the city's first title in the 25-year history of that tournament. Meanwhile, Hilo's PONY League team (11-12-year-old division) captured its fourth state title in the last five seasons, and Hilo's Little League team secured its first state Majors championship in 30 years.
That Little League team went on to advance to the semifinals of the West Regional, where it lost to a team from Santa Margarita (Calif.). Two more wins would have put the group in the Little League World Series, where players would have gotten an opportunity to meet Wong in Williamsport, Pa., when the Cardinals and Pirates play in the Little League Classic.
"I wanted them to be there so badly just to be able to see those guys and be able to cheer them on and see Hilo back in the World Series [for the first time since 1961]," said Wong, who tuned into that semifinal game. "I was hoping things would go differently."
Wong, who is the third Hilo-born player to reach the Majors, has had an intimate view of the town's growing baseball tradition. His father, Kaha, still runs a hitting facility in Hilo, where he works with many of the area's youth players. And Wong is so close to Hilo's current Little League coach, Bubba Lancaster, that he refers to him as "like another dad to me."
Wong noted, too, that for many kids in Hilo, baseball is more than just a recreational activity. It can also open up doors.
"In Hawaii, that's always been my dad's main goal—to get these kids off [the island] and get them some kind of education and hopefully let them try to chase their dream of baseball as well," Wong said. "That was my goal growing up. I wanted to see how I could go and worst case, I would be able to use baseball to get to college and then be able to get a good job. It's one of those islands that if you don't do anything, you kind of just stay stagnant and stuck on the island. In Hawaii, because we're bound to that little rock, it's hard to get off."
Wong serves as the example of just how far baseball can take a kid away from Hilo, and he recognizes his role in serving as an ambassador for the sport in his hometown. When he visits in the offseason, Wong will spend time at his dad's hitting facility, talking to children and sharing the story of his journey.
"I play this game for that reason—to show these kids back home that if you put your mind to it and you work hard that eventually things can go your way and you can chase your dream," Wong said. "I've always, since I was a little kid, thought this was something I wanted to do and wanted to pursue until my time ran out. And thankfully, it hasn't run out yet." (J Langosch - MLB.com - Aug 19, 2017)
Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday night in the spring of 2018, Kolten assembled a tripod and, just before bed, he called Hawaii. It's the middle of the afternoon in Hawaii, where a man named Scoop Slyman answers to talk Wong through his newest obsession—strength yoga.
Wong went into the winter of 2017 looking to improve his flexibility after back and shoulder injuries somewhat sullied what was a career year in 2017. That led Wong to Slyman, who trained Wong's wife, Alissa, as a track and field athlete at the University of Hawaii.
Slyman carved out a specific plan for Wong he calls "strength yoga" that the Cardinals infielder plans to continue throughout the 2018 season. "Back, elbows, shoulders, I didn't have the flexibility in those areas. I didn't have good range," Wong said. "It's constantly making me feel better."
In Wong's mind, he's better off. A self-described "high-intensity guy," Wong credits yoga for reshaping his body and priorities. Focusing only on strength in the past, Wong said, led to injuries. His focus now is on being limber, durable and at peace with his play.
"The biggest thing is the mental side of yoga," Wong said. "Even though it hurts like [crazy], being able to hold it with grace and understanding if you just breathe, it's going to feel better in the end. I started taking that into the mental aspect of baseball. Understanding slumps and all these things are going to happen. I have to breathe and let things take their course." (Trezza - mlb.com - 2/20/18)
May 11, 2018: From the outside looking in, it would've been easy to think a young Kolten Wong faced his biggest obstacles on the field. Wong received harsh criticism as a 22-year-old rookie in 2013, after his first taste of the big leagues ended in unceremonious fashion. Pinch-running with St. Louis down two runs in the ninth inning, Wong was picked off to end Game 4 of a World Series the Cardinals would eventually lose in six to the Red Sox. His baserunning snafu became one of the series' indelible moments.
"That was nothing compared to what I had to deal with that offseason," Wong says. And back home in Hawaii, the challenges were bigger than baseball. Wong's mother, Keala, had recovered enough during a long battle with cancer to travel to St. Louis to see her son play in the World Series. But that winter, her condition worsened. Her death sent the young second baseman into an emotional spiral that he's fought for the majority of his MLB career.
Wong recounted the journey, choking back tears in a powerful video story for The Players Tribune. Major League teams will celebrate Mother's Day across the baseball world on Sunday. Few players have a more heart-wrenching story than Wong.
"She told me to continue to play my game: 'Don't worry about the pickoff. Go out and have fun,'" Wong says in the piece. "She was basically telling me what I need to do for the rest of my life, in a few words. Going through that, and losing her at that time, it rocked me."
Now one of the top defensive second basemen in baseball, Wong pays tribute to his mother every day with an elaborate and intricate arm tattoo. He said he felt her presence an October after his infamous baserunning mistake, when he won Game 2 of the 2014 NLCS with a walk-off home run against the Giants.
"That was one of those when you hit and it and you think, 'OK. I know you're still there,'" Wong told the Tribune. "If there is anybody out there in similar situations, know things get easier. They don't get better. They get easier. Eventually, you find a purpose." (J Trezza - MLB.com - May 11, 2018)
Wong was a 2018 Fielding Bible Award winner.
When Kolten was a youngster he says his favorite things to do was: "Anything at the ocean. Fishing, spear-fishing, swimming. I started spear-fishing when I was 12, or so," Wong said.
He says he is a home-body, preferring to stay home with his wife, Alissa.
"I dread going out to clubs," Wong said.
If I'm cooking dinner: "Poke, a Hawaiian dish with diced raw fish marinated with various sauces and seasonings."
Favorite sports broadcaster: "Vin Scully," Kolten said. "Dodgers games were always on in Hawaii."
2020 Spring Training: When Kolten Wong started designing his 2019 glove that would finally snag him the award he’s been reaching for the past several seasons, he stuck with the “blood red” color of previous years and the yellow piping that added to its Cardinals-like look, but added a new color, one he couldn’t help but see looking down at the glove.
The backs of the gloves fingers were a grey carbon material – lighter than the leather and offering a splash of pewter to the rich red of the rest of the glove.
“Represented coming in second place to me,” he said.
He even gave the glove a name.
He calls this year’s, “Blood, Sweat, and Tears.”
“I always try to have some kind of theme behind my glove every year,” Wong explained Friday morning after taking infield with coach Jose Oquendo at the team’s spring training complex. “I think of all the hard work that I’ve put in and finally to get to this point, to win the Gold Glove Award, the hard work has paid off. I’ve been thinking about this design for a while, and now it’s time to break it out.”
The majority of the glove remains the red (“blood”) that fits with the dominant color of his team’s uniform. This year, he’s borrowed from the Cardinals’ “victory blue” alternate jerseys and added the blue (“tears”) for the back of the glove and the webbing. The “sweat” is the gold. Where once there was yellow piping, Wong now has glistening gold. Where once there was the standard-issue red Rawlings patch, Wong now has the gold Rawlings patch. He earned it. Only Gold Glove winners can have that patch affixed to their Rawlings glove and gear.
Along the thumb – where Wong has in previous years stitched “Aloha” or a Bible verse – he has, in gold script, “Hawaiian Style.”
“I feel like last year I really fell into my own as a defender,” Wong said. “I always told myself to do it my way, to do it my style. That’s what that says. That’s me, the way I play. At the beginning of my career I think I was nervous, nervous about making mistakes. I knew my window of playing was real limited and I had to impress. So I was always trying to do the right things and put pressure on myself to make the routine plays. When I started doing that, I made all those errors, made all those mistakes. I got caught up in the mental aspect of that instead of just playing my game, trusting myself.”
The evolution of Wong’s fielding has matched the changing style of is glove.
A devotee of Rawlings, the St. Louis-based company that invented the Gold Glove Award and has recently been acquired by Major League Baseball, Wong uses one glove a year as his “gamer.” He got his new one in early December and it’s almost game-ready as he readies for spring training. He’s been using it in drills during the informal workouts he and his teammates have had at the Roger Dean Stadium complex since late January, when he relocated to Florida.
The glove is an 11 ½-inch glove for infielders, and he prefers Heart of the Hide leather. In 2016, he shifted to the “V-web” for the pocket of his glove, moving on from the “I-web” that many infielders use. That glove – his “blood red” glove, he called it – was all red with black laces and black stitching. His number, 16, was in black. He’s added color over time and, as he grew into an elite defender, some nod to the trophy he was chasing – and now has.
This season, that No. 16 at the glove's thumb is stitched in gold.
Wong, who is entering the final guaranteed year of his contract, led all second basemen with a plus-18 fielding plus/minus, according to Bill James Online. He was a plus-26 in 2018 when he finished runnerup in the Gold Glove voting, and over the past two seasons no second basemen comes close to his leading plus-44. (D.J. LeMahieu is second at plus-27.) Wong had 14 Defensive Runs Saved in 2019, and he led his position for the second consecutive year. He has 33 Defensive Runs Saved since the start of 2018.
This offseason, Baseball Savant at MLB.com unleashed a new defensive metric: “Outs Above Average.” Wong ranked alongside the best infielders in the majors, and his plus-10 Outs Above Average was second at second, behind only Adam Frazier’s plus-12.
Although only Wong won, the Cardinals had six finalists for the Gold Glove, including center fielder Harrison Bader, pitcher Jack Flaherty, and shortstop Paul DeJong. Past winners of the defensive award, catcher Yadier Molina and first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, were also finalists. Each of them is eligible as a past winner to have the gold Rawlings patch on the wrist of the glove, and before shifting to Team Jordan gear Molina even had the gold Rawlings patch on his chest protector, right over his breastbone.
Wong beamed when asked about unpacking his new glove – “Blood, Sweat and Tears” – and seeing the gold patch for the first time. (Derrick Goold - Feb. 8, 2020)
May 10, 2020: ESPN producer Patrick Truby asked on Twitter: Who is the “coolest” person in baseball? That’s the sort of question during these sad days without live Major League Baseball that gets our engines motoring over here. That’ll continue to fill the days.
So, today, we take a look at the Cardinals “coolest” player. That is, of course, a vague concept, “cooler,” so we’ll just give you our definition of it: When an 8-year-old is pretending to be his favorite player on his favorite team out on the diamond, which player is he pretending to be? That’s how we’ll define it. And here are our picks.
Cardinals: Kolten Wong, 2B -- A team that’s not exactly known for its hipness has a firecracker of a second baseman in Wong. He somehow makes playing second base look cool. (Will Leitch)
2020 Season: Wong won his first Gold Glove award in 2019, and this past season, when the award was based entirely on advanced metrics, he was one of the best fielders in the NL and won a second consecutive Gold Glove. He was in the running for the Platinum Glove given to the best fielder at any position and won by Arenado, for the fourth consecutive year. While working with Jose Oquendo and the Cardinals to become an elite infielder, Wong also adjusted at the plate and earned a chance to be the Cardinals’ leadoff hitter in 2020. The past two seasons the Hawaii native has hit .279/.358/.396. (Derrick Goold - Feb. 3, 2021)
Kolten, the new Brewers second baseman, is a candidate for the injured list after aggravating a nagging left oblique strain during an emotional return to Busch Stadium. “This is an injury that I really was not trying to have right now,” Wong said.
Wong was back atop Milwaukee’s order against his former team for the Cardinals' home opener, and he teared up when catcher Yadier Molina stepped in front of home plate so that fans could deliver Wong a standing ovation.
St. Louis pitcher Adam Wainwright walked him on four pitches in his first at bat -- “I could barely see,” Wong said -- and he was still feeling healthy when he flew out in the second. But in his third at-bat, Wong said he felt his oblique “grab on me big time” as he struck out against one of Wainwright’s signature curveballs. When Wong batted in the seventh against reliever Andrew Miller, “I could barely even swing the bat.” (McCalvy - mlb.com - 4/8/2021)
June 2011: The Cardinals picked Wong with their first round pick, the 22nd player chosen overall. And Wong signed with the Cards, via scout Matt Swanson, for a reported bonus of $1.3 million.
March 2, 2016: Wong and the Cardinals agreed on a five-year extension that will pay $25.5 million.
Oct. 28, 2020: Wong became a free agent, with the Cards initiating his $1 million buyout. The Cardinals declined Wong’s $12.5 million option for the 2021 season.
- Feb. 3, 2021: Kolten Wong agreed to terms on a multi-year deal with the Milwaukee Brewers. The deal is for two-year, $18 million with a club option that could push the value to $26 million over three years.
|DOB:||10/10/1990||Agent:||PSI Sports Mgmt.|
|Birth City:||Hilo, HI|
|Draft:||Cardinals #1 - 2011 - Out of Univ. of Hawaii|
Wong has a beautiful, but vicious lefthanded swing that is compact to deliver sharp contact. He has some power for homers—probably 10-15 a year. And he drives the ball to the opposite field well. He has a very clean line-drive stroke and makes good, hard contact. So he should hit .280 in the Majors.
During the 2019 season, Kolten pulled off the impressive feat of changing his swing during the season without skipping a beat. Where once he employed a high leg kick for added thump, now he barely lifts his front toe when he swings. He says he ditched the leg kick on two-strike counts and against some hard-throwing lefties earlier in the season.
By early September, he felt comfortable enough to drop the kick completely, at least for the time being.
"I can control my weight shift more than ever, which allows me to let the ball travel deeper and keep my weight on the backside," Wong says. "My hands work more freely and my two-strike at-bats have been a lot better." (Cardinals Magazine - Sept., 2019)
Kolten is a very good bunter, push or drag bunt. He is also good at the hit-and-run. He is an intelligent situational hitter.
He fits well as a #2 hitter in the lineup. He can take a pitch and move a runner along.
He controls the strike zone well. He has a professional slash-and-dash approach at the plate and a good eye that makes for steady on-base skills. He is a patient hitter who doesn't strike out much, but walks a good amount of time.
So Wong can hit leadoff, working pretty well at working counts. He understands how pitchers are attacking him. He has solid plate discipline.
- What Wong lacks in size, he makes up for in tools, with his hitting ability standing out the most.
- With a compact lefthanded swing and good bat speed, Kolten profiles as an above average hitter who can spray line drives from foul pole to foul pole. He uncoils to generate line shots.
Kolten has sometimes batted leadoff.
"Kolten's got a nice approach at the plate," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "Real short swing, real quick hands. He's learning."
- March 4, 2014: Wong seems to favor his pull side, but he is capable of taking an outside pitch to the opposite field. He has a compact swing and a good feel for the game in general, and hitting in particular. He is not known for his power, but Wong can flash some pop on occasion
- June 3, 2014: Kolten's first career homer was a grand slam.
In 2014, Wong tied Shane Victorino for the most homers in a single postseason by a Hawaiian-born player.
- Feb 3, 2021: Wong is a left-handed hitter well known to Brewers fans following eight seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals. He slashed .261/.333/.384 in a Cardinals uniform, topped out at 108 weighted runs created plus in 2017 and ’19, and was a Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner in each of the past two seasons.
Some of Wong’s best work was against the Brewers. His .781 OPS against Milwaukee was tops against a National League Central opponent, and Wong’s .855 OPS at American Family Field (formerly Miller Park) is his best figure at any Major League stadium in which he’s logged at least 50 plate appearances.
- As of the start of the 2021 season, Wong had a career average of .261 with 53 home runs and 281 RBI in 2,697 at-bats.
Kolten plays a very good second base, where he has solid range and a strong arm with good footwork. He is a reliable defender. He uses his instincts to position himself well, making the most of his decent range.
Wong is a gritty, nose-in-the-dirt player.
When Wong left Busch Stadium after signing his contract with the Cards and taking batting practice with the big league club in June 2011, coach Jose Oquendo gave him a parting gift: a DVD of second basemen turning double plays.
"As soon as I got to (low Class A) Quad Cities and got my place set up, I watched it," Wong said. "I watched it every night. I wanted to figure it out. That first game, I hope I didn't just get taken out. I wanted to work on the things he put (on the DVD) so that wouldn't happen. I still watch it."
During that visit at Busch, Wong spent time with Oquendo in the field. The Cardinals' third-base coach and longtime utility infielder worried that Wong put himself in position to get mulched by a runner. His pivot was pure college ball. The fact that he could get upended by an oncoming runner preoccupied him as he started games with Quad Cities. But with Oquendo's instruction, the DVD, and the guidance of minor league instructors Johnny Rodriguez and Mark DeJohn, Wong got more comfortable with a different turn. His footwork improved, and by the end evaluators viewed him as more than an average fielder.
In 2015, Kolten put a greater emphasis on his defensive preparation, largely because he no longer feels burdened by his offensive numbers. Among his greatest improvements: positioning. He has dedicated more time to study hitters' trends and better understands how pitch selection affects where he should stand.
Wong often joins a mound conference with Yadier Molina. If he knows what pitch Molina intends to call, he has a better chance of being in the right place at the right time.
In 2016, Wong played 18 games in the outfield for the Cardinals.
2019 Fielding Bible Award winner: Wong was a unanimous choice at his position for the second straight year. He led all second basemen in Defensive Runs Saved, with 14.
Nov. 3, 2019: Wong won the 2019 Rawlings Gold Glove Award for 2nd base in the NL.
Nov 6, 2019: Wong is a first-time honoree after leading MLB second basemen with 14 Defensive Runs Saved. He adds the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year trophy to the NL Gold Glove Award he just won, also for the first time.
- May 22, 2020: Who has the best glove on the Cards? Kolten Wong:
The Cardinals boasted one of the best defenses in baseball in 2019, so there are plenty of worthy candidates for this tool. But if we’re evaluating all fielding aspects other than the player’s arm strength, second baseman Wong is at the top of the list. The Gold Glove Award winner has a highlight reel of plays that showcase his quickness, range, instincts and general athletic ability that allow him to make elite defensive plays in the field.
Wong and shortstop Paul DeJong, who also can be considered for best glove on the team, make an effective double-play pairing, too. According to FanGraphs, Wong had 19 defensive runs saved last season, 10th in the Majors and tops among second basemen, and a 5.2 ultimate zone rating, which was first among second basemen in baseball.
In the three seasons for which Statcast has outs above average data for infielders, Wong ranks in the top 10 for outs above average (20) and runs prevented (15), and he’s just one of two second basemen in the top 10. -- Anne Rogers
- 2020 Season Key Stat: Wong has a career 16.7 bWAR in eight years as a Cardinal.
- Nov. 4, 2020: Wong won his second straight Gold Glove Award. Kolten Wong had another strong year at the keystone amassing 6 defensive runs saved in just under 400 innings in the field. He had 59 putouts and 129 assists on the season and was involved in 29 double plays, starting 14 of those and committed only two errors on the season — one fielding and one throwing. This amounted to a .989 fielding percentage. In addition to being steady on routine plays he also made 29 out of zone plays.
- Kolten is a very fast, and a very daring baserunner. He knows how to use his above average speed on the bases, displaying good instincts.
- Wong is fearless on the bases. He is a heady, aggressive baserunner.
- During the offseason before 2013 Spring Training, Kolten sought out advice and training methods to improve his base-stealing He talked with Billy Hamilton, the minor league man of steal. He discussed base-stealing with Lou Brock at spring training, and he went to work with the track team at Hawaii.
“You always see those guys off the blocks. They have that first couple real explosive steps and then they kind of spread it out,” Wong said. “With us running such a short distance you get those three or four explosive steps and you only have a couple more to go.”
August 20, 2013: Wong became the first player to record two hits and two stolen bases in one of his first four MLB games since the D-backs' Trent Oeltjen did it in his Major League debut at Pittsburgh on Aug. 6, 2009. Four other modern-era players have done this in a Cardinals uniform: Shea Donahue (in his first game in 1904), Joe Delahanty (first game in 2007), Vince Coleman (fourth game in 1985), and John Morris (second game in 1986).
"He brings a speed element," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "He brings just a lot of energy and excitement. That's what a young player's supposed to do. We talked about that with some of the other young guys that have come up here. They've got a lot to prove, and want to show what they can do and contribute."
August 11-28, 2011: Wong was on the D.L. with a strained hamstring.
June 21-July 6, 2014: Wong was on the 15-day D.L. with left shoulder soreness.
- July 7, 2015: Wong, who had made defensive gems in three straight games, hit his head hard as he fell after making a leaping catch in shallow right field to end the fifth. He was slow to get up and felt dizzy while walking off the field alongside Cardinals assistant athletic trainer Chris Conroy. Wong remained in the game, struck out in a sixth-inning at-bat, and played another half-inning in the field before being pulled as a headache intensified.
"I hit right on the side of my head and landed right on my face," Wong said. "It threw me back a little bit. I was a little dizzy. As the game progressed, my headache got worse and worse and so they brought me in. I had a headache the whole time, and it's still lingering a little bit."
Manager Mike Matheny clarified that doctors found signs of a concussion. "We're going to have to watch this real close," said Matheny, whose playing career ended due to concussions. "We'll take another look and have to be real careful with him." (Langosch - mlb.com)
May 27, 2017: Wong was on the DL with left elbow strain.
May 30-June 9, 2017: An MRI revealed Wong had a strained tendon in his left elbow but no structural damage.
June 15-July 10, 2017: Wong was on the DL with right tricep strain.
July 22-Aug 4, 2018: Wong was on the DL with left knee inflammation.
Aug 26-Sept 5, 2018: Wong was on the DL with left hammy strain.
Aug 26, 2019: Kolten Wong traveled with the Cardinals to Milwaukee but was held out of the starting lineup for the series opener against the Brewers, still sore after fouling a pitch off his right foot against the Rockies.
"He's getting there," Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. "I talked to him a little bit, and it looks like he's going to be a bit of a warrior," Shildt said. "I know he's in some pain. We'll evaluate him and take it day by day."
Sept 20, 2019: Wong underwent an MRI exam on his left hamstring, which he strained before exiting the 5-4 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
Cardinals manager Mike Shildt didn’t know the results of the scan. Once the results surface, the severity of the strain and Wong’s timetable will be better known. The initial diagnosis was a mild tear in the muscle, and Wong is not expected to play the next couple of days as the Cardinals await details on the extent of the injury.
“The favorable news is, he experienced a restful night’s sleep, didn’t experience any big cramping or unusual discomfort,” Shildt said.
Sept 23, 2019: After being diagnosed with a Grade 2 hamstring strain, Wong said that he hopes to make it back to the lineup soon. (Editor's note: Wong was ready for the playoffs.)
April 8, 2021: New Brewers second baseman Kolten Wong is a candidate for the injured list after aggravating a nagging left oblique strain during an emotional return to Busch Stadium. in his third at-bat, Wong said he felt his oblique “grab on me big time” as he struck out against one of Wainwright’s signature curveballs.
“This is an injury that I really was not trying to have right now,” Wong said.
April 10-23, 2021: Wong was placed on the injured list with a left oblique strain.
June 4-18, 2021: Wong was on the IL with a strained left oblique
- July 2-16, 2021: Wong was on the IL with left calf tightness.