Edman models his game after Elvis Andrus and Francisco Lindor, because both players do a great job of hitting for average and getting on base while being extremely reliable defenders at shortstop.
Proir to college he attended La Jolla Country Day High School.
Tommy attended Stanford University where he played baseball and was an Academic all-American who majored in math and computer science. Edman started three years at Stanford and finished his junior year batting third for the Cardinals despite his 5-foot-10, 180 pound frame.
June 2016: Edman was drafted by the Cardinals in the 6th round, out of Stanford. He signed for a $236,400 bonus via scout Zach Mortimer.
In 2018, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Tommy as the 29th-best prospect in the Cardinals system. They moved Edman all the way up to #12 in the winter before 2019 spring training.
2019 season: The triple slash line almost speaks for itself; .304/.350/.500, the kind of production where every number would be nice enough on its own. Underneath the surface, and not that far below, there’s cause for concern, however. A .350 OBP is certainly good, but it should worry you that it’s so close to his batting average. Edman walked only 4.6% of the time, and while his strikeout rate wasn’t horrible either, there’s no floor to his game from getting on base.
In fact, the vast majority of his OBP prowess was driven by BABIP. That’s not disqualifying, of course; plenty of players spray line drives and run quickly, using those two building blocks to sustain a high average. Lorenzo Cain is a great example; he has a career .339 BABIP, which works out to a solid .288 batting average. But if this skillset isn’t impossible, it certainly isn’t likely.
Think of it this way. There were 21 batters who qualified for the batting title in 2018 and 2019 and also had a BABIP of .330 or above in 2018. They averaged a .350 BABIP in 2018, right around Edman’s, and .324 in 2019. This population isn’t representative — it’s actually overly kind to players like Edman, because batters who start slowly are less likely to get enough playing time to qualify. Scooter Gennett, for example, had a .358 BABIP in 2018 on his way to a wild 4.5 WAR season. In 2019, he was below replacement level and hurt all year. He put up a BABIP of .304. (Ben Clemens - Nov 9, 2019 - SBNation)
Edman is the son of John Edman, Jr. and Maureen Kwak. His father John played four years of college baseball at Williams College in Massachusetts. He is a teacher and varsity baseball coach at La Jolla Country Day School, Edman's alma mater.
Edman's older brother, John, works in Baseball Research & Development for the Minnesota Twins. Tommy's sister, Elise, plays volleyball at Davidson College.
November 23, 2019: Edman and his fiancé, Kristen were married. The couple had originally planned the wedding for October 5, but were forced to reschedule due to the Cardinal's participation in the 2019 National League Division Series.
Jan 24, 2020: During last year’s Cardinals Caravan and Winter Warm-Up, Tommy Edman was a relative unknown—not a top prospect, but close enough to the Majors that he could have a shot in 2019. Fast forward a year, and Edman will tell you of quite a different experience.
“Now I’m going on the Caravan, and I’m seeing people wearing these Edman shirts,” Edman at Winter Warm-Up, the Cardinals’ unofficial kickoff for the upcoming season. “It’s a pretty cool feeling seeing that many jerseys and shirts with my name on it.”
Going into 2020, fans and opponents know his name. If he can produce like he did for four months last season, Edman figures to be a key figure on the Cardinals’ roster once again. The question is where he’ll play. Even Edman doesn’t know. That’s the point. He knows he can do it all, and that’s what will make him so valuable on the roster.
“I’m sure it will be similar to last year, kind of moving all over the field,” Edman said. “Just got to be able to come into Spring Training and be ready to play all over the infield, maybe get a little outfield work in as well.”
Edman is a statistics guy, having graduated from Stanford with a degree in math and computational science. He said he doesn’t use those numbers to help him hit or field, but he understands the value they have in evaluating players. The best metric to measure his own value? Wins Above Replacement, he said.
“It combines all aspects of the game,” said Edman, whose 3.8 WAR last season ranked fourth on the Cardinals behind Jack Flaherty, Wong and Paul DeJong. “Combines hitting, baserunning and defense, and I think that’s one of the things that makes me so valuable as a player—to have the ability to impact the game in a variety of ways. WAR does a good job of including all aspects, kind of sums up the overall value.”
The Cardinals realize they can’t let Edman’s value sit on the bench this season. The front office has advertised Edman as an everyday player who won’t have a set position, moving anywhere from second base, third base, shortstop and the outfield. The Cubs did this with Ben Zobrist when they won it all in 2016; Zobrist played five positions over 147 games, and he had 523 at-bats.
Edman played five positions in 2019, including all three outfield spots. And in 2020 that number will likely rise to six as the Cardinals try to find an occasional day off for DeJong at shortstop. Edman said he’s going to bring three gloves to Spring Training—middle infield, third base, outfield. He joked about investing in a first baseman’s glove, too . . . just in case.
“I’ll just be prepared for pretty much anything,” Edman said. “I’m sure I’ll be playing pretty much everywhere on the field, hitting everywhere in the lineup, and it will obviously change day to day based on the needs. I think that’s one of the main sources of value for the team—my versatility and my ability to fill in wherever.”
Edman’s ability to play everywhere helps his chances of getting consistent at-bats in the starting lineup. He became comfortable with differentiating his offense and defense last year, so he said moving around the field won’t affect his hitting. It also helps that if injury or poor performance bumps someone from the lineup, Edman can be the player to step in. He did this last year at third base with Matt Carpenter, and when Wong strained his hamstring in September, Edman transitioned to second base mid-game. There were some days where Edman started at third base and found himself in the outfield to end the game.
“The best thing for our organization would be if he bounced around and played a lot of different positions,” general manager Michael Girsch said. “Because that would suggest that all the guys that are penciled in to play those positions are doing well.
“When you look back on Oct. 1 at his playing time, it will be some combination of opportunities that present themselves for him to have playing time. Ideally, he plays five different positions or six different positions and plays multiple times a week all over the place, because everyone is doing well.” (A Rogers - MLB.com - Jan 24, 2020)
May 9, 2020: Tommy Edman on his mom, Maureen on Mothers Day:
When Edman found out he was getting promoted last June, one of his first calls was to his parents. Excitement plentiful, they boarded a plane from San Diego to Chicago to see Edman make his debut at Wrigley Field. And when they found he’d be staying in the Majors past the series with the Cubs, they boarded a plane to New York to see Edman play the Mets a week later. That’s where one of Edman’s favorite memories about his mom, Maureen, took place.
On June 14, Edman laced his first Major League hit, a line-drive double to center field. It wasn’t just Edman who was excited about it.
“When you watch the video, you can hear her screaming,” Edman said. “ It’s faint because of the crowd, but if you listen really closely, you can hear her. That’s my favorite thing. She’s always been a really loud cheerer, but I’ve always appreciated that a lot.
“She’s one of my biggest fans, always has been and always will be.” –Anne Rogers
The history of baseball is full of family connections, but none quite like that of these three siblings unique to modern baseball: Tommy, the star athlete; Johnny, the engineer; and Elise, the athlete-turned-engineer. All three took different paths to get to this point. And within the last 15 months, all three debuted in the Majors—in their own way.
“It’s kind of crazy to think about,” Elise said. “And it all started with my dad because he has this unmatched love for baseball.”
“We want the kids to all do what they love, and do what they want, not what their parents would love for them to do,” added John Edman, the siblings’ father. “But it is really cool that they’re doing something that they love and that we, in one way or another or in a secondary capacity, get to enjoy what they’re doing. There aren’t many parents that get to watch their kids work.”
Tommy took to playing baseball early. He and Johnny would play what they called “alleyball” with their father when he got home from work—Wiffle ball in the alley behind their house in San Diego. From there, it progressed to Little League, then travel ball and high school, the latter two always coached by his father, who teaches math and coaches varsity baseball at La Jolla Country Day High School in San Diego.
John hoped to stay in baseball after his career ended as an infielder for Williams College in Massachusetts. He went to the University of Michigan for graduate school and was a volunteer assistant coach for the Wolverines. His wife, Maureen, grew up in Los Angeles listening to Vin Scully call Dodgers games. When the two married and had kids, activities centered around baseball because the parents enjoyed it so much. The Edmans moved to San Diego in 1999, and John figured out a way to put a batting cage in their backyard. Tommy and his father would practice swings or take ground balls back there for hours at a time.
A sixth-round draft pick out of Stanford in 2016, Tommy elbowed his way up the Cardinals' depth chart in the spring of 2019. He started the season at Triple-A Memphis, and in June of last year was promoted to the big league club and made his debut at Wrigley Field. He never went back to Memphis.
Tommy, 25, is an everyday player without an everyday position for the Cardinals, moving between the infield and outfield. All the while, his switch-hitting bat stays in the lineup. Ever since they drafted him and especially this past year, the Cardinals have been impressed with Tommy’s skill at adjusting to pitching and using analytics to do so—looking at spin rates, zone charts, pitching sequences. His swing was born working with his dad in their backyard and developed in the Cardinals system. As he ascended through the Minor Leagues, his family followed along.
The brother engineer
Johnny used to play in the infield, too, but his proudest achievement came when he pitched four scoreless innings for his high school’s junior varsity team. He wasn’t going to overpower anyone, so he threw sidearm with a sinker, breaking ball, and changeup. ("You don't want to know my gun readings,” he joked. “They were bad.”)
“Tommy was always a better player than me,” Johnny said. “He definitely worked harder at it and it also helps that he's 5 or 6 inches taller than me. I didn't quite get blessed with very much height. [Jose] Altuve didn't really break into the Majors until I was in high school."
Johnny first learned how to score a game from his grandfather when he was no more than four years old. It started with a scorebook and progressed to a PalmPilot, one of those old-school digital devices with a touch screen. By the time he was 8, he was sitting in the dugout with the team his father coached at La Jolla Country Day, dutifully keeping score (much to the surprise of onlookers). Edman family trips to baseball tournaments would usually involve Johnny scoring the games from the sidelines, young Elise reading books and playing with other younger sisters in a tent with her mother, and Tommy playing.
“It’d be like bases loaded, nobody out and I would bring him in, and Maureen would get so nervous and would probably want to punch me,” John said.
“I’d just leave,” Maureen said. “I had a way of dealing with the nerves—I was always the team photographer. There’s a level between you and being a nervous wreck because you have a job to do.”
As he grew older, Johnny transitioned into a team manager role for his father’s team and set his sights on the technical side of baseball, fueled by his enjoyment of the book “Moneyball” and his father’s background in math education. He knew he wanted to stay around the game as he majored in applied math at Wheaton College, and he got his chance when he became a baseball operations intern with his hometown Padres.
Johnny didn’t get a full-time offer, though, leading to work in technical consulting and a development job outside baseball. He stayed in Missouri, which helped him stay close to Tommy’s Minor League stops in Peoria, Memphis and Springfield. They even roomed together for a few months. Johnny maintained the skillset necessary for a modern baseball research and development position and worked through the application process for the Twins from the bottom to the top.
"Ideally, I'd like to work in baseball for a long time,” Johnny, 26, said. “I'd like to make contributions to player evaluation, that sort of thing. And so I'm happy doing development and things like that. Data engineering, I guess I should say. Helping out the analysts any way I can. It's been cool how the Twins have listened to different voices in the front office.”
The sister engineer
Elise, now 22, took over for Johnny as the team manager when he graduated high school, and then she enjoyed as decorated a collegiate athletic career as Tommy. She helped lead her high school team to a volleyball state championship in 2013 and went on to start at Davidson College for four seasons as a defensive specialist.
Elise, who studied computer science, knew she wanted to work in sports somehow, someway. And when a job opened up in the Cardinals' front office, she started the long interview process. She graduated from Davidson, accepted the job this past winter, and has settled into her St. Louis apartment with her husband while working remotely this season. Her job centers around the Cardinals’ development system, collecting data for analysts and occasionally providing analysis, too. Because Tommy has graduated to the Majors, Elise doesn’t work with his stats too much.
“There’s not too much crossover there, but obviously when I watch the games, I’m rooting for him and hoping that he does super well,” Elise said. “It’s just an entertaining way to learn. You get to learn a lot while also doing the things that you love. I think just that I’m honestly learning so much while also getting to apply it to a sport that I love.”
Elise’s big brothers couldn’t be more proud of where she is now, just a few months out of college.
“I remember when she was really young, she said she liked going to Padres games more because the seats were comfortable and she could fall asleep in them,” Tommy said. “She’s obviously changed a lot since she was 6 years old. Getting the chance to apply what she studied in college to a sport that she’s interested in is a really cool chance for her. And just the fact that it happens to be with the team that I play for is a bonus.”
The Twins and Cardinals played a doubleheader to wrap up their season series. Tommy played third base in the first game and right field in the second game. He launched a two-run homer in the sixth inning of Game 1. Elise and Johnny had the game on in the background while they worked. Just another day of baseball in the Edman family.
“This is just natural for them,” Maureen said. “They grew up at the field. That’s what they always did. So they’re all very comfortable being involved in baseball.” (Anne Rogers - Sept. 9, 2020)
2020 Season: Edman once again was the versatile tool that Mike Shildt was going to use one way or another. Edman logged some time at second, short, third, right, and left, though his bat wasn’t necessarily that strong at any of them. (Except left–25 PA, .400 BA and 1.000 OPS. Just what the outfield needs, another complication.)
There’s no doubt that Edman provided value to the club. He was fourth on the team in home runs, ahead of people like Matt Carpenter and Paul DeJong. He was tied for fourth in batting average, not trailing Yadier Molina and Kolten Wong by much. He was a solid contributor to the cause, no doubt.
However, did he need to lead the team in at bats? Maybe that’s a function of the slumping of Carpenter and the DH option for Brad Miller. He did play third base more than anywhere else, after all. It could be, if Carpenter had had that bounce back season that we thought he might have, Edman would have been more of the Jose Oquendo of the team. There were only three seasons (1988-1990) that the Secret Weapon got 500 plate appearances. Sometimes the best use of a player is judiciously.
The fact that Edman has to play so much because he’s honestly one of the better players on the team is a credit to Edman and what he can get out of his talent set, of course, but it is much more of an indictment on the way this team is constructed.
The fact that Tommy Edman is one of your players tells you that you need to get better players. Edman is a complementary guy, a dash of salt or seasoning to an already tasty dish. Or maybe it’s more like he’s a side dish that has been suddenly thrust into the main course. Cranberry sauce is great and all, but if that’s the focus of Thanksgiving, you are having a lousy meal.
Outlook: Given all the financial repercussions, it is very unlikely we’ll see any addition to this roster significant enough to displace Edman into that super sub role. The Cardinals have declined Wong’s option, which means most likely Edman will be starting at second base all year long. While that’s not exactly a death knell for the 2021 Cardinals, it’s not the most hopeful sign either. (Cardinal70 -November 11, 2020)
|Birth City:||San Diego, CA|
|Draft:||Cardinals #6 - 2016 - Out of Stanford Univ. (CA)|
Edman is a switch-hitter who works extra hard to stay consistent and mechanically sound from both sides of the plate. He is a natural righty and doesn't strikeout much, with a disciplined approach and outstanding pitch recognition. He has a level swing with his bat staying in the zone a long time.
Tommy shows the propensity to drive balls into the gaps and leg out doubles and triples from both sides of the plate. But he won't hit many home runs. (Spring 2019)
- As Tommy approached his high school years, a coach pulled the infielder aside and suggested that switch-hitting could be a trick—or a pursuit.
“If you’re serious about being a switch-hitter,” Edman recalled the coach saying, “you’ve got to fully commit to it.”
So he did.
Edman credits two assistant coaches who helped him a great deal in his development as a hitter. Brock Ungricht and Jon Karcich helped not only with any mechanical issues but also helped him with his consistency with his appraoch at the plate. Their approach was mainly emphasizing waiting for his pitch instead of swinging at every strike. (Joe Schwarz, Sep 22, 2016, Viva el birdos.com)
Tommy has improved his approach at the plate.
“That’s something that I’ve gotten a lot better at,” Edman said in 2019. “I think my approach has definitely gotten a lot better over the course of the past couple of years.
"It’s about looking for pitches that I’m able to handle, rather than the pitches that might be in the strike zone and other people might be able to handle but aren’t (in) my hot zones.”
July 18, 2019: When Tommy was called up in June, no one really knew what he could do. For a while, it seemed like all the rookie could do was hit. Then the Major Leaguers facing him adjusted. Edman’s hot start slowed after the All-Star break. He knew it was bound to happen sometime. So he adjusted, too.
The adaptations Edman made to big league pitching culminated to his first career grand slam in the Cardinals’ 7-4 series opening win over the Reds at Great American Ball Park. His first-pitch, 408-foot blast was the Cardinals’ first grand slam of the season and broke the 3-3 tie in the top of the sixth inning. (Rogers - mlb.com)
2019 Season: Called up in June, Edman brought a spark right when the Cardinals needed it. By the end of the season, he led everyone on the team with at least 300 at-bats in average (.304), slugging (.500) and OPS (.850). And he was second to Kolten Wong in on-base percentage (.350).
- 2020 Season:
First 11 games: .171/.244/.317
Last 44 games: .270/.335/.380
Edman didn’t replicate the power he showed as a rookie, but he still demonstrated the ability to hit for average and get on base at an above-average clip after a slow start. The Cardinals’ Covid-19 outbreak forced the team to shut down for 19 days early in the season, and Edman was one of many players who understandably needed a few games to get back up to speed when they returned. He eventually found his stride and was a positive offensive contributor for most of the season, even if his overall numbers don’t show it. (Kyle Glaser - Baseball America - April, 2021)
- As of the start of the 2021 season, Tommy's career Major League stats were: .283 batting average, 16 homers and 150 hits with 62 RBI in 530 at-bats.
Edman's best asset is his defense at shortstop. And he rode that three levels to finish his first full season at Double-A Springfield in 2017. He is instinctive at shortstop and has solid tools as well, with soft hands, good actions, solid-average range, and average arm strength. (Spring 2019)
Edman is a player who takes pride in this ability to make routine plays and difficult plays look easy.
- Tommy is impressive with his steadiness at a variety of positions, from shortstop to second base to third base.
Edman had 30 steals in 2018. And he was caught just 5 times.
- In 2019 with the Cardinals, Edman had 15 steals and was caught just once.
- Tommy has 60 grade speed.
- July 21-28, 2018: Edman was on the DL.