A 23rd-round draft pick in 2009, Matt Adams has blossomed into the Cardinals' biggest offensive threat in 2014 and helped the team all but forget the previous sluggers who've anchored first base. (Albert and Allen, who?) Adams' .300-plus batting average through July was among baseball's best for the first half of the season. Yet the powerful lefty, whom visiting broadcasters love to refer to as "burly" and who's known in the Cardinals clubhouse as "Big City," is more than just brawn. The kid (he's just 26 years old) also has brains, which explains why he's just as likely to smartly plug a hit into the gap as he is to go yard. And though Adams' batting average began to sink as the season wore on, it can be argued that he — more than anyone — kept the Cardinals in the division race throughout most of the summer. As manager Mike Matheny says of his versatile cleanup hitter: "The league knows [it] has to respect him."
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