Siani experiencing the highs and lows at a rapid rate

May 13th, 2024

This story was excerpted from John Denton’s Cardinals Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Within about 40 feet of the wall at Milwaukee’s American Family Field and some 18 hours of lapsed time, Cardinals outfielder experienced some of the highest of highs and lowest of lows this past weekend.

First, came the low moment on Saturday night. Inserted into the game as a defensive replacement in the bottom of the sixth to try and help the Cardinals protect a two-run lead, Siani retreated to the wall, leaped high into the air and extended his right arm well above the yellow line in the bottom of the seventh inning. He got his glove on Rhys Hoskins’ drive, but he was unable to prevent the three-run home run that would doom St. Louis in a 5-3 loss to the Brewers.

An afternoon later, Siani would experience a dramatically different set of emotions at the wall in right-center field. This time around, it was Sinai driving the ball after he turned around a 96-mph fastball from Milwaukee reliever Elvis Peguero. And yet again, a matter of inches would come into play during Siani’s big moment. The ball left his bat at 104.8 mph and traveled 392 feet, per Statcast, but it literally landed on top of the wall and ricocheted back onto the playing field.

While Siani barely missed out on the first MLB home run of his career, he did drive in Brendan Donovan for what proved to be the winning run that snapped the Cardinals’ seven-game losing streak.

“Obviously, you want to see that ball go out there and it would have been cool for a first one,” Siani said. “But that’s just part of the game. It’s a tough game. But to get that run in and take the lead, that was huge.”

As happy as Siani was about his Sunday winner -- he planned to tell his mother, Kristen, back in Philadelphia, that he did it for her on Mother’s Day -- he still was slightly perturbed about not making the game-saving catch a night earlier. It reaffirmed something often true among the game’s greatest players: They hate to lose far more than they love to win.

“Too many times,” Siani said when asked how many times he watched his near robbery. “It did get a piece of my glove. It’s hard to see that in the replay, but that one was tough to take, for sure. Those are the ones you want. I want to contribute with the glove and the bat, but that’s one I want back, and I want to make a play there.”

Siani, who came to the Cardinals after being claimed off waivers from the Reds last September, has proven to be something of an unlikely savior. He made the Opening Day roster only because of injuries to Tommy Edman and Dylan Carlson, and consistent playing time became available only after No. 3 prospect Victor Scott II struggled at the big league level.

All Siani has done since working his way into the lineup is compile a Fielding Run Value of 4, which is tied for fourth in the Major Leagues among center fielders who have played at least 100 innings, per Baseball Savant. Defensively, he trails only Daulton Varsho, Julio Rodríguez and former Gold Glover Michael A. Taylor among center fielders.

While the Cardinals entrusted him in center because of his elite closing speed and stellar first step defensively, it is Siani’s offense that has proven to be a pleasant surprise. His eight-game hitting streak is the third-longest active spree in the bigs. Even more impressively, he’s hitting .478 (11-for-23) with three runs scored and Sunday’s game-winning RBI during the hitting streak.

For Siani, he doesn’t take anything for granted with the golden opportunity he’s received to show that he belongs in the big leagues, and he’s made the most of it. Just 24 years old, he wants to keep working and keep improving so maybe next time he has a chance to rob a home run, he can pull the ball back instead of having it deflect off his glove.

“It’s about staying consistent with my routine and what I do every day,” Siani said. “It’s about taking it one at-bat and one pitch at a time and not thinking too much. I have to trust myself and know that I’m here for a reason. I have to trust that and know that whether the results are good or bad, I need to just stay with the process and continue to improve.”