St. Louis Cardinals MLB Season Preview
St. Louis Cardinals Last Season Performance
The 2022 season was full of historical performances and set the Cardinals up for a run in the playoffs after dominating the NL Central. Alber Pujols hit his 700th home run, Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina set the MLB record for starts among a pitcher/catcher combo, and STL had two players fighting for the MVP.
But the fun ended quickly when the Cardinals were swept in a three-game series in the Wild Card round against the Philadelphia Phillies. It was a brutal end to a successful season, leaving fans and backers thinking about what could have been. Their MVP candidates, Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, went a combined 1-15 in that series, while stud closer Ryan Helsley fell apart in Game 1.
The good far outweighed the bad, but how things ended left a bad taste in many mouths.
The Cardinals took care of their most pressing need by signing catcher Wilson Contreras to a five-year, $87.5M deal to replace the recently retired Molina. It was a wise move by the Cardinals, but the team could have made better on their promise to spend a lot in the offseason. Contreras was their only actual expenditure. They brought back veteran arm Wainwright but needed to add meaningfully to their bullpen or rotation.
Molina and Pujols each retired at the end of the 2022 season. While Molina’s production fell off in 2022, he was the face of the franchise and meant a lot more to the team than his batting average. Pujols meanwhile exploded for 24 home runs and hit .270 in his final season.
Other vital losses include LHP Jose Quintana and OF Corey Dickerson.
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Manager: Oliver Marmol
Oliver Marmol may want to wear thick pants this season because his seat is ice-cold. The Cards’ second-year manager led them to a 93-69 (.574) record in his first season and a trip to the playoffs. Even with the Cardinals getting bounced out of the playoffs in the NL Wild Card round, there is no reason to expect the Cardinals to move on before his contract expires at the end of the 2024 season.
The Cardinals have one of the most potent lineups in the MLB and are coming off a top-10 finish in AVG, hits, home runs, doubles, walks, and strikeouts at the plate. The lineup is mostly intact from last year and should again be one of the most dangerous in the NL.
The Cardinals are less dominant on the mound but still finished ranked 10th in ERA and 15th in WHIP. On defense, STL led the league in double plays and finished second in errors per game (0.41). They also gave up the fewest stolen bases in the league (0.30 per game).
There are a few weak spots in the Cardinals roster to speak of. Their pitching staff ranked dead-last in strikeouts last season and 23rd in strikeouts per walk.
On offense, the Cardinals ranked 22nd in runners left in scoring position per game (3.43) and need to bring that number up. If they start knocking in batters at a higher rate, watch out for the Cardinals in 2023.
Predictions for the 2023 Season
The Cardinals have the potential to lead the MLB in wins after finishing with the fourth-best record in the National League last season. It would be a big jump, but the Cardinals are coming into 2023 with most of their roster intact, plus a few decent additions. The team went 43-25 after the All-Star Break and could bring that momentum right into the start of the upcoming season.
The Cardinals have a lot of young talent that could develop into viable on-field production or be used for trading for established players. Either way, the Cardinals have a clear path to the playoffs, with only the Milwaukee Brewers close to challenging their reign atop the NL Central.
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