The St. Louis Cardinals are the team to beat in National League Central, writes MLB.com columnist Tracy Ringolsby.
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For the Cardinals and their fans, playing into October is expected for the franchise. It’s not just leading back to the days when Tony La Russa was managing the team. Or Whitey Herzog. Or Red Schoendienst. I can go on and on with dropping the names of Hall of Famers who managed the franchise. The fact is, this is a team that is filled deep with tradition.
Winning for the Cardinals isn’t just the Cardinal Way. It’s a way of life.
It is hopeful that right fielder Jason Heyward, acquired during the offseason with Jordan Walden for Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins, more than makes up for the horrid offense that came from right field during the 2014 season.
"The five players who got starts in right for the Cardinals last season combined to produce only 115 runs (56 runs scored, 59 RBIs) — the fewest of any right field assemblage in the NL."
Prior to being traded, Allen Craig was getting the bulk of starts in right. However, Craig was never really the same player since injuring his foot late in the 2013 season. It’s hard to really say how well Oscar Taveras would have produced in right field had he gotten the start from the season.
"With the addition of Heyward, along with the continued emergence of first baseman Matt Adams and the confidence that second baseman Kolten Wong will build off his first full big league season, the Cardinals feel they will be markedly better offensively than the team that tied for 23rd in the Majors in runs scored last season."
Wong had an impressive postseason last year and went on to hit the home run that won the second game of the 2014 National League Championship Series against the San Francisco Giants.