The St. Louis Cardinals were ranked fifth in the Power Rankings published on David Schoenfield’s ESPN SweetSpot blog.
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Schoenfield writes that newly acquired outfielder Jason Heyward is a Gold Glove player in the same mode as the late Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente. There’s no arguing that right field was the weakest position for the St. Louis Cardinals last season and plagued the club when it came to offensive production. Allen Craig so most of the time in right field with 70 games started. Oscar Taveras started 58 games. Randal Grichuk started 16 games. Jon Jay started 11 games. Matt Carpenter, Tommy Pham, and Joey Butler all saw limited time at the position.
Overall, as Schoenfield notes, the St. Louis Cardinals’ wOBA in right field was the worst in baseball. Heyward should bring an improvement in production and likely more than the 11 home runs that he hit with the Atlanta Braves last year.
Trevor Rosenthal, the closer, may have recorded 45 saves in 2014 but the reliever also posted a 2-6 record. His walks-per-nine innings (BB9) also increased from 2.4 to 5.9 batters. This number needs to go back down and Rosenthal needs to show some consistency in the ninth inning to calm Cardinals Nation. There were times last year in which fans were complaining loudly on social media.
Is Adam Wainwright due for a decline this year? That’s what the writer thinks after Wainwright had surgery during the offseason.
Here’s the part where I seriously find myself in disagreement with Schoenfield. I think the poor offensive production in 2014 was a fluke. While the Cardinals may not see the crazy numbers that they had in 2013, I don’t expect to see a collapse at all.
"The Cardinals have done a nice job of blending in some youth with the likes of Heyward, Matt Adams and Kolten Wong, but they’re still relying on 30-somethings Yadier Molina, Matt Holliday and Jhonny Peralta, not to mention Wainwright. Molina and Holliday slipped a bit last year, and Peralta will be hard-pressed to repeat his season. There’s enough age here that the potential for a collapse is possible. We’re so used to the Cardinals winning that we just expect them to keep winning."
The Cardinals’ bench will be way better than the past few years. There are some questions about the pitching rotation given Michael Wacha‘s health and that’s understandable. When all is said and done, the St. Louis Cardinals will be playing in October once more.