The starters are pretty open and shut at every position except for first base, which is an open competition between Brandon Moss and Matt Adams. Who will win the battle is a guessing game at this point, as both guys have likable qualities, but also are a bit of a question mark moving forward.
First Base – Matt Adams
Right now you are reading this and probably getting ready to write a nasty comment or tell me how stupid I am. Initially, I had Brandon Moss penciled in here, and was comfortable with that moving forward. I actually predicted Moss would win the battle a few weeks ago, when I looked at the position at length.
However, my mind has changed for right now. Adams has been challenged and in my opinion has answered the bell to this point, so far. In case you haven’t seen any photos of Adams recently, “Big City” has slimmed down to a “Big Town” and considering his work in going the other way with authority, we could see a big season out of him.
Second Base – Kolten Wong
Wong is an interesting case. He has all the tools to be a top five second basemen in the league, and I believe he made great strides last year in just his second full season in the bigs. Yes, he tired out towards the end of the season, but if he can put together a full season, I believe we are in good standing with him.
I certainly believe we can expect .280-.290 with about 15 homers and 30 doubles from him. I believe he will get better with his plate discipline and continue to see a rise in his OBP. He is going to see a little bit more relief this season in the form of Jedd Gyorko and this will only help improve his play.
Shortstop – Jhonny Peralta
This is a make or break year for Peralta, he is in the third year of a four year deal with the Cardinals, and a strong year at short will keep him in a starting role at short not only this year, but for next year as well. It is nice to see the Cardinals committed to giving him days off finally, as they will likely break camp with two options to spell him. I will get into those options later, when we discuss the bench.
Will we see the first half Jhonny Peralta that carried the Cardinals, or will we see the regressed Peralta that we saw in the second half? I believe that we will likely see a regressed version of first half Peralta, but still consistent.
The power numbers probably won’t be what they were, but the hits will be. The important thing for Peralta is actually for the rest of the lineup to stay healthy and producing.
This is a key because it sets Peralta up for the role he is meant to be, as a supportive offensive threat and not THE offensive threat. If this is how the season goes, I would expect him to be a key cog in the Cardinals’ run at the Central.
Third Base – Matt Carpenter
We could be seeing an MVP type year out of Carpenter. He had a strong year last year, and should see the same type of production this coming year. For those that doubt his power ability, it has been well documented that Carpenter changed his approach and his swing some to develop that power.
This will continue. Not only that, but if he is kept in the leadoff role where he belongs and where he is most comfortable, we should see an improvement of his average and we shouldn’t see him slump for an entire two months. He will also benefit from a deeper bench this year, and could maybe even see a few starts at first base if there is a need.
So, I don’t think it is crazy to think of Carpenter slugging 30 homers with a .290-.300 average and .370+ OBP. If we see this production out of Carpenter, then it should be a good season fro the Cards and the offense should be fine.
Next: Starting Outfield