3. Matt Carpenter– 1B
2017 ESPN projection: .268 AVG, 96 runs, 25 HR, 93 RBIs
2017 stats: .216 AVG, 24 runs, 9 HR, 27 RBIs
Nearing the midst of his sixth full season with the Cardinals, Carpenter has proven to be a streaky hitter time after time. But he hasn’t really found the hot-end of this streak yet, aside from the first week of May where he collected nine walks, four home runs, and six RBIs.
Carpenter has only three hits in his last twenty-five at-bats, which included seven strikeouts, and has not really found a niche hitting third in the order as quickly as some may have expected. He is a good bounce-back candidate, but to what extent or how soon is unknown.
4. Jhonny Peralta– 3B
2017 ESPN projection: .265 AVG, 51 runs, 13 HR, 51 RBIs
2017 stats: .189 AVG, 3 runs
If you are reading this article, you have just as many RBIs as Peralta has since Opening Night. And that doesn’t even begin to tell the story of the 35-year-old’s struggles.
You would also have just as many extra-base hits as Peralta, who has just nine singles this year. In all fairness, Peralta missed more than a month on the disabled list. But his dramatic falloff makes it difficult to understand how he still cracks the starting lineup, and it might not be too much longer in the final season of his four-year contract.
5. Yadier Molina– C
2017 ESPN projection: .287 AVG, 45 runs, 7 HR, 52 RBIs
2017 stats: .250 AVG, 18 runs, 6 HR, 23 RBIs
After signing a three-year, $60-million contract extension before Opening Night, Molina has been about average offensively and not much more. He might crack the double-digit home run plateau for the first time in four years with six already through early June.
That sais, his .222 RISP batting average and .202 clip with two strikes represents some difficulties he has faced in coming up in the clutch. He has only grounded into three double plays this season, much lower than his career averages.