With the St. Louis Cardinals 2019 season officially under wraps, it’s time to decide who the team award winners are. Who is worthy of them?
The 2019 season was a rollercoaster of a season for the St. Louis Cardinals, to say the least. There were many negatives as well as many positives, and we were able to see the Cardinals overcome adversity and make it to the NLCS.
Today, we are going to see which players are worthy of the prestigious 2019 Redbird Rants end of season awards. Though these awards are picked by the staff at Redbird Rants and might not have much significant value, it’s still good for bragging rights and what-not.
Let’s dive in.
Prospect of the Year: Dylan Carlson
Going into the season, Dylan Carlson was regarded by many as a former first-round pick that has yet to hit his potential as a ballplayer. He got the chance to play with the big leaguers on the Spring Training roster and hit for a .250/.352/.362 line which is about average compared to other major league ballplayers.
Carlson got off to a hot start for the season in AA, hitting for a .853 OPS in April; while also hitting a home run off of three-time Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw while Kershaw was on a rehab assignment in AA Oklahoma City.
Carlson only got hotter though, and by the time the first half of Texas League play was over; he had an OPS of .892 with ten homers and was selected to play in both the MLB Futures Game as well as the AA All-Star Game.
When the Cardinals decided they had seen enough of Carlson in Springfield, they gave the 20-year-old a new challenge at AAA Memphis. Carlson went on a tear in Memphis, hitting for a 1.098 OPS with five home runs in only 79 at-bats. Carlson’s success in AAA showed Cardinal fans what type of potential he has.
His success not only got him a spot but put him near the top of MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospect list, checking in at No. 24 and dethroning Nolan Gorman for the top prospect in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. Carlson is even a player we could see on next years’ Opening Day roster; so stay tuned!
Honorable Mention: Randy Arozarena
Defensive Player of the Year: Kolten Wong
Not only did Kolten Wong win a Gold Glove award among second baseman in all of the National League, but he also won the Fielding Bible award by SABR; an award that is bestowed to the second baseman with the best fielding metrics in all of baseball. He also wins the most important award, the prestigious Redbird Rants Defensive Player of the Year award.
Wong led all second basemen in UZR as well as DRS. Wong’s glove played a huge part in this team’s success and the middle infield duo between Wong and Paul DeJong was nearly unstoppable.
Wong wasn’t the only defensive player to have his skills noticed though. Five other Cardinals were announced as Gold Glove finalists, but Wong was the only player to actually come away with the award. With the way Mike Shildt has revitalized the Cardinals fielding in less than a year, we could see even more Gold Glovers next season.
Honorable Mention: Harrison Bader
Silver Slugger: Paul Goldschmidt
When the Cardinals traded for Paul Goldschmidt and gave him a $150M extension, he already had sky-high expectations in St. Louis without a single at-bat in a Cardinal uniform.
Goldschmidt did not live up to the hype and did seem to regress from his previous seasons, but he still led the St. Louis Cardinals offense in many categories. Goldy had a pretty solid .821 OPS; which led the entire team. He also had 34 home runs and 97 runs batter in; which also led the team. The 34 home runs eclipsed his career-high total.
Though the season did seem like sort of a disappointment for both Goldschmidt and Cardinal fans; it was still a very solid season. He even ranked towards the top in baseball in average exit velocity as well as in hard-hit percentage which is a good sign longterm. Before we start to call Goldschmidt a bust though, let’s see what the deserving 2019 Redbird Rants Silver Slugger brings to the table next season.
Honorable Mention: Marcell Ozuna
Reliever of the Year: Giovanny Gallegos
Giovanny Gallegos was pretty much just a throw-in from the trade that sent Luke Voit to the New York Yankees in exchange for now released Cardinal Chasen Shreve. Many viewed it as a highway robbery by GM Brian Cashman; but not so much anymore with the emergence of reliever Giovanny Gallegos.
Gallegos was easily the best Cardinals reliever this season, putting together a 2.31 ERA to go with a 0.811 WHIP. He also struck out 93 batters in only 74 innings; which would translate to a very solid 11.5 K/9.
When Gallegos got the call in high-leverage situations by the Cardinals; he always answered. Getting the Cardinals out of many jams which might have cost them their season had he not gotten out of them.
He even had a higher WAR than almost every singly NL reliever besides three All-Star arms, which Gallegos could be if he repeats another stellar campaign like he did this season.
Rookie of the Year: Tommy Edman
Tommy Edman was one of the crazier stories for the St. Louis Cardinals this season. He came up to the Majors right before the Cubs series in June and took injured utilityman Jedd Gyorko‘s spot on the roster. He was serviceable in Gyorko’s spot, but when duty called for Edman in a critical situation in an early July game against the Seattle Mariners; he delivered with a three-run home run which allowed him to truly introduce himself to Cardinals Nation.
Edman took over the starting third baseman job when Matt Carpenter went to the Injured List and never looked back; hitting a very solid .305/.350/.500 line with a team-leading 120 wRC+. He also had an above-average glove at third and finished the season with a 3.8 WAR despite only playing in about half of the games for the 2019 season.
Edman could have also made his case for the team’s MVP as well with his impact during the stretch run of the season. Nonetheless, he has definitely earned a spot on the 2020 roster and beyond, regardless of the position he’s playing.
Honorable Mention: Dakota Hudson
Cy Young: Jack Flaherty
Jack Flaherty had a very solid rookie campaign last season but got off to a rough start in 2019, having a 4.75 ERA on June 25th. After the All-Star break though, he regrouped and had one of the best second halves ever.
He finished the second half with an insane 0.91 ERA; which was the third-best ever for a second half. He also had a 0.715 WHIP as well as a massive improvement in his K/BB ratio; going from 3.34 strikeouts per walk to 5.39 strikeouts per walk.
In all, he finished the 2019 season with a 2.75 ERA with 231 strikeouts; and even had the lowest WHIP in all of the NL.
Not only did Flaherty win the honorary team Cy Young award; but he could very well get himself some NL Cy Young votes as well.
Regardless, the 22-year-old has a very special career in front of him and plenty of Cy Young awards to win; as well as the no-hitters that it seems like he is always flirting with.
Honorable Mention: Dakota Hudson
Team MVP: Kolten Wong
Honestly, this team doesn’t sniff the playoffs without Kolten Wong playing the way he did this season. Wong looked like a true star for the St. Louis Cardinals this year.
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He finished the season with the highest qualifying BA on the team, clocking in at .285. He made his way to the top of the lineup with his tear that he went on throughout the second half; hitting for an .896 OPS after the All-Star Break.
Wong has shown that he is one of the best players on this team and finished with the second-highest WAR on the team at 4.7. His clutch hitting as well as eye-popping defense carried this team to the NLCS, and the sky is the limit in 2020 for the Cardinals star second baseman.
Honorable Mention: Jack Flaherty and Tommy Edman
While the Cardinals may not have had many players included in the finalists for the league-wide awards season, these internal awards highlight who will be big in 2020. If these players continue to grow, the team has a good chance to repeat or improve upon what they did in 2019.