St. Louis Cardinals: Just two players ranked in MLB Network’s Top 100
By Matt Graves
Each year, MLB Network does its own list for the top 100 players in the league. This year, just two St. Louis Cardinals were on that list. Is this right?
The wait of the offseason is almost over. Spring Training has started and the St. Louis Cardinals will start playing games soon. We know it’s close to game time because MLB Network is doing it’s yearly Top 100 Players list.
This year is different though as it exposes something about the team that fans already know.
Last year, the Cardinals had three players on MLB Network’s list. The newly acquired superstar first baseman, Paul Goldschmidt, was ranked all the way up at number 16. Following Goldy was Matt Carpenter at number 33 then Marcell Ozuna at number 76.
How quickly things can change.
It doesn’t take a large leap to guess that Carpenter and Ozuna were both left off of this year’s list due to the down year they had in 2019. The Cardinals that are on this list though aren’t nearly as high as the mark set by Goldschmidt last year.
Paul Goldschmidt, #46
While it was not a “bad year” for Paul Goldschmidt in his first year with the Cardinals, it was far from the year that many fans and I’m sure the Cardinals’ front office thought he would have. After being a career 141 OPS+ hitter, Goldy had just a 113 OPS+ in 2019.
The fact that Paul Goldschmidt is still Paul Goldschmidt, as well as his second half, kept him in the top-50, but there is an argument to be made that he could’ve been lower.
It was a disappointing year and everyone expects a bounceback in 2020, but for now, he’s no longer the top-20 player in the league like he used to.
Jack Flaherty, #28
While Goldschmidt fell down the list from 2019 to 2020, Jack Flaherty made a leap up it. After his rookie year where he made 28 starts with a 3.86 FIP over 151 innings left him off the list, Flaherty proved in 2019 that he deserves this spot.
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Arguably the best pitcher in the league from the All-Star Break on, Flaherty finished the season with a 2.75 ERA (3.46 FIP) and a league-leading .968 WHIP. He did this behind another league-leading stat, his 6.2 H/9.
Flaherty proved that he’s the ace of the staff that fans dreamed he would be when he first broke into the league and if he can stay healthy, he will look to continue to climb the list after the 2020 season.
This is a tough thing to discuss as it’s very difficult to stay completely unbiased when talking about which players should’ve been on the list. My first thought about which player should be on the list went straight to Kolten Wong. Wong was ranked as the 9th-best second baseman by MLB Network and that already feels wrong.
Wong had the best defensive season of any second baseman by far and paired that with a 6% above average offensive season in route to a 4.7 bWAR in total. The fact that he couldn’t crack the top 100 is ridiculous.
Giovanny Gallegos wasn’t put in enough high-leverage situations to make the top-ten relievers list, however, he is one name to watch for next year.
There are a lot of players from the NL Central on the list made by MLB Network which doesn’t mean anything drastic. It just means that in the majority of their games, the Cardinals are going to be facing off against some star power. As far as next year, hopefully the Cardinals’ bats wake up again enough to bring more players onto MLB Network’s list.