St. Louis Cardinals: Keep Dylan Carlson expectations reasonable

JUPITER, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 19: Dylan Carlson #68 of the St. Louis Cardinals poses for a photo on Photo Day at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium on February 19, 2020 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
JUPITER, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 19: Dylan Carlson #68 of the St. Louis Cardinals poses for a photo on Photo Day at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium on February 19, 2020 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

St. Louis Cardinals fans are rightfully excited about the arrival of top prospect Dylan Carlson but expectations need to be reasonable.

The St. Louis Cardinals are calling up their top prospect, Dylan Carlson. The time that many fans have been anxiously waiting for appears to be here. With a rather bland and unproductive offense, it makes sense that Carlson should be a permanent fixture in the lineup.

The question of who he will replace in the outfield is one that should soon be answered. The question of how he will produce will unfold over the course of the season. Because he’s so well regarded not only among the Cardinals but also among the baseball industry, it stands to reason that expectations will be sky-high for the young man. But is that the best thing for a talented rookie?

The last thing that I imagine the team would want is for Carlson to come up and feel immense pressure. Fans have been anxious to see him and now he’s getting the chance to show himself at the highest level. My suggestion to fellow fans is to be patient and keep expectations reasonable.

Is it possible that Carlson breaks through and becomes a star right away? Sure it is. But it’s not a fair thing to expect. I think it’s very likely he provides some excitement to the team and becomes a big part of the offense right away. We saw what Tommy Edman did last season when he burst onto the scene for the Cardinals. Edman pretty much came out of nowhere and helped propel the team to the division title and an NLCS appearance. In fact, the St. Louis Cardinals might not make the playoffs in 2019 without Edman.

Why can’t Carlson provide that same spark? He might. We will have to wait and see, but it is important to understand that part of his production will be linked to who is around him in the batting order. If he’s hitting second for instance, ahead of Paul Goldschmidt, he could get some good pitches to hit. The Cardinals do not have a great offense, so it is unclear just how many run-producing opportunities he will get.

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Last season, between AA/AAA, he had a great season. Carlson, a switch hitter, hit .292 with 26 home runs and 86 RBI. Imagine that in the Cardinals lineup. In addition to those numbers, he also stole 20 bases, which would add another element to his game. With an OBP of .372, he could create some run opportunities for his teammates if he continues to be aggressive on the basepaths. Did I mention that he’s 21?

All in all, there are many reasons to be excited about Dylan Carlson. To me, he seems to have a high floor even if he doesn’t quite reach his ceiling. That suggests that he should be a fixture on the team for years to come, hopefully.

The last thing that should happen is for him to crumble under enormous pressure and unreasonably high expectations. A lot of teams (the Cardinals are no exception) seem to do a great job of hyping up their prospects and in the case of Carlson, he is worth the hype.

My expectations are reasonable, I think. I’d like to see him prove that he can hit big-league pitching and show a little more power than he did in spring training. If his RBI and run totals seem a bit low by the end of the season, take into account the talent of the offense around him. He could be facing the task of carrying a big role in the offense, and that’s some big pressure for a 21-year-old rookie. Especially for a top prospect who already seems to be a fan favorite for many fans.

Bottom line, let’s just enjoy St. Louis Cardinals baseball and hope there are no further stoppages or delays in their season. The next time the team steps onto the field, Carlson looks like he will be there.

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It’s exciting for fans to see this highly regarded prospect in action at the Major League level. He might tear the cover off the ball right away. But if he doesn’t, it’s not time to rush to judgement. By keeping expectations reasonable and maybe even somewhat low, that leaves plenty of room for him to be a pleasant surprise.