St. Louis Cardinals: Potential 2021 bounce back candidates

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 02: Members of the St. Louis Cardinals react to being down 4-0 during the ninth inning of Game Three of the National League Wild Card Series against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on October 02, 2020 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 02: Members of the St. Louis Cardinals react to being down 4-0 during the ninth inning of Game Three of the National League Wild Card Series against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on October 02, 2020 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /
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MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – JULY 28: Paul DeJong #11 of the St. Louis Cardinals congratulates teammate Tommy Edman #19 on a solo home run against the Minnesota Twins during the eighth inning of the home opener at Target Field on July 28, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Cardinals 6-3. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – JULY 28: Paul DeJong #11 of the St. Louis Cardinals congratulates teammate Tommy Edman #19 on a solo home run against the Minnesota Twins during the eighth inning of the home opener at Target Field on July 28, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Cardinals 6-3. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

There are a lot of questions for the St. Louis Cardinals going into next season. Which current players could be in line for a bounce back in 2021?

The St. Louis Cardinals pride themselves on consistency via winning seasons and October baseball. Therefore with the COVID-affected 2020 season, the team did well to maintain this form amidst a number of challenges out of the organization’s control. With this in mind, there were certainly some standout issues with the roster which the Redbirds will need to look to resolve going into this spring.

The Cardinals finished 2020 with some continued major question marks around the offense, amassing the fewest doubles and fewest homeruns in all of the majors. This combined to a below average 93 wRC+ and a .694 OPS. This OPS was fifth-worst in all of MLB and the Cardinals second worst season, per OPS, in the last 20 years (better only than 2014).

Not only did the offense struggle in 2020, but the Cards’ normally stellar pitching and fielding combo was not quite as elite as it has been in prior seasons. The St. Louis Cardinals have finished in the top five for starting pitcher ERA over the last three years, but ranked as just the ninth best in 2020.

This minor blip in starter ERA will be driven jointly by a slight lull in pitching performance, but also by the defense behind them. Per Baseball Savants’ Outs Above Average metric, the Cardinals infield defense dropped from first overall in 2019 (with 29 OAA) down to 19th overall (with one run allowed) last season.

With all of the above and the financial constraints hitting not only the St. Louis Cardinals in 2021, but the majority of major sporting franchises who have gone a full season without fans, there will no doubt be a drive to look for rebound candidates from the current Cardinals roster!

Here are three key Redbirds who have the potential for a bounce back 2021 to maintain the franchises winning ways in the regular season and to push towards a longer postseason berth.

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