Two St. Louis Cardinals players received MVP votes in 2021, including their breakout star Tyler O’Neill.
Adam Wainwright finished seventh in the National League Cy Young voting. Mike Shildt finished third in the NL manager of the year voting.
On Thursday, Paul Goldschmidt finished sixth in the NL MVP voting. The other St. Louis Cardinals player to receive MVP consideration was Tyler O’Neill (he finished eighth), receiving a third-place vote from Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Goldschmidt, 34, was the Cardinals’ best and most consistent player in 2021. He finished the season hitting .294/.365/.514 with 31 home runs and 99 RBI, but let’s take a look at his first and second half splits:
First half: .265/.335/.432 with 13 home runs, 49 RBI and a .767 OPS in 88 games.
Second half: .330/.402/.618 with 18 home runs, 50 RBI and a 1.020 OPS in 70 games.
It was Goldschmidt who led the Cardinals’ offense the entire season, helping them overcome Nolan Arenado’s early struggles as he grew accustomed to playing in St. Louis. But he was equally as good defensively, winning his fourth career Gold Glove, and being one of five Cardinals players to win the award.
But the Cardinals’ breakout star was O’Neill, who emerged as a revelation with increased playing time. Entering the season, team officials were optimistic that he would take the next step, but could not have envisioned anything like the .286/.352/.560 with 34 home runs and 80 RBI slash line that he posted.
It was surprising that he finished eighth in MVP voting, however, finishing above Freddie Freeman, Max Muncy and Nick Castellanos, among others. But he has established himself as a major part of the Cardinals’ core moving forward and is a popular candidate to receive a contract extension this winter, though there are no signs a deal is imminent or even in the works.
If the Cardinals receive similar performances from both players next season, and see Arenado perform like the player he was for eight seasons in Colorado, they will be among the favorites to represent the National League in the World Series. Ultimately, it was those three – especially Goldschmidt and O’Neill – who helped them win 17 consecutive games and overcome minimal odds to make the playoffs in 2021.