Early 2022 ZiPS projections for the St. Louis Cardinals appear very optimistic, and would surely lead to a postseason berth.
In 2022, the expectations are high for the St. Louis Cardinals. Even with a first-time manager in Oli Marmol, they enter the season with World Series aspirations and anything short of a playoff berth would be considered a massive disappointment, especially since it’s Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright’s final seasons.
So when FanGraphs released their latest ZiPS projections, Cardinals fans had to be salivating. Here’s the chart, via Dan Szymborwski:
As you can see, Jack Flaherty (3.3) and Wainwright (2.4) lead the way in terms of fWAR among starting pitcher projections. The relief core, which is made up of eight different relievers, are projected for a combined 2.6 fWAR. But where it gets really interesting is the position players and let’s just say this: if these projections are a sign of things to come, the Cardinals will be in VERY good shape next season.
The projections go as followed: Nolan Arenado (4.5), Tyler O’Neill (4.4), Harrison Bader (4.3), Paul Goldschmidt (3.7), Paul DeJong/Edmundo Sosa (3.2), Tommy Edman/Nolan Gorman (2.6), Dylan Carlson (2.5) and Yadier Molina/Andrew Knizner (1.7).
There’s a lot to take away from this, but let’s start with O’Neill and Bader(!) being projected to have more fWAR than Goldschmidt. That largely has to do with their defense, with both being among the elite defensive outfielders in the game, but with that being said, Goldschmidt is a Gold Glove first baseman. FanGraphs is clearly high on O’Neill and Bader, and rightfully so after their 2021 seasons.
The other is Carlson, who FanGraphs is projecting to regress in 2022. He had 2.8 fWAR in 2021, so it would be disappointing if he went lower than that, though the Cardinals clearly feel that he is someone they can build around in the outfield. So maybe FanGraphs is just low on Carlson?
Either way, this would be an ideal outcome for the Cardinals and surely result in a postseason berth, perhaps even a National League Central division title. And if the second half resurgence in 2021 is a sign of things to come, their projections have a real chance of turning into reality. We just need baseball to come back first.