3 unexpected presents from the St. Louis Cardinals’ 2021 season
Paul Goldschmidt still has plenty in the tank
Since Paul Goldschmidt was traded to the Cardinals and signed on long-term, he has never been “bad,” but fans had yet to see a year that resembled any of his top-10 MVP years that he had in Arizona in the first half of his career.
In 2019, Goldschmidt and his .821 OPS and 117 wRC+ was solid but nowhere near his career 141 mark in that category. Then in 2020, the shortened season saw opposing teams walking Goldschmidt more than ever to avoid facing the only formidable bat in the team’s lineup. When Goldy did get pitched to, a barrage of singles rather than extra-base power was concerning, even if his 147 wRC+ at the end of the year was great.
In 2021, an unlucky start to the year left his slash line at .239/.305/.380 at the end of the second month of the season. Despite the team having success at that time, there was growing concern about the team’s first baseman despite a crazy-high hard-hit percentage.
Thankfully though, regression works both ways. From June 1 on, Paul Goldschmidt was on fire at the plate slashing .322/.395/.583, thriving in the second spot of the lineup. By the end of the year, the 33-year-old first baseman put together his best all-around year in St. Louis with a 138 wRC+, 31 homers, and 99 RBI. Like O’Neill, he tacked on a Gold Glove to his 2021 resume and finished just ahead of O’Neill in MVP voting at the 6th spot.
With three years left under contract in St. Louis, 2021 was a great sign for Goldschmidt, even if it ends up being the high-water mark of his time here.
Whether it was Cabrera, O’Neill, or Goldschmidt, there were plenty of things to be excited about from 2021 when it comes to St. Louis Cardinals baseball. Sure, it’s tough to think about right now in the middle of a lockout, but there are plenty of pieces on the roster to keep building around as we move into next season.