Ranking the Ceilings of St. Louis Cardinals Outfielders

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 18: Tyler O'Neill #41, Harrison Bader #48 and Dylan Carlson #3 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrate after a 6-5 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in game one of a doubleheader at PNC Park on September 18, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 18: Tyler O'Neill #41, Harrison Bader #48 and Dylan Carlson #3 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrate after a 6-5 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in game one of a doubleheader at PNC Park on September 18, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /
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Dylan Carlson #3 of the St. Louis Cardinals rounds the bases after hitting a grand slam in the eighth inning against the San Diego Padres at Busch Stadium on September 17, 2021 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images)
Dylan Carlson #3 of the St. Louis Cardinals rounds the bases after hitting a grand slam in the eighth inning against the San Diego Padres at Busch Stadium on September 17, 2021 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images) /

No. 2: Dylan Carlson

The real debate lands at the No. 1 and No. 2 spots, but in my opinion, when looking at ceilings and potential of players, Dylan is a strong silver medalist in the Cardinal outfield. Formerly the Cardinals top prospect, Carlson bounced back from a shaky 2020 season to put together a strong rookie campaign in 2021.

Finishing 3rd in the NL ROY voting in 2021, the switch-hitting 23-year-old put up .266/.343/.437 splits with a 117 OPS+, finishing with 53 extra-base hits and 65 RBIs while fluctuating throughout the batting order. He showed off a very nice glove as well, providing well above league average defense that could develop into a plus tool.

The projections for Carlson have always been lofty, and his first full season backed up a lot of that hype. Carlson boasts good power from the left side of the plate with okay on base skills, and is an elite on base guy from the right side of the plate against left handed pitching, putting up .341/.394/528 splits on left handers this year.

If Carlson can continue to rake against left handed pitching and improve his on-base skills against right-handers, he could easily be a .300/.380/.480 type of hitter who is a doubles machine and hits 20-30 home runs a year. With the rookie year he had, and the kind of tools that were seen in him the last few years, Carlson has the highest floor out of the young outfielders. He could develop into a perennial All-Star caliber player with elite on-base skills and power that can transform the lineup. His defense puts him in an even higher class.

Theoretically, if he capitalizes on all of his tools, Carlson could be a top player in all of baseball, but his ceiling is much more likely a Top 30 type of player that year in and year out puts up consistent, All-Star level production from both sides of the plate. Sign me up for that.

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