The St. Louis Cardinals outfielder with the highest ceiling
The St. Louis Cardinals outfielder with the highest ceiling is not Tyler O’Neill or Harrison Bader. It’s Dylan Carlson, and his September is proof.
On a St. Louis Cardinals roster with Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Tyler O’Neill, and in an outfield with Tyler O’Neill and Harrison Bader, it’s easy to forget about Dylan Carlson.
But Carlson is coming off his first full major-league season, is only 23 years old and posted a solid .266/.343/.437 slash line across 149 games. Signed through 2027, he’s going to be a cornerstone in the Cardinals’ outfield and as Katie Woo of The Athletic writes, might have the highest upside of any outfielder currently on the team.
It’s high praise for Carlson, especially with O’Neill emerging as a serious MVP candidate in 2022. Bader, meanwhile, finally put it all together in 2021, improving drastically at the plate while winning his first Gold Glove award. And while Carlson struggled at times last season, resulting in him being shuffled throughout the lineup, there were glimpses of what the Cardinals believe could be a future star.
Carlson’s production in September is the perfect example, where he hit .293, posted an .855 OPS and five home runs. Combined with Goldschmidt, O’Neill and Bader, as well as other members of the roster stepping up, and it’s why the Cardinals went on their historic 17-game winning streak and made the postseason when many analysts, myself included, counted them out.
And the Cardinals believe it’s a sign of things to come for Carlson. They believe he can be a prominent part of a star-studded roster, continuing as the team’s leadoff hitter, while playing above-average defense in the outfield. And his affordability will allow the organization to keep big contracts such as Arenado and Goldschmidt on the roster and give them the flexibility to keep adding to other areas of the roster.
It’s what president of baseball operations John Mozeliak envisioned when compiling his roster. And if the organization is right, Carlson could soon emerge into a star, perhaps as early as 2022.