MLB Insider Jim Bowden is excited to watch St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Dylan Carlson and believes he can be an All-Star in 2022.
When the Major League Baseball season eventually starts, the St. Louis Cardinals will arguably be one of the most exciting to watch. Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt will be in their second season together. The rotation should be improved. Tyler O’Neill is expected to continue to mash while Harrison Bader and Tommy Edman are coming off career seasons.
But MLB insider and former general manager Jim Bowden is excited to watch Dylan Carlson in spring training, writing in The Athletic that “As Carlson gains confidence and learns to stay back more at the plate, he should be able to make an adjustment, and if he does, we’ll be covering him at the All-Star Game in Los Angeles this summer.”
It’s the highest praise we have seen for Carlson, 23, yet. After struggling in his rookie season in 2020, hitting .200 with only three home runs in 119 plate appearances, he slashed .266/.343/.437 with 18 home runs and a 117 OPS+ last season. Both Bowden and the Cardinals believe there is much more, and there is reason to believe that is the case considering he posted a .372 OBP and hit 26 home runs while stealing 20 bases in Triple-A in 2019.
If Carlson can continue to progress, and the Cardinals’ other offensive weapons pick up where they left off in 2021, they have the potential to be among the top offenses in the National League. And paired with a rotation that now features Steven Matz, and a bullpen that should be improved with at least one or two new arms once the lockout is over, and it makes them an intriguing under-the-radar pick to represent the NL in the World Series.
The adjustment that Carlson needs to make to get there, as Bowden writes, is improving against breaking balls. While he hit .286 with 15 home runs against fastballs, he hit only .211 with two home runs against breaking balls. It’s something that many young players struggle with, but considering the jump Carlson made from Year 1 to Year 2, it’s fair to expect him to improve in that area in Year 3.
Just how much Carlson will improve in that area is the question – and could determine just how far the Cardinals advance into the postseason.