5 most important players for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2022

Nolan Arenado #28 of the St. Louis Cardinals drives in a run with a sacrifice fly against the Milwaukee Brewers in the fifth inning at Busch Stadium on September 28, 2021 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Nolan Arenado #28 of the St. Louis Cardinals drives in a run with a sacrifice fly against the Milwaukee Brewers in the fifth inning at Busch Stadium on September 28, 2021 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /
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St. Louis Cardinals
PHILADELPHIA, PA – APRIL 17: Dylan Carlson #3 of the St. Louis Cardinals in action against the Philadelphia Phillies during an MLB baseball game at Citizens Bank Park on April 17, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

No. 3: Dylan Carlson

I don’t think there is a single fan who is mad at how Dylan Carlson’s rookie season went in 2021. Finishing with an OPS near .800 and a wRC+ of 113, the switch-hitter finished third in Rookie of the Year voting, a nice consolation for a season that had its peaks and valleys.

Heading into year two, Carlson has looked great in spring training and by all accounts will be the team’s leadoff man to start the year. The mix of Carlson batting leadoff and heading into year two is why he is so far up this list. In 2021, Carlson had a partial share of leadoff duties with Tommy Edman but after Edman struggled, Carlson gets the nod heading into this season.

Expectations are higher heading into 2022 and the team needs Carlson to set the table for the bats behind him. If Carlson can’t get the job done at leadoff, Edman will likely get the next crack before new manager Ollie Marmol is forced to get more creative. In short, it’s best if Carlson just figures out how to fill that spot well.

Still just 23 for the majority of the season, the Elk Grove, California native will surely have growing pains, but any improvement on his 2.8 fWAR season in 2021 will be great to see from Carlson. Compared to most of his minor-league seasons, Carlson walked slightly less and struck out slightly more in his first full season, but he showed plenty of ability to work the count and get on base which is exactly what the team needs out of their leadoff man.

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