Predictions for the St. Louis Cardinals 2022 season
By Ben Remis
Greg Simons (@GregSimonsSays)
MVP: Tyler O’Neill
The old guard is getting all the headlines now with Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright being joined by Albert Pujols for what is likely a farewell tour for all three of these Cardinals great. However, younger players will establish themselves as team anchors, with O’Neill leading the way. Power, speed, defense, what else are you looking for in a player? An ability to strike out less than 30% of the time? Well, sure, that would be nice, but he does everything else so well.
Cy Young: Miles Mikolas
While it’s difficult to pick against Wainwright, at some point age will catch up with him. I certainly hope it’s not this season, but I’m going out on a limb and suggesting Mikolas comes back healthy and strong, limiting walks, inducing grounders for the stellar Cardinals defense to eat up, and providing enough innings to justify his lofty $17M salary. He doesn’t have to be great, just good enough.
X-Factor: Dakota Hudson
With Jack Flaherty already on the injured list, this Cardinals team needs somebody to pitch a good number of innings. Already slotted into the rotation, there’s now added pressure for Hudson to be a solid contributor. He doesn’t have a big paycheck to justify like Mikolas, but he does need to provide a similar number of innings. And also like Mikolas, he doesn’t have to be great, just good enough.
Two-sentence team evaluation: With the front office mostly just making tweaks around the edges of the roster besides the Steven Matz signing, it’s largely up to last year’s squad to perform at a similar level this season. Improvement and bounce-backs from younger players will need to offset the effects of time on the elder statesmen, and it will be enough to get St. Louis back to the playoffs as a Wild Card team.
Bold prediction: Tyler O’Neill finishes in the top five of MVP voting
O’Neill finished eighth in MVP voting last season, two spots behind teammate Paul Goldschmidt. This year, O’Neill steps up his game even further, stays healthy, and leads the Cardinals to the playoffs. He may not be the best player in the National League, but he’ll be in the conversation the next few years.