Russ Robinson (@frrobinson1957)
MVP: Nolan Arenado
I know a case can be made for Tyler O’Neill or Paul Goldschmit for MVP. However, this is Arenado’s second year playing in Busch Stadium. Although Arenado only hit .228 at Busch last year, I think he will be more comfortable hitting in Busch in 2022. Goldschmidt improved his slashline significantly across the board during his second season in St. Louis. So will Arenado. I see a big year for the Cardinals third baseman.
Cy Young: No one
Listen, I know I’m copping out here. But without Jack Flaherty available to start the season, I just can’t see anyone on this staff being a serious candidate for the Cy Young Award. Hudson and Mikolas are just returning from injuries, and Wainwright’s Cy Young days are behind him. Forget anyone else.
X-Factor: Jack Flaherty
Jack Flaherty’s return from injury will make the difference whether this team has any shot at the NL Pennant. Without Flaherty, there isn’t just enough depth with the rotation. If Flaherty returns by May, and he’s healthy, this team is good enough to make a deep postseason run.
Two sentence team evaluation: To paraphrase the political consultant James Carville, “It’s the rotation stupid.” The offense will be good, defense outstanding, the bullpen looks deep enough, but the rotation is the key to any success.
Bold Prediction: Harrison Bader will get a serious look at leadoff
Bader has one stat from last year that may give the analytic driven Cardinals a cause to consider: when leading off an inning, Bader has a slash line of .333/.370/.678 with an OPS+ of 179 in 92 PA.