Can the lineup be elite all year long?
On paper, the Cardinals have the potential to be one of the best lineups in baseball. The middle of the order is anchored by MVP candidates Paul Goldschmidt, Tyler O’Neill, and Nolan Arenado. Players like Dylan Carlson, Harrison Bader, Tommy Edman, Yadier Molina, and Paul DeJong can help lengthen the lineup. Veterans Albert Pujols and Corey Dickerson should provide a great platoon at DH and youngsters Nolan Gorman, Edmundo Sosa, and Lars Nootbaar could have major impacts.
This lineup can put up 15 runs any given day, but has also been notorious for laying eggs from time to time. This lineup was the tale of two halves in 2021. Here is a comparison of the first and second halves for the Cardinals batting lines:
First Half: .230/.302/.379 with an OPS+ of 88
Second Half: .261/.328/.451 with an OPS+ of 114
If the team can put together a complete season that is anywhere close to their second half numbers, this offense can carry the club into the postseason. If there continues to be major variance day to day, the Cardinals will have a hard time not falling behind the Brewers in the division and teams like the Padres, Giants, Phillies, and Mets in the Wild Card race.
There is reason to be optimistic about the club’s offense though. Although the tear they went on in September may be next to impossible to replicate, their offensive output flipped beginning in July, and seemed to be more of a sign of things to come rather than a fluky streak. With new bats like Pujols, Dickerson, and Gorman added to the bunch as well, there is room to really take off this season.