The St. Louis Cardinals’ struggling and stagnant offense is becoming a problem that could impact their season if it doesn’t change soon.
Before the regular season, both manager Oli Marmol and president of baseball operations John Mozeliak pinpointed the offense as a unit with elite potential for the St. Louis Cardinals.
How could they not? With Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt, as well as sneaky MVP candidate Tyler O’Neill, they certainly had the starpower. They had young slugger Dylan Carlson, emerging outfielder Harrison Bader, Tommy Edman at second base and future Hall of Famer Yadier Molina behind the plate. The biggest question mark was Paul DeJong, but the organization believed he would bounce back after a couple down seasons.
While Arenado and Goldschmidt have been as advertised, O’Neill has struggled mightily after a breakout 2021 season. Bader has come back down to Earth, hitting .233/.304/.359 in 115 plate appearances. Edman, of course, has been even better than he was in 2021 and has solidified the second base position. But Carlson and DeJong have been their two biggest disappointments this season, with DeJong being optioned to Triple-A as the Cardinals admitted their mistake at keeping him instead of signing a replacement in a loaded 2021 free-agent shortstop class.
Just take a look at these offensive splits from John Denton of MLB.com:
In 17 wins, Goldschmidt, Arenado, Edman, Albert Pujols and Molina have hit 28 home runs while slashing .239/.313/.376. But they have scored more than three runs in 16 of 32 games and only four players with an OPS over .800, with two of them being recent-call ups Juan Yepez and Brendan Donovan.
To put it lightly: Not great.
To reach their potential, and to be in the same conversation with the Milwaukee Brewers and Los Angeles Dodgers, the Cardinals will need every one of their hitters to step up. Keeping up with either team, especially the Dodgers, becomes infinitely more difficult without O’Neill playing to his full potential. Perhaps that comes now that his arbitration case is behind him. We should soon find out.
But the early signs from the offense are disappointing and if there aren’t improvements, there may be a scapegoat. The Cardinals have too much invested and too much on the line for this to continue.