St. Louis Cardinals lineup with Willson Contreras
Let’s talk about the really fun part of this – the improvement to the Cardinals lineup. In 2022, the Cardinals catching position produced a .552 OPS over the course of the season, ranking 28th in all of baseball. In 2022, Contreras posted a .815 OPS, bringing a big bat to what was a major weak spot in the Cardinals lineup.
Not only does it upgrade the catcher position at the plate, but when Contreras starts, the lineup becomes much deeper than it was before. Here is one way the Cardinals lineup could play out next season.
- RF Lars Nootbaar
- 2B Brendan Donovan
- 1B Paul Goldschmidt
- 3B Nolan Arenado
- C Willson Contreras
- LF Tyler O’Neill
- DH Jordan Walker
- CF Dylan Carlson
- SS Tommy Edman
Without any moves being made, the club still had a bench of Nolan Gorman, Juan Yepez/Alec Burleson, Paul DeJong, and Andrew Knizner. The additions of Contreras and Jordan Walker to their lineup should mean the Cardinals have at least an above league bat at every spot in the order, with big thumpers in the form of their MVP duo, and potentially more in the form of Contreras, Walker, and Tyler O’Neill.
One underrated part of Contreras’ plate skills is his ability to hit right-handed pitching, something that the Cardinals were hoping to improve on this off-season.
An over .800 OPS against both handedness is a great asset for St. Louis, and Contreras’ ability to get on-base against righties is what is really needed. Against left-handed pitching, he does not get on-base as much, but he destroys the baseball.
What will be interesting to see is how the Cardinals choose to deploy Contreras other than at catcher. Will he be the designated hitter on his off-days? If so, does that mean the club now needs to carry three catchers?
I may change my opinion on this, but with so many different DH options already on the club, I would rather sit Contreras when he needs a day off from catching, and hope to squeeze out more starts behind the plate because of that. Nolan Gorman, Juan Yepez, and Alec Burleson are great options to start on his days off, no need to push Contreras too hard on a long-term deal.
What will the Cardinals do with the rest of their off-season in preparation for the 2023 season? Let’s take a look at where their budget stands and what assets they still have to trade from.