While the St. Louis Cardinals have shown some signs of life lately, it is fair to say that the 2023 season has been a colossal disappointment. Being in last place at the moment in one of the worst divisions in baseball is not where Cardinals fans thought the team would be as the All-Star break approaches.
In fairness to all those involved, a chunk of this is due to some "bad luck" in the statistical sense. As of writing this on June 28, the Cardinals' run differential sits at -14. While that is far from good, the team's expected record based off of that is 38-40 and the team's actual record is a full five games worse than that.
This also isn't a team that has been bad across the board with their stating pitching being the biggest offender in 2023. The Cardinals still have five hitters (Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, Nolan Gorman, Brendan Donovan, and Lars Nootbaar) that all have wRC+ north of 110 which is a pretty good spot to be in offensively.
However, it can't be ignored that at the end of the day, the Cardinals are who their record says they are. So now we need to look at who has fallen short of the expectations that were placed on them as well as acknowledging those who have been surprisingly good to keep things from being too depressing.
Who have been the biggest surprises and disappointments for the Cardinals this season?
The goal here isn't just to highlight the best and worst players on the Cardinals in 2023 because context does matter here. Some of the following guys were guys that had track records/salaries that meant they were expected to big time contributors. Others are lesser known guys that have really stepped up. Here is a look a the biggest disappointments and pleasant surprises for the Cardinals in 2023.