3 good and 2 bad lessons from the Cardinals' 2023 struggles

Now that the season appears to be written off, let's take a look back at lessons the Front Office and team can learn from a disastrous 2023 season.

Washington Nationals v St. Louis Cardinals
Washington Nationals v St. Louis Cardinals / Joe Puetz/GettyImages
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The Bad: Leaning into the Trends

Many teams this past offseason targeted speed, defense, and strikeout pitching. With the plethora of new rules (bigger bases, limited shifts, limited pitcher disengagements), teams needed pitchers who could limit basemen, infielders who could cover ground, and players who were willing and able to steal bases.

Instead, the Cardinals lessened their typical defensive prowess by playing Jordan Walker in the majors at a position he just started playing, settling for corner outfielders in center field, and signing a catcher with noted defensive shortcomings. While Walker and Contreras have high offensive ceilings, their defensive abilities are not as strong.

Furthermore, the team's baserunning ability has also decreased significantly. Fangraphs has a useful stat called Baserunning Runs (BsR). This stat measures the runs that are created from stolen bases, double plays, and runners taking the extra base when possible. Last year, the team had a 4.7 BsR. This year, they are sitting at -6.5 with only Brendan Donovan, Nolan Gorman, and Paul Goldschmidt sitting above 1.0 BsR. This places them at 25th in the league. In a year where baserunning should be up, the Cardinals are going in the opposite direction.