3 truths and 3 myths for the Cardinals after the first month of the season

As we enter May, most teams are figuring out what is true about their team and what is false. The Cardinals have clear indicators as they now climb out of last place.
St. Louis Cardinals v Detroit Tigers - Game One
St. Louis Cardinals v Detroit Tigers - Game One / Duane Burleson/GettyImages
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1. Alec Burleson is unlucky

We are on year two of Cardinals fans defending Alec Burleson saying he is an unlucky player. You can continue to look at his savant page which shows lots of red, but his hard-posted numbers continue to disappoint. His xBA is .313 which is 94th percentile, but his actual BA is .273. His xSLG is .509 ranking 87th percentile, but his actual SLG is .394. He is riding a league-average OPS of .718 and has only produced four extra-base hits. He is also a defensive liability without having a clear future on what position he can start in. A player with a 0.1 WAR after a month of play is not unlucky, he is just not a dynamic player.

2. Lars Nootbaar is an elite outfielder

Before fans get irate about reading this myth, let me state this: Lars Nootbaar is a good player. He has been a steady player in the lineup who can always be relied on due to his consistency. That is not an issue at all, as it provides certainty to the team and confidence with the lineup configuration. But the issue here is that we have seen the best of Lars Nootbaar. He has a high floor, but a short ceiling. Fans will salivate at savant data stating we are about to see a power surge from Noot along with his great defense.

But instead, you will be getting slightly above-average offense, reliable defense, and a great clubhouse personality. So far in 2024, he has not looked great which can be credited to starting later due to recovering from a rib injury. His OPS+ is 74 which is below league average and he has a 0.0 WAR which is not showing any results of production. But maybe this will turn around in May. Noot is a good player, but not an elite player.

3. Veteran leadership will turn the Cardinals around

Credit is given to Sonny Gray, Lance Lynn, and Kyle Gibson. They have looked great so far in 2024 and their performances have helped the Cardinals win ballgames that would've been lost causes in 2023. But are the Cardinals better because of their leadership? Or better because they are actually producing results that were lacking to do inadequate MLB players used in 2023? Other veteran leaders brought in for 2024 have been a waste of roster space.

Brandon Crawford somehow continues to get starts at shortstop and is taking innings where they should be given to Jose Fermin or honestly, let Masyn Winn start every game since he is option number one. Crawford is long overdue for a DFA. Matt Carpenter has been injured with a right oblique strain and hasn't contributed much even when he is playing. Now you can say these veteran guys are shaping the clubhouse culture which is leading to better performances for the rest of the team. But it isn't, as we are seeing poor performances from star players Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, Nolan Gorman has looked lost for most of the early season, and Jordan Walker is sent back down for a second time when he is supposed to be a major contributor to this team in 2024.

The Cardinals are still a last-place team, and they have roster spots being wasted by guys who should be out of the league.