The Cardinals have finally found their third big bat in the form of Nolan Gorman
For the last two years, it seems like the St. Louis Cardinals have been missing that "third big bat" in their lineup that can mash alongside Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado.
During the 2021 season, it felt like Tyler O'Neill had emerged as that guy, especially after an extremely hot September where he hit .328 with 13 home runs and 30 RBI during that stretch. Unfortunately, injuries robbed him of a repeat 2022 season, but he's showing flashes of production again in 2023.
Albert Pujols arguably filled that void once again after his historic second-half run with the club last season, but he has now retired and left a hole in the Cardinals lineup.
One way the Cardinals decided to address that need was by replacing their awful offensive production from the catcher position with a big bat in the form of Willson Contreras. Last season, Cardinals catchers ranked 27th in all of baseball with a 68 wRC+. The Cardinals went from being 32 points below league average at the plate from the catcher position to having a guy in Contreras who can rank about 20 or so points above league average - a 50-point swing.
While Contreras is still a big bat and is a quality third option on this team, the emergence of Nolan Gorman this year should establish him as the club's third-best bat in the near future.
This is no slight to Contreras or O'Neill, or even a guy like Jordan Walker, who is very well on pace to be a superstar in the near future. This just says a lot about who Gorman is becoming.
There are three specific ways this emergence from Gorman transforms this Cardinals' lineup, and could mean trouble for opposing pitchers all year long.