4 perplexing mysteries that the Cardinals must unravel

The St. Louis Cardinals have to figure out the solutions to these head-scratchers if they want to succeed in 2024 and beyond.
St. Louis Cardinals v Miami Marlins
St. Louis Cardinals v Miami Marlins / Rich Storry/GettyImages
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Baseball is an unpredictable sport, and the season's length provides for many twists and turns. Memorial Day is often cited as the day where teams know what they are for a season, and if that's any indication for the St. Louis Cardinals, the team looks to be painfully average.

But even average teams have stories woven throughout the year, and many of these tales are ones of mystery. Why isn't a player reaching his normal heights? What happened to a pitcher's spin rate? Teams' abilities to solve and rectify these questions are what separate the good organizations from the bad ones.

The Cardinals would love to piece together these four puzzles and get to being a model organization again.

Dylan Carlson's collapse

Expectations were high for outfielder Dylan Carlson after his first full season in 2021, where the team's former top prospect slashed .266/.343/.437, but he has taken a step back in each of his three seasons since then and appears to have reached rock bottom in 2024. In 45 at-bats, Carlson has managed only five hits, which is good for a .133 batting average and a .369 OPS.

Carlson has also regressed in the field. After amassing six defensive runs saved in center field in 2022, Carlson had zero in 2023 and is at -1 this season in both center field and right field. The Cardinals wouldn't receive anything of significance if they attempted to trade Carlson, which is a far cry from John Mozeliak's famed utterance that other teams could pry Carlson from his "cold, dead hands."

The Cardinals toyed with the idea of having Carlson drop switch-hitting and hit only from the right side, where he is far superior in his career: His average batting right-handed is .297, while he has hit only .218 batting from the left side in his career. Carlson has minor league options available, so the Cardinals could demote and let him work on ditching switch-hitting in a lower-pressure environment.

Pitchers have clearly learned how to attack Carlson, and Carlson hasn't been able to adjust. With his struggles to even put together competitive at-bats, one must wonder if Carlson has lost confidence at this point and needs a mental reset in Triple-A Memphis