Bold Prediction #2 - Jordan Walker wins Rookie of the Year, has a 135 wRC+
Let me start off by saying, this is my hope and bold prediction for Jordan Walker, not my expectation of him. Expecting Walker to have a 135 wRC+ season, which would put him in a similar category as Michael Harris II's rookie season, is unfair to put on the shoulders of a 21-year-old. I do think we can expect Walker to be an above-league-average hitter, but anything more than that should be icing on the cake for this season.
I just happen to think he will provide a whole lot of icing for this Cardinal lineup.
Walker has been recognized both inside the Cardinal organization and nationally as the kind of prospect that St. Louis has not had since Oscar Taveras or Albert Pujols. Walker blends together his raw power, speed, and bat-to-ball skills to mash in an exciting way. In a lineup where he will not be relied upon heavily, I think it will allow him to flourish. Allowing Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, Willson Contreras, and the rest of the supporting cast to be the foundation of the offense takes so much pressure off of Walker this year.
By season's end though, I predict Walker will bat second or fifth for the Cardinals. When Walker puts all of his tools together, he is the kind of guy who can do the damage you want in the middle of your order, but also continue to get on base at an elite clip.
So with all of that, Walker will run away with the Rookie of the Year award in 2023, and if he's not in All-Star consideration in 2023, he will be in 2024.
As far as award-winning, I predict another Cardinal will take home some hardware in 2023.