5 bold predictions for the St. Louis Cardinals this Spring Training

Here's five bold predictions for the Cardinals in 2024.
St. Louis Cardinals v Chicago White Sox
St. Louis Cardinals v Chicago White Sox / Quinn Harris/GettyImages
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Lars Nootbaar will be selected as an All-Star

Despite an injury-riddled 2023 campaign, there's an argument to be made that Lars Nootbaar was the Cardinals' best player last year. He ranked third on the team in bWAR, but just 0.1 point behind Willson Contreras and Paul Goldschmidt despite only playing 117 games. Of course, with as bad a season as the Cardinals had, nobody was truly an All-Star caliber player throughout the full season, but if the All-Star Game was held at the end of the season instead of the middle, there was an extremely solid case for him to be the lone St. Louis All-Star.

He slashed .261/.367/.418 for a 115 OPS+ which he combined with solid defense throughout the Cardinals' outfield. However, after hurting his thumb on Opening Day, a midseason back injury, and a late-season groin contusion, he never got consistent enough playing time to get fully ramped up. During his longest stretch of uninterrupted baseball, however, he played much better.

For this prediction to come true, Nootbaar simply needs to play a full first half of the season and maintain his performance from last year. With left field depth in the National League extremely thin, Nootbaar should easily be able to outperform the rest of the competition aside from Diamondbacks rising star Corbin Carroll.

Nootbaar's International stardom should also boost his chances of being voted into the All-Star Game. After gaining 1 million followers on Instagram following Japan's World Baseball Classic run, Nootbaar could easily be voted in by his immense Japanese following. However, I don't think he'll need to rely on his popularity to get in. If he keeps up his performance, he'll make it in on merit.