5 Cardinals players who could be the difference between success and failure in 2024

These players could make 2024 a winner for the Cardinals or a complete disaster
Cincinnati Reds v St. Louis Cardinals
Cincinnati Reds v St. Louis Cardinals / Joe Puetz/GettyImages
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Paul Goldschmidt

Following an MVP campaign in 2022, Paul Goldschmidt saw a significant drop-off in 2023. So much so that he wasn't even named an All-Star. His league-leading 177 OPS+ dropped to a solid but not MVP-caliber 120 OPS+, and he saw a dramatic dip in his power numbers. His ability to crush fastballs, something he'd been well-known to do, became a weakness rather than a strength. At age 36, it's fair to wonder if Goldschmidt's best offensive days are behind him.

However, the Cardinals are counting on the future Hall-of-Fame first baseman to be a key contributor in the lineup for the 2024 season. While talks for an extension will likely be delayed at least until the season starts, the Cardinals have shown no indication that they will be moving on from Goldschmidt at first base anytime soon. If the Cardinals can get some form of MVP Goldschmidt back in 2024, he will make the already strong lineup even more formidable.

While Goldy's second-half struggles were extremely concerning, it's possible he struggled even more as the team's performance worsened. After posting a very respectable 131 OPS+ in the first half, Goldschmidt was barely above league average in the second half, at 108 OPS+. Hopefully, this regression was due to the poor performance of the team and not because of his age.

Goldschmidt has been working on his swing this offseason to regain his ability to hit fastballs at an elite level, and if he can get back on track the Cardinals could find themselves back in playoff contention. However, if age is catching up to the 36-year-old, the Cardinals lineup may be in big trouble in 2024.