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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Masyn Winn

Shortstop is arguably the position with the least depth on the St. Louis Cardinals roster. Other than Masyn Winn, the only other viable Major League shortstop the Cardinals have is Tommy Edman. However, Edman is slated to be the Opening Day starter in center field, and injury concerns have left his availability for Spring Training questionable. With Paul DeJong no longer in St. Louis, and the Cardinals not signing one of the big shortstop free agents in 2021 or 2022, the Cardinals are relying heavily on Winn in 2024.

Winn broke out in a big way last season with Triple-A, as his bat developed much quicker than was expected, but his call-up to the Major Leagues was disappointing, to say the least. In 137 plate appearances, Winn recorded a .467 OPS and a 29 OPS+. Sure, this was a small sample size and nothing to be too concerned about, but if Winn truly isn't Major League ready yet or his bat never fully develops the Cardinals could be in big trouble.

This past weekend at Winter Warm-Up, Winn noted that he wasn't taking the starting shortstop role for granted, and he promised that he would work hard to earn the job at Spring Training. However, if Winn struggles in Spring or can't figure out Major League pitching, moving Edman from center field could leave holes elsewhere. Dylan Carlson, who had an abysmal 2023 season, would have to fill in center field, or Victor Scott II another glove-first prospect who hasn't proven himself offensively yet.

Personally, I'm extremely excited to see Scott in the big leagues, but rushing him could hurt his development especially if he isn't fully ready. However, if Winn can perform as a league average bat, his promising defense will make him one of the top shortstops in the league, lengthening the Cardinals lineup and elevating the team to the next level.