5 reasons to be excited about the St. Louis Cardinals in 2023

jbuchheit
St. Louis Cardinals Photo Day
St. Louis Cardinals Photo Day / Benjamin Rusnak/GettyImages
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4. The progression of second-year players

It's always interesting to see how players can build on their rookie seasons. For 2023, the focus will be on Nolan Gorman and Brendan Donovan. Gorman's 2022 season was somewhat of a disappointment, earning him a demotion at one point. Donovan's season, on the other hand, was a resounding success; he hit .281 and displayed his utility, playing all over the field.

The question for Gorman is whether he can tap into the stats that show he has a lot of promise. His hard-hit percentage and exit velocity are much higher than the average player's, and his launch angle is solid; he minimizes pop-ups and doesn't hit the ball on the ground too often. Another question regarding Gorman, and perhaps a more pressing one, is whether he can improve his bottom-tier fielding at second base.

It could be a tough task for Donovan to repeat his rookie season. With his lack of power, pitchers shouldn't be afraid to go after him, and his low exit velocity portends a dip in his .330 BABIP from last year. Nevertheless, he will provide value for being able to play nearly anywhere, and even if he takes a step back at the plate, he should continue to contribute in some manner.

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