8 Cardinals who are outperforming projections this year

A quarter mark into the season, several Cardinals are outperforming their projections.
St. Louis Cardinals v Oakland Athletics
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Willson Contreras

Yes, Willson Contreras is injured and will be hurt for the next 8 weeks. However, he has been the single best offensive player on the team, and he has even been among the best hitters in baseball just one month into the season.

If Contreras were a qualified hitter, he would rank 8th in all of baseball in wRC+ at 171 just behind Juan Soto and tied with his brother, William. Contreras has a .280/.398/.551 slash line, and he was crushing baseballs before his injury. He became a bit of a "three true outcomes player, as he had a 27% K rate and a 14% BB rate to go along with 6 home runs.

Contreras's work defensively is part of what led to his injury, but he was showing marked improvements in his framing, receiving, and game-calling. He ranks in the 75th percentile in blocking, the 92nd percentile in caught stealing rate, and the 65th percentile in framing. While his pop time is among the lowest in baseball, his strong arm makes up for his slower release.

ZiPS projected Contreras to slash .241/.339/.427 for an OPS+ of 112. Contreras's .271 ISO and .364 BABIP are well above his projections of just .186 and .288, respectively. Contrera's offensive and defensive numbers across the board are far and away better than his projections. He was one of the few bright spots on the roster to start the season.

His absence will hurt the team's offense, and that alone is proof that Contreras was playing well above expectations.