Cardinals' manager Oliver Marmol is expecting a "big year" from this young slugger

If Nolan Gorman is able to stay healthy in 2024, the St. Louis Cardinals expect the slugger to produce in a big way for them throughout the season.

St. Louis Cardinals v Baltimore Orioles
St. Louis Cardinals v Baltimore Orioles / G Fiume/GettyImages

The St. Louis Cardinals have a chip on their shoulders as Spring Training has gotten underway.

Returning veterans like Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, Miles Mikolas, and Steven Matz want to bounce back from down years. New acquisitions like Sonny Gray, Lance Lynn, and Kyle Gibson want to prove themselves in St. Louis. But what I am most excited to watch this coming season is how the young bats take on the challenge of becoming household names in Major League Baseball.

Cardinals' fans are very familiar with guys like Jordan Walker, Nolan Gorman, Lars Nootbaar, Brendan Donovan, and Masyn Winn, but on a national level, they still are not recognized as some of the premier young talent in today's game. When MLB Network asked Cardinals' manager Oliver Marmol about those young bats though, he was quick to rave about one young slugger in particular.

"When you talk about Gorman", Marmol said, "The season we are expecting from him, the way he's prepared this offseason to just get his body right in order to be in the lineup more often and just stay healthy, he's done some meaningful things to make sure that happens. So we are expecting a big year out of him. This is a power bat that uh, he's scary when he's right."

The full interview can be found in the embedded tweet below.

If you've listened to Marmol this offseason, you'll know how high he's been on each player from this young core. He's one of many who continues to praise Donovan for his leadership and on-field performance. He's about as high as anyone is on Walker and Winn. Nootbaar, even going into last year, was the outfielder Marmol trusted the most out of a deep group of players. It's clear though from this quote that Marmol recognizes the kind of difference Gorman can make for this club if he's healthy.

I've talked about this numerous times on the site already, but Gorman's breakout 2023 season in many ways was "muted" by the historically bad month of May he had. During that 76 plate appearances stretch, Gorman had just a .439 OPS and 22 wRC+, making him perhaps the worst hitter in baseball. In the other 338 plate appearances during the 2023 season, Gorman posted an .880 OPS and 137 wRC+, both of which would have been top-15 among all qualified hitters in baseball. When Gorman is on, which is more often than not, he literally performs like one of the best 15 hitters in the game today.

Gorman is a streaky hitter by nature, so it's not fair to expect him not to have low moments during the course of a season. But I think it's pretty safe to say he won't have that bad of a month again, which already makes his numbers in his second big league season elite. The real question around Gorman is whether or not he can stay healthy, which is something Marmol seems to believe he's figured out how to do.

Gorman has been dealing with back issues since a lifting injury in 2020, and that limited him to just 119 games in 2023. If Gorman is able to play in 140+ games in 2024, that makes a huge difference for this offense, and he'll likely provide the Cardinals with 30 or 40 home runs from the left side in the process.