Cardinals' rising star Masyn Winn has a chance to do something special

With an untimely injury to Dodgers superstar Mookie Betts, a golden opportunity has opened for Cardinals rookie Masyn Winn
Chicago Cubs v St. Louis Cardinals
Chicago Cubs v St. Louis Cardinals / Dilip Vishwanat/GettyImages

Cardinals rookie Masyn Winn has done nothing but blow away the expectations of fans coming into the 2024 season. Winn struggled greatly in his first Major League stint at the end of 2023, recording a 23 OPS+ through his first 37 games. Despite Cardinals fans wondering if he had been rushed to the big leagues and tempering their expectations for his performance in 2024, Winn did what he's done at every level of professional baseball: struggle, then thrive.

So far, Winn ranks near the best in all of baseball among position players with 2.4 bWAR and fourth in defensive war (1.0). With a batting average close to .300 and a 121 OPS+, he's one of the leading candidates for Rookie of the Year so far. Moreover, his electric play in the field and his above-average bat will certainly give him significant All-Star consideration, but starting the game was always a long shot. But maybe not anymore.

Sadly for Major League Baseball fans, the leading candidate to start for the National League at shortstop, Mookie Betts, likely won't be available to play the Midsummer Classic in Arlington. After being hit in the hand by a 97 mph fastball in the late innings during Sunday's game against the Royals, the Dodgers star was diagnosed with a fractured hand. While Betts won't require surgery, he'll be out for a while.

There's no real positive spin for Betts' injury, and this especially pains me as a part-time fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers, but this opens a unique opportunity for the Cardinals' young rookie. He'd be just the second Cardinal in franchise history to start the All-Star Game along with Eddie Kazak in 1949. Not even the legendary Albert Pujols accomplished the feat in 2001 as the then-third baseman lost out to Hall of Famer Chipper Jones for the starting job.

Winn's role as the National League's starting shortstop is by no means guaranteed, nor is his participation in the event. However, without Mookie Betts, there's no clear favorite to start for the NL anymore. Winn will have to edge out fellow NL Central shortstops Willy Adames and Elly De La Cruz along with other names such as CJ Abrams and Ezequiel Tovar, but his electric defense and great hitting should garner attention amongst voters. Hopefully, he'll continue performing at the same level and earn the nod, which is determined by a fan vote.

If you'd like to vote for Masyn Winn and other worthy Cardinal players into the All-Star Game, you can vote up to five times a day using this link.