Comparing the St. Louis Cardinals preseason projections vs. reality

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Once thought to be the best positional group of the team, the infielders have struggled due to positional shuffling and an underperforming star on the corner. ZiPS had the infield projected for 20 WAR with a combination of Edman/Dejong at short and Donovan/Gorman at second. Nolan Arenado led the team with a projected 5.8 WAR. Contreras/Knizner combined for a projected 3 WAR overall. The infield was clearly the strength of this team, both offensively and defensively (four players with a Gold Glove history).

Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, and Tommy Edman were all projected to have averages above .260 and lead the team in plate appearances. Willson Contreras and Nolan Gorman were pegged to be above-league-average batters in addition to Arenado and Goldy. Lastly, the defense was projected to be very strong, particularly on the left side of the infield (Contreras, however, was projected for negative defensive value). Basically, the infield was supposed to be very strong and the backbone of this team.

However, that has not necessarily been the case. While Goldschmidt and Arenado have been near their 80th-percentile projections, the remainder of the infield has fallen short, particularly at catcher and short. Shortstop has been lackluster due to Edman's transition to the outfield and Paul Dejong's play at the position. Dejong was initially projected to be the fourth middle infielder behind Tommy Edman, Brendan Donovan, and Nolan Gorman. However, he has seen by far the most amount of infield innings of those four. This was not initially in the plans for the team. While Dejong has performed above replacement level (0.7 WAR so far), the team would have preferred him to be a bench piece with Edman, Donovan, and Gorman splitting time up the middle.

Another weakness on the team has been its defense, particularly from Nolan Arenado. Initially projected to have a +9 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), Arenado instead is sitting at -2. His poor defense has severely hurt his overall WAR (1.1 currently and on track for 2.4, projected for 5.8). His offensive stats are on track for his career, but he is having his career-worst defensive season.

Between injuries in the outfield causing positional displacement, a catcher who isn't living up to his contract and career, and a third baseman who appears to have lost his defensive touch, the infield is underperforming its expectations.