The 20 most important Cardinals in 2023: #10 Dylan Carlson
The former first-round pick by the Cardinals in 2016 was coming off a strong rookie season in 2021 where he finished behind Reds Jonathan India and Marlins Trevor Rogers for rookie of the year, he had his struggles in 2022.
As we see with lots of athletes the second full season can be a struggle, and we saw that at times with Carlson. His production offensively went down in year two, especially in the power department, where he only hit 8 home runs versus 18 homers in 2021. Some lingering injuries involving his hand and wrist may be a reason why we saw a significant drop in his home run total. One positive was that he cut down on the strikeouts, his strikeout percentage went down to 19.3% last season after having it over 24% in 2021. He finished 2022 with a 100 OPS+, which equates to right at the league average.
Despite this decline, it's obvious that the front office has faith in him. The Cardinals traded away the best defensive center fielder in baseball Harrison Bader at the deadline last season and did not pull the trigger on acquiring Nationals superstar Juan Soto in a trade that for sure would've included Carlson going the other way. That sounds like to me that the Cardinals are confident he can turn into the player that we are going to want to keep around for a long time. So Carlson will need to be an important piece in 2023.