Why is Tommy Edman important for St. Louis in 2023?
Edman isn't expected to be one of the Cardinals' top hitters. That role will be left to Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, along with anticipated improvements from last year's season-ending outfield trio of Tyler O'Neill, Dylan Carlson, and Lars Nootbaar. Oh, and possibly a certain wunderkind who is putting on quite a display in spring training.
There are various lineup spots where Edman's skill set would work. His speed would be nice for a leadoff hitter, though his middling on-base percentage isn't ideal. The #2 hole is another historically typical spot for his skill set, though teams are skewing away from that traditional usage. Putting Edman lower in the lineup - anywhere from #6 to #9 - would be feasible, with him serving as a second leadoff hitter at the bottom of the lineup perhaps being the optimal fit.
Defensively, Edman almost certainly will be the everyday shortstop, and he has shown strong skills at the position. After winning a Gold Glove in 2021 at second base, he was a finalist there last season despite playing just over half his games at the keystone. Even if he's only above average at shortstop and not Gold Glove-caliber, he allows the team to be better at other spots.
Edman at shortstop puts DeJong firmly in a backup role, where his stellar defense can be utilized more strategically. This setup also allows second base to be covered by a combination of Brendan Donovan and Nolan Gorman. Donovan is a great leadoff candidate with his strong on-base skills, while Gorman provides significant power, so manager Oliver Marmol can start either one depending on the needs of the day.
The well-rounded skill set Edman brings isn't particularly exciting or flashy. However, his broad base of above-average abilities is always helpful, especially with the flexibility teams are searching for these days. The Cardinals are expected to be a very good team this season, and Edman contributes to the team's success by being a very good player.