Offense Grade: A
I get it, if you want to look at the end of the season numbers for the Cardinals' offense in 2024, it was not worthy of an "A" grade by any means. But the Cardinals were a top 7 offense in almost every statical category before the trade deadline last year, but as the injuries piled up in the second half and the team fell out of contention, it was rare to see their lineup even look close to its full strength.
Coming into 2024, you guys like Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt who are hungry and motivated to bounce back from down seasons. Arenado specifically seems primed to rebound in a big way, as he was barely above league average on the season offensively due to a terrible second half when his back was even more of an issue.
Nolan Gorman, Lars Nootbaar, and Brendan Donovan all missed various amounts of time last year as well, and all three were building upon their prior success at the plate when they were healthy. Just being on the field consistently would help this offense a ton, let alone any steps forward that the trio can take.
Speaking of taking steps forward, Jordan Walker really came into his own at the plate last season once he got comfortable lifting the ball more, and many of the projection systems coming into this year have Walker as the Cardinals' best hitter this season. If Walker truly takes that kind of step forward and establishes himself as one of the young stars in baseball, the currently projected seven-hole hitter for St. Louis may be pushing guys like Goldschmidt, Gorman, or Nootbaar down in the order.
Someone who flew mostly under the radar offensively last year was Willson Contreras. After a terrible beginning to the season, Contreras was a top-5 hitter in all of baseball for the last three months of the season. This lineup is just littered with guys who can do damage at the plate, something that Brandon Kiley of 101 ESPN pointed out when looking at Steamer projections for 2024.
As of right now, the Cardinals lineup will look something like this on Opening Day:
DH Brendan Donovan
1B Paul Goldschmidt
LF Lars Nootbaar
3B Nolan Arenado
C Willson Contreras
DH Nolan Gorman
RF Jordan Walker
CF Tommy Edman
SS Masyn Winn
Few lineups boast that mix of impact bats and lineup depth. Expect the Cardinals offense to be a top-5 unit in 2024, which is why it was an easy choise to give them an "A". Like with any team, if injuries are a theme for their position player group in 2024, the lineup should still be good, but it will leave some to be desired like it did last year.