#1 - The Cardinals' lineup is now easily the best in baseball
Around the league, the Cardinals have been touted for having one of the best lineups in the game, boasting high-upside players with a lineup of hitters one through nine in the order. The one "knock" that people sometimes give St. Louis is the lack of a "third or fourth" elite bat, but the emergence of Walker would end any of those concerns.
Sure, teams like the Padres, Phillies, Braves, and Mets can point to their own superstar trios, but none of them have the kind of lineup depth that St. Louis should have this year. On top of Walker, the Cardinals can rely on Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, and Willson Contreras to be consistent, middle-of-the-order bats all season long. Again, assuming Walker belongs as the third or fourth member of that group, that means the club still has the likes of Lars Nootbaar, Tyler O'Neill, Brendan Donovan, Nolan Gorman, Dylan Carlson, Juan Yepez, Tommy Edman, and more names who can mash or get on base up and down the order.
Let's say Walker is 80% the player Julio Rodriguez was last year, that's a .270/.335/.490 hitter with 25 HR, 70 RBI, and 20 SB that the Cardinals just added to the middle of their order. Adding that kind of player to the Seattle lineup made them a playoff team, and adding this kind of player to the Cardinals makes them a legit contender.
At this rate, I'm not sure where Walker would slot in on Opening Day, but should he continue his current onslaught, I see him eventually settling in as the Cardinals' two-hole hitter. Just look at how this lineup could stack up with this Jordan Walker ready to go.
1. 2B Brendan Donovan 2. LF Jordan Walker 3. 1B Paul Goldschmidt 4. 3B Nolan Arenado 5. C Willson Contreras 6. CF Tyler O'Neill 7. RF Lars Nootbaar 8. DH Nolan Gorman 9. SS Tommy Edman
Um. Yeah. How on earth do you pitch to that lineup? People around the league have been talking about Lars Nootbaar breaking out this season, and he could be the club's 7th hitter in their lineup. Nolan Gorman, Dylan Carlson, or Juan Yepez, depending on the matchup, could hit 8th. Tommy Edman, who may be a 40+ SB guy this year and is an above-league average hitter, will be the 9th hitter in their lineup. If injuries or slumps happen, Carlson, Yepez, Burleson, or even the likes of Moises Gomez or Masyn Winn could factor into this team.
Yes, starting pitching is a concern, and we'll get to that later, but Walker's emergence gives the Cardinals the kind of lineup that can win ball games in slugfests, and give even the best pitchers in baseball difficulties. Even if O'Neill, Gorman, Nootbaar, or some others don't have incredible seasons, this lineup is excellent. But odds are, multiple of these guys are about to go off as well.
About that starting pitching? Well, Walker just made it even easier for the Cardinals to go out and get that.