Andrew Heckroth (@AHeckroth16 on Twitter)
MVP: Nolan Arenado
Arenado ranked second in bWAR among all position players behind Aaron Judge last season. Given his commitment to the Cardinals, you can bet he’ll be on a mission to get St. Louis to a championship. If he can hold off Ke’Bryan Hayes on the defensive side, expect another consecutive Gold Glove.
Cy Young: Miles Mikolas
Mikolas had an excellent bounce-back season after back-to-back injury-filled seasons. His rewards? A trip to the All-Star game, a spot on Team USA, and a brand new two-year, $40 million extension. Mikolas, the team leader in strikeouts with 153, was the only pitcher on the Cardinals roster who eclipsed the 200 innings limit. He won’t do anything flashy like Sandy Alcantara (sorry) or Spencer Strider, but he’s a diligent workhorse who, barring another injury, could give you another 190+ innings.
X-Factor: The Starting Rotation
We know about the potency of the Cardinals' offense. We know that the bullpen has solid weapons to keep the opposition. The question I have about this team is whether this starting rotation can get deeper into games. Adam Wainwright was fairly solid last season, but he’s 41 years old with serious velocity concerns. Jack Flaherty and Steven Matz have promise, but they’ve struggled with injuries. I’m curious as to whether Jordan Montgomery’s 2nd half with the Cardinals is sustainable or if it was just a flash in the pan.
This Cardinals team is solid enough to repeat as National League Central champions with their offense and bullpen. The lack of a true, No.1 ace on the team might cost them a trip to a World Series.
Bold prediction: Jordan Walker finished top-15 in MVP voting
Jordan Walker not only runs away with National League Rookie of the Year, but he places top-15 in the NL MVP voting. The potential this young man faces has media members such as Buster Olney taking notice.