Ranking the 10 most important St. Louis Cardinals players for the 2024 season

There's many crucial players to the Cardinals' success in 2024, but who are the most important?

St. Louis Cardinals v Cincinnati Reds
St. Louis Cardinals v Cincinnati Reds / Aaron Doster/GettyImages
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#9 - Paul Goldschmidt

Paul Goldschmidt's 2022 MVP season was absolutely historic, so some regression was expected in 2023, but nobody predicted how far Goldy's bat would fall. He was still very good by most metrics, but a drop in his OPS+ from 177 to 120 was not expected. 120 was the second-lowest OPS+ Goldschmidt recorded in a full season during his career, and many are concerned this regression is a sign of things to come for the 36-year-old entering the final year of his contract with St. Louis.

While a return to MVP-caliber numbers would be nice for Goldy, it's not as essential that the Cardinals get this production from Goldschmidt as they do from other hitters. Brendan Donovan, Alec Burleson, Luken Baker, and even Willson Contreras can man first base whenever Goldy needs a breather and the emergence of another young bat such as Jordan Walker, Nolan Gorman, or Lars Nootbaar could replace Goldy's offensive production in the heart of the Cardinals' order.

Don't get me wrong, Goldy producing at an above-average level is still extremely important to this team's success, but having one of the Cardinals' cornerstones this low on the list may be surprising to some. His presence as a future Hall of Famer and a veteran in the clubhouse is still much needed, but as Goldy continues to age, it just seems a bit unreasonable to expect him to put up the same numbers he has since his arrival in 2019.

An extension may come toward the end of the season, but Goldy's time in St. Louis may be nearing its end. If the Cardinals are indeed looking to move on from Goldschmidt at first base, they've already got plenty of internal options to fill the eventual void.