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?

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#8 - Willson Contreras

Willson Contreras was at the center of controversies surrounding the 2023 Cardinals' team as the scapegoat for many of the Cardinals' pitching concerns early in the season. So much so that he was removed from catching duties for a week or so before being reinstated as the primary catcher. As the heir to Yadier Molina, Contreras was extremely important to the Cardinals' success in 2023, and because it was mishandled to such an extent, the Cardinals collapsed.

However, with the emergence of Ivan Herrera and the addition of Yadier Molina to the staff, the weight is off Contreras this season as the Cardinals' primary catcher. Herrera's bat is too valuable to simply serve as a backup catcher, so instead he and Contreras will split time behind the dish and Contreras will serve as a DH when Herrera catches. He's still very important as one of the top bats in the Cardinals' lineup, but with Herrera tearing up the Caribbean league this winter, there should be less pressure on Contreras.

He struggled mightily in the first half, but due to bad luck and a lack of confidence instilled by the front office, many off-the-field factors inhibited Contreras' success on the field. Now that Molina can guide him defensively and he's more comfortable with the organization, I expect to see a revamped Contreras in 2024. He was one of the most valuable hitters in all of baseball throughout the second half of last season but it was too late for his performance to mean anything to the team's success.

Without as much turmoil surrounding his viability as a defensive catcher and pitch calling, and a backup with a far more powerful bat than the glove-first Andrew Knizner, I'm excited to watch Contreras reach his full potential.