Ranking the value of the Cardinals' 10 best young position players

The Cardinals are loaded with young position players throughout their organization. Who are the most valuable of the bunch?

St. Louis Cardinals v Washington Nationals
St. Louis Cardinals v Washington Nationals / Greg Fiume/GettyImages
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10. Alec Burleson

Coming in at number ten is former top-100 prospect Alec Burleson. In his first full season with the Cardinals, manager Oli Marmol and the coaching staff showed a lot of trust in Burleson by putting him in some big spots throughout the year. He would get starts over Dylan Carlson, bat in the heart of the order at times, and be used as a pinch-hitter in big spots.

Burleson was up-and-down when it came to his performance in these spots and ultimately finished with a .691 OPS on the season, which I think prompted a lot of disappointment from Cardinals Nation. Had Burleson been utilized a bit differently, I think fans wouldn't be so cold on what he can bring to the table.

The Cardinals weren't just throwing Burleson into big spots for no reason. If you look at his Baseball Savant page, Burleson was in the 85th percentile in xBA, 68th percentile in xSLG, 73rd percentile in Hard-Hit%, 91st percentile in Whiff%, and 95th percentile in K%. Burleson also had the second biggest difference between his actual wOBA (.300) and his xwOBA (.337), further indicating how unlucky he was.

I'm not trying to tell you he's going to be a superstar, but the Cardinals saw how good Burleson was hitting the ball and how the results were not lining up for what he should be producing. Positive regression alone should help him out a ton in 2024, let alone any adjustments he can make at the plate.

While Burleson's bat is very promising as a high-average, low-strikeout guy with 20ish home run power, he's a bit limited defensively, which also keeps him lower on the list. He can play in the corner outfield, but he's not going to be an asset out there, and he's currently blocked from consistent opportunities at first base or designated hitter.

Burleson is a weapon for the Cardinals off the bench this year who will keep the offense going on days he gets a start. Long-term, I wouldn't be surprised to see him in a trade to clear some of this logjam and see him blossom as an everyday player elsewhere. But if that opportunity comes in St. Louis, it's only a matter of time before Burleson's bat breaks out.