Prediction #4 - Jordan Walker wins Rookie of the Year and receives MVP votes
This was a pretty aggressive prediction, but one I would do over again if you replayed the Cardinals' 2023 season 100 times to see how things would play out.
Walker's talent is there, and he really came into his own down the stretch at the plate while making major improvement defensively. In many ways, I think the 2023 season was one of the worst possible outcomes for Walker, and yet he still was a guy who showed he could be a force at the plate.
Upon his recall in St. Louis in June, Walker slashed .277/.346/.455 with a 120 wRC+ after making some adjustments to his swing to take advantage of the big-time power he has. The last two months of the season were even better, as those numbers rose to .286/.356/.470 with a 126 wRC+. For context, a 120 wRC+ would have been the 42nd-best in baseball and 3rd among rookies who qualified for the leaderboards, and the 126 wR+ would've put him as the 27th-best hitter in baseball.
I really do believe that if the team was performing better at the beginning of the year, Walker may have done better in his first month of action, or if the Cardinals had started him in Triple-A, he would have made a major splash with those numbers nationally. What Walker showed upon his return to St. Louis is that he is an emerging star, and it was his defensive struggles and the lack of team success that really overshadowed the production at the plate.
While Corbin Carroll was the runaway Rookie of the Year winner in the National League, guys like TJ Friedl and Nick Castellanos got MVP votes in 2023. If Walker's bat plays like it did from June on and his defensive improvements are real, I could easily see him receiving a few votes in 2024.