The end of the baseball season calls for player awards to be distributed. While the Baseball Writers' Association of America votes only for national awards, individual players on teams still deserve recognition for showing up daily for their respective teams. A 162-game season is long; to be able to perform at a high level all year deserves recognition.
For as challenging of a season as 2023 has been for Cardinals' players and fans, there are a few players who deserve individual recognition for their successes this year. The awards that will be presented this year by yours truly will be the same as those given out by the BBWAA: MVP, Cy Young, Gold Glove (just one for the entire team), Rookie of the Year, and Silver Slugger (just one). I'll also add my own: Most Improved Player.
Silver Slugger - Willson Contreras
From a purely offensive perspective, Willson Contreras has been the most productive player for the Cardinals. His 127 wRC+ and 124 OPS+ are both tops on the team. Additionally, Contreras led the team in OPS with a .826 figure. Even though he doesn't lead the team in the counting stats (home runs, RBI, runs scored), if he had a full season's worth of plate appearances, he possibly could have led in those statistical categories.
Contreras has always been known for his bat. Among qualified catchers in 2023, Contreras ranked 4th in batting average, 3rd in wRC+, 2nd in OPS, 5th in home runs, and 8th in runs batted in. With a full season's worth of plate appearances, Contreras could have been a top-5 catcher offensively.
Even though Contreras struggled defensively, he was still able to contribute heavily offensively. Contreras's bat was the strongest on the team, and he is deserving of the team Silver Slugger award.