The 10 Cardinals with the most to prove during Spring Training

Coming off a terrible 2023 season, these ten Cardinals have a lot to prove as Spring Training gets underway.
St. Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs - Game One
St. Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs - Game One / Nuccio DiNuzzo/GettyImages
4 of 10

Alec Burleson

While 2023 was not the rookie campaign that Alec Burleson or the Cardinals wanted for him, the organization has remained pretty bullish on Burleson's potential as a hitter, but gave him some pretty direct challenges this winter regarding his defense.

At Winter Warm-Up, Burleson said the club was straightforward with him about their lack of trust in him defensively, and that he needed to put in work this offseason to change their opinion. Burleson lost weight over the winter with the goal of coming into camp more agile and prepared for the 162 game season.

At the plate, Burleson has some adjustments to make as well, but his .691 OPS doesn't tell the full story for him at the plate. Burleson had really good underlying metrics in 2023 and was extremely unlucky at the plate throughout the year.

Even with that being the case, Burleson will feel the pressure this spring to perform, as the opportunities for playing time are not going to be easy to come by.

In the outfield, the Cardinals have already committed to the trip of Nootbaar, Edman, and Walker as their starting group, and those three should be everyday players. After that, Dylan Carlson is the clear fourth outfielder, especially with his ability to play center field. While Burleson should still see time out there, opportunities will be limited barring injuries, and even someone like Brendan Donovan or Victor Scott II could end up eating into opportunities.

While the Cardinals value Burleson's left-handed bat off the bench, there's a chance that roster construction limitations could even force him off the roster, especially if they trust Matt Carpenter to provide value in spots for them off the bench. Someone like Thomas Saggese could be rostered over Burleson due to his infield versatility.

While first base and designated hitter are natural spots for Burleson, those spots may be even more limited than the outfield. Goldschmidt plays most days, and when he's off, Donovan may also get starts at first base as well. That designated hitter spot will often rotate between Goldschmidt, Arenado, Contreras, Gorman, Donovan, and even Walker, all of whom are higher than Burleson on the depth chart.