The A-Team: How did the potential 2024 Cardinals lineup perform in 2023?

With the 2024 roster nearly set, I wanted to look at how those players performed in games in which they mostly played together last year.

St. Louis Cardinals v Cleveland Guardians
St. Louis Cardinals v Cleveland Guardians / Ron Schwane/GettyImages
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The 2024 St. Louis Cardinals lineup appears to be set in stone. Who plays against a left-handed pitcher and who plays against a right-handed pitcher could change, but the main core of next year's lineup is set. In no particular batting order, the lineup figures to look something like this next year:

Catcher: Willson Contreras
First base: Paul Goldschmidt
Second base: Brendan Donovan
Third base: Nolan Arenado
Shortstop: Masyn Winn
Left field: Lars Nootbaar
Center field: Tommy Edman
Right field: Jordan Walker
Designated Hitter: Nolan Gorman

That's a pretty potent lineup on paper, and with reserves such as Ivan Herrera, Dylan Carlson, Richie Palacios, and Alec Burleson, the team has plenty of flexibility and talent both in the starting lineup and on the bench. In a perfect world, those nine players would play every game of the season; however, we all know that's not going to happen. Injuries, trades, or underperformance may force Oliver Marmol's hand next year.

I wanted to take a look at how these nine players played together last year. Sadly, Masyn Winn wasn't called up until mid-August, and by then Brendan Donovan was on the injured list. There were sixty-five games where at least seven of those nine players played together last year. That's a decent sample size to see how this lineup would perform next year together.

From a basic statistical standpoint, the chart below compares last season's team stats to the sixty-five games that at least seven of the players above played in. I have dubbed this collection of players the "A" Team.

Roster

Record

Runs Scored

Runs Allowed

Winning Percentage

Run Differential

2023 Season

71-91

4.4

5.12

.438

-110

"A"-Team

27-38

4.68

5.18

.417

-43

There are two numbers there that stand out to me: runs scored and winning percentage. Had the Cardinals averaged 4.68 runs per game last year instead of 4.4, they would have been tied with the Mariners for 12th in the league instead of sitting 19th; conversely, the Cardinals' A-Team last year would have won fewer games given their winning percentage as a group. The pitchers weren't to blame necessarily, as the runs allowed average is similar.

Here is a month-by-month breakdown of the 2024 Cardinals' roster performances in 2023.