The Cardinals left-handed bats are key to the offense turning around

While many have said the Cardinals' offense cannot rebound without Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, the club's left-handed bats are picking up the slack.
Boston Red Sox v St. Louis Cardinals
Boston Red Sox v St. Louis Cardinals / Dilip Vishwanat/GettyImages

It's funny, I actually began writing this piece about the St. Louis Cardinals' left-handed bats a few weeks ago when the offense began to heat up, but I got away from it and meant to come back to it. Well, the Cardinals' offense last night left me no choice but to look at this emerging strength of theirs.

The Cardinals have been flawed in their approach to many different things over the last number of years, but their reluctance to let go of one of their left-handed bats recently is not one of them.

Credit to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for banging this drum over the last few years. Today's game requires damage from the left side of the plate in order to be successful in the postseason. When you reach October, that is when pitching is at its very best. Dominant right-handed arms are in every rotation and bullpen, so even the best right-handed sluggers tend to have less success when the postseason arrives. The same cannot be said for left-handed hitters.

Since 2021, here is the difference between how hitters perform in the regular season vs. the postseason by the handedness (stats are from TruMedia).

League average OPS LHH

League average OPS RHH

Regular Season









Production from left-handed bats is crucial for success in today's game, and it makes sense that the Cardinals' offense has exploded since their young left-handed bats have gotten things going. Look at where the Cardinals' offense ranks in all of baseball over the last 15 days.






Cardinals Offense Ranking






The Cardinals offense has gone from a bottom 3 unit to one of the best in all of baseball as of late, and it's those left-handed bats leading the way.

The Cardinals left-handed bats are shwoing they can carry this offense

Starting with the bat that was at the bottom of the "young lefties" totem poll entering the year, Alec Burleson has been showing fans what the Cardinals had been seeing under the hood the last few seasons. Through his first 142 plate appearances, Burleson is slashing .304/.333/.459 (.793 OPS) with a .347 wOBA and 128 wRC+. He's been productive for the Cardinals when the offense was cold and when it's heated up, becoming that steady presence they desperately needed.

Lars Nootbaar started the year on the injured list and was slow getting out of the gates, but to say he's turned things up a few notches in the last few weeks would be a major understatement.

Nootbaar has become very comfortable hitting in the two-hole in the Cardinals lineup between Donovan and Goldschmidt, and when Contreras comes back, the Cardinals should have a formidable 1-2-3 punch at the top of their lineup.

Nootbaar is someone who has continued to show this kind of upside in the Cardinals lineup when he's healthy, but it has felt like every time he hits this kind of stride, he finds his way back onto the injured list. If Nootbaar can keep himself on the field, we may finally see him put it all together for the kind of impact season we've been waiting for.

What is even more impressive is that Nootbaar has been able to put up these numbers while getting the most strikes called against him in the "O-Zone", which are pitches that are in the area right outside the strike zone you would see on the MLB Gameday app.

Brendan Donovan, although he has had a bit of a difficult season thus far, has continued to be the straw that stirs the Cardinals' offense. Check out his splits in games where the Cardinals win against when they lose (stats courtesy of TrueMedia).

Brendan Donovan


















Donovan, when he's at his best, is one of the best lead-off hitters in all of baseball. His ability to get things going at the top of the line helps unlock the rest of the offense. It not only feels like when Donovan gets on base the club does better, but the numbers back that up as well. He also remains one of the Cardinals' most clutch hitters, as we saw last night when he gave the Cardinals a 5-4 lead on an RBI single.

Let's not forget about Nolan Gorman either. He's the guy in this Cardinal lineup who boasts the most power and does so with a good feel for the strike zone. Gorman will gladly take his walks, forcing pitchers to attack him. He has holes in his swing that lead to a high strikeout rate, but when he hits the ball, it typically goes really far. He's actually in the 100th percentile in launch angle sweet-spot%, meaning he really knows how to get the best possible swing on the ball as often as possible, paired with his 93rd percentile Barrel%.

In what can be said about almost every Cardinals hitter, Gorman started the year very slow as well, but now has his wRC+ up to 110 and you can see him getting more and more comfortable at the plate. He went on his first "hot streak" of the year recently, and if he taps into another one here soon or can be steady at the plate, you'll see his numbers continue to rise.

If Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado are not going to be able to carry their share of the load offensively anymore, it does make things a lot harder for St. Louis to be a top offense. But, with that said, these left-handed bats are more than capable of carrying this offense. That's quite the ask from a young group like this, but they are rising to the occasion right now, so why can't they continue that for the rest of the season?

Getting Willson Contreras back will be a huge boost to his group as well. He was producing like one of the best right-handed hitters in baseball before breaking his forearm and was finding a way to help the Cardinals steal some wins with his offense when the team was cold. Imagine what they could do at the plate with Contreras, Nootbaar, Burleson, Gorman, and Donovan all producing? That doesn't even mention the breakout seasons we are seeing from Masyn Winn and Ivan Herrera or the potential of adding Jordan Walker back to this lineup.

Keep an eye on these left-handed bats as the weeks go on. They may just be the key to the Cardinals becoming a playoff team again in 2024. And who knows? Maybe some of that left-handed bat magic helps the Cardinals do some damage once they get there.