These five Cardinals will outperform their projections for 2024 season

Today we are diving into five Cardinals position players who the ZiPS projections seem to be criminally low on.

St. Louis Cardinals v Miami Marlins
St. Louis Cardinals v Miami Marlins / Sam Navarro/GettyImages
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Nolan Arenado

2024 ZiPS projection: 139 G, .268/.328/.454, 21 HR, 87 RBI, 111 wRC+, 3.4 fWAR

2023 final stat line: 144 G, .266/.315/.459, 26 HR, 71 RBI, 107 wRC+, 2.6 fWAR

2022 final stat line: 148 G, .293/.358/.533, 30 HR, 103 RBI, 150 wRC+,7.2 fWAR

We all know the 2023 season was not what any of us expected from Nolan Arenado, and in all honesty, I'm at least a bit worried about the health of his back going forward.

If, and it's an if right now because we have to see him back on the field, but if Arenado's back is in a good place during the 2024 season, I have zero doubt that he'll smash the over on those offensive projections.

During the first half of the 2023 season, Arenado slashed .283/.332/.518, which was good for a .850 OPS and 126 wRC+, even after a dreadful March/April where he was 37% below league average offensively. Arenado carried a .900+ OPS during the months of May, June, and July, but saw his production nose-dive again in the second half. During those final 58 games, Arenado put up a .241/.290/.373 slash line and a 79 wRC+.

Arenado is not a guy who is going to make excuses, and he did everything in his power to play as often as possible, even with the back issue clearly having an impact on him. He's also a fiery competitor, so I have no doubt he played with a lot of frustration in the second half with the games being "meaningless" when it came to the standings.

Do I expect Arenado to be a 7+ WAR player and post a 150 wRC+ as he did during his top-3 finish in MVP voting in 2022? No, but I also have a hard time believing he's now just a guy who plays good defense and is a pretty good hitter. ZiPS has Arenado projected to be tied for the 105th-ranked hitter in wRC+ in 2024, and I just don't see how one bad season (with a lot of context around it) now has him viewed that poorly in these projections.

Expect Arenado to have a huge bounce back season in 2023, with an OPS north of .820 and wRC+ north of 120 as the floor for his production, as long as his back is not a major issue.