The Cardinals have received the second-highest WAR from rookies in the last five years
The St. Louis Cardinals are unapologetically about raising up talent from within their farm system. While it may frustrate fans at times, the Cardinals are very reliant upon young talent from year to year and pour a lot of their time, energy, and resources into identifying young talent and developing said talent.
Whether it's players they've drafted like Tommy Edman, Lars Nootbaar, Dylan Carlson, or Nolan Gorman, or acquired in trades like Tyler O'Neill, Matthew Liberatore, or Juan Yepez, this method of team building is beginning to produce more and more fruit as the years go on, evidence by this recent stat Eno Sarris posted on Twitter.
According to Sarris' research using FanGraphs, the Cardinals rank 2nd in all of baseball in WAR produced by rookie-eligible players over the last five years. That 15.6 WAR is second only behind the Tampa Bay Rays at 17.5 WAR since 2018.
Why is this significant? Getting so much production from rookies while also being a competitive ball club is both a sign of a successful farm system as well as quality roster construction. The more rookies and second-year players you can rely on, the more the club can spend big on free agents and extensions. The Cardinals' ranking in this category could easily grow over the next few years as well with guys like Jordan Walker, Alec Burleson, Gordon Graceffo, and Maysn Winn set to make contributions soon,
The other layer to this is early development opportunities for players so they can flourish in future seasons. Right now, players like Donovan, Gorman, Yepez, and Burleson will have more opportunities to be major contributors later in their club control, while also providing important value to the club now. This is important for maintaining success over a long period of time and opening up World Series windows.
Kudos to the Cardinals' front office for continuing to develop a strong farm system, and I am sure more stats like this will rise up over the coming years.