Three St. Louis Cardinals who will improve this year and two who will regress
Progression: Nolan Gorman
Nolan Gorman had issues in his first season. He hit only .226 and struck out 103 times in 283 at-bats. However, he has a chance to be one of the best hitters in the league. His batted-ball stats are absurd. Among players with at least 150 batted balls last year, he was tops in major league baseball in sweet-spot percentage at 46.7%.
Gorman's barrel percentage for batted balls was 14.4%, which placed him at 20th in the league. The crazy stats keep coming: His expected weighted on-base average on contact was .479 — that’s 111 points above the league average.
Gorman still has adjustments to make, and if he’s given enough at-bats, there’s no reason to think he can’t adapt. He should be a big beneficiary of the shift ban given his pull tendencies, and if he can learn to catch up to the major league fastball, he will be a menace.
Defensively, there are a lot of questions about Gorman. His youth discourages a full-time designated hitter spot, so the Cardinals will do their best to make Gorman a passable defender at the keystone. More reps there will only be good for him.