The St. Louis Cardinals' 7-3 win over the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday night showcased why none of the outfielders at the major league level were moved at the MLB trade deadline and further complicated the logjam down the stretch.
Lars Nootbaar, Jordan Walker, Tyler O'Neill, and Alec Burleson all launched home runs against one of the better pitchers in baseball, Joe Ryan. The four outfielders jumped on the Twins' pitcher early, scoring all seven runs by the third inning.
O'Neill has been a reliable hitter since coming off the 60-day injured list on July 20 against the Chicago Cubs. In 12 games, the gold glover has a .310 average, going 13-42 at the plate with two home runs and 6 RBIs. Though the power numbers have only begun to show, his .956 OPS jumps off the page.
With his solid bat and his above-average defense in the outfield, O'Neill is already securing his spot in the Cardinals outfield for the rest of the season and going into the 2024 offseason as the everyday left fielder.
Walker is having an outstanding rookie season for the Cardinals. After being sent down to AAA Memphis in the early parts of the season, Walker has come back and received consistent playing time, and his numbers are starting to catch up to the hype that was placed on him in spring training.
With another multi-hit effort against the Twins on Wednesday, Walker's average climbed back up to .270. He launched his 10th home run of the season into the visiting bullpen at Busch Stadium and drove in his 29th run.
Arizona Diamondback All-Star Corbin Carroll is almost a lock for National League Rookie of The Year, but Walker's performance this season should not go under the radar.
His OPS+ this season stands at 110, which is tied for fifth-best on the team with Willson Contreras. If Walker can start to become, at worst, an average defender, then the Cardinals have a true star in the making in the 21-year-old outfielder.
Nootbaar has continued to put together a great season for the Cardinals. In his second full season at the major league level, Nootbaar is hitting .279 on the year with 11 home runs and 36 RBIs and holds an OPS+ of 126.
This is a tremendous improvement over last season's effort that still left the Cardinals beaming over the 25-year-old. At the end of the 2022 season, Nootbaar tallied 14 home runs and 40 RBIs and held a .228 average. He has solidified himself as an asset for the Cardinals.
Burleson has continued to get playing time, as his positional flexibility has allowed him to occasionally play first base for Paul Goldschmidt. He has settled into a platoon-type role for the Cardinals as a power bat from the left side.
He and Dylan Carlson are finding themselves on the outside looking in regarding the outfield plans for manager Oliver Marmol. However, both Burleson and Carlson were highly-touted prospects and, at their young age, still have much to prove at the MLB level.
Neither was dealt at the trade deadline and after the offensive outburst from the outfielders on Wednesday against the first-place Twins, it only adds to the guarantee that someone will be moved in the offseason.
For now, Marmol and the Cardinals should continue to manipulate the matchups on a daily basis while trying to find playing time for Walker in the outfield. St. Louis has five outfielders who could start every day on almost any other MLB team, a problem they should be lucky to have.