Why the Cardinals need Brendan Donovan to be their Ben Zobrist, not primary 2B

Cincinnati Reds v St. Louis Cardinals
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Brendan Donovan's versatility unlocks the Cardinals in a crucial way

The St. Louis Cardinals found another under-the-radar prospect turned impact Major Leaguer last season in Brendan Donovan, as he finished 3rd in National League Rookie of the Year Voting and won a Gold Glove at the utility spot. While Donovan recently ranked 7th among all second basemen according to MLB Network, his greatest value to the club will come if he is utilized more like Ben Zobrist.

Most fans would agree that Donovan's versatility makes him a real asset for the Cardinals, and yet, it's been easy to pencil him in at second base in starting lineups without thinking twice about it. When the Cardinals field their nine best players in any given lineup, it's likely that Donovan slots in at second base, but if the club were to lock him in there most days, it would likely take away from the club's overall potential.

There are a few different reasons why this has been the case though. First, the "disappointing" rookie season from Nolan Gorman (air quotes used intentionally, more on that later) has caused many to cast him aside as a secondary option, with his main path to at-bats being at the DH spot or when Donovan has a day off. On top of that, rule changes with the shift seem to have hurt Gorman's chances at being an average defensive second baseman even more, putting even more focus on Donovan being the everyday guy there.

Brendan Donovan should be an everyday player for St. Louis, but if things go the way they are hoping, he should not be an everyday second baseman. Let's look at exactly why Donovan should be used in the Ben Zobrist mold in 2023, and how it could actually look on a consistent basis.