Writers' predictions for the St. Louis Cardinals 2024 season

Our writers have submitted their predictions for the 2024 season!

Mar 26, 2024; Mesa, Arizona, USA; St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt (46) celebrates
Mar 26, 2024; Mesa, Arizona, USA; St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt (46) celebrates / Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
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J.T. Buchheit (@jbuc14)

Team MVP: Nolan Arenado

Nolan Arenado’s defense should rebound if his back is healthy, and assuming he can stave off age-related decline, his bat will return to the formidable force that it was in the first half of 2023. A return to elite defense and strong hitting should make him a monster on both sides of the ball once again.

Breakout Hitter: Alec Burleson

Alec Burleson led the Cardinals in Deserved Runs Created Plus in 2023, a stat created by Baseball Prospectus. He finished one spot behind Bryce Harper in that category, and while I don’t think he’ll reach Harper’s levels, Burleson is crushing the ball in spring, and there’s reason to think that his breakout is just around the corner. 

Breakout Pitcher: Zack Thompson

If the Cardinals can decide on a spot for Zack Thompson and keep him in either the rotation or, more likely, the bullpen for the entire season, Thompson should flourish. Although most of his stats took a step back last year, he increased his strikeout rate to 9.8 per nine innings. Thompson is having a great spring, and if he carries it over, he can be one of the most dependable bullpen pieces on the team.

Bold Prediction: Alec Burleson becomes a regular starter

Alec Burleson hits around .255 with 15 home runs and finishes the year as a fixture in the starting lineup. As I said in the breakout section, Burleson is poised to hit the cover off the ball; the only question is whether the Cardinals are smart enough to realize it. The injuries to Tommy Edman and Lars Nootbaar should give Burleson plenty of runway early in the season, and I fully expect him to run with it.

Two-sentence team summary:

The Cardinals’ offense improves significantly from 2023 while the pitching does just enough to keep the team in games. The Cardinals finish 87-75, win the division and lose in the NLDS.