Cardinals
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Spring training has begun, and with it comes the thrill of watching your favorite players, old and new, begin their workouts.

For the St. Louis Cardinals, this especially is an exciting time, as a busy offseason brought in the electrifying presence of Nolan Arenado. They brought back the tandem of Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright, and unloaded the questionable Dexter Fowler to Anaheim.

Will Nolan Arenado live up to the hype surrounding him? Is this the final year for Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina? Can the Cardinals retain their 2020 form with a return to the playoffs?

There is much to ponder over the next few months, and it looks like it will be an exciting season!

The Lineup

The lineup is one of the biggest questions for the Cardinals, and has been for the last several years. Nolan Arenado is one of the biggest question marks: How will he fare outside of Coors Field? Will his production decrease? I wrote an article here that answers many of those questions.
Matt Carpenter is another question. Can he return to his 2018 form? History and aging will say this is impossible, subsequently, you should look for him to be a bench player for most of the season. Tommy Edman, the #4 hitter for the Stanford Cardinals, will continue to improve as he transitions into the leadoff position. His average and OBP should increase as he gets more comfortable at the Major League level.

Look for Paul Goldshmidt to continue his MVP-caliber offense that he had in Arizona. An extension of his 2020 campaign is a good marker for the production we can expect.

Potential Starting Lineup

2B, Tommy Edman .250/.317/.368
1B, Paul Goldschmidt .304/.417/.466
3B, Nolan Arenado .253/.303/.434
SS, Paul DeJong .250/.322/.349
RF, Dylan Carlson .292/.372/.542 (Minor league numbers from 2019)
C, Yadier Molina .262/.303/.359
LF, Tyler O’Neill .173/.261/.360
CF, Harrison Bader .226/.336/.443
P, Jack Flaherty

The Bench
UTIL, Matt Carpenter, OF, Lane Thomas, C, Andrew Knizner, OF, Justin Williams.

The Rotation

Cardinals’ pitching historically has been the best in MLB. The Cardinals Way of developing homegrown talent has been taken to new levels by John Mozeliak’s purport for drafting pitchers. As they say, “Pitching wins championships.”

The 2021 Cardinals rotation looks strong enough to win the NL Central. Jack Flaherty is the unquestionable ace. Looking at Flaherty’s 2019 season, with his 11-8 record, 2.75 ERA, 231 Ks in 196 innings pitched, he is the Cardinals #1 candidate for the Cy Young Award.

Adam Wainwright had a renaissance, and the remainder of the rotation will hold consistent. The depth behind the starting five is excellent, for instance arms as Carlos Martinez, Alex Reyes, and Matthew Liberatore.

Many look at Jack Flaherty’s inflated 4.91 ERA and assume he had a disappointing 2020, but he had one bad outing, against the Brewers on September 15th. 9 earned runs in 3 innings pitched. Take out that start, and his ERA plummets to 3.13, a much better number.

Starting Rotation
Jack Flaherty
Adam Wainwright
Miles Mikolas
Kwang Hyun Kim
Daniel Ponce De Leon

Defense

With 5 gold gloves dotting the infield and outfield, look for the Cardinals to be one of, if not, the best defensive teams in the National League. Defense only degrades with age, and the Cardinals have the 7th youngest team in MLB.

Both Nolan Arenado and Yadier Molina each boast four Platinum Gloves to their name, awarded each year to the best defensive player in each league. Tyler O’Neill, one of the fastest players in MLB according to StatCast, won his first Gold Glove in 2020, and therefore, O’Neill should remain one of the Cardinals’ best defensive outfielders. Along with Harrison Bader in center field and Dylan Carlson in right, this outfield is one of the youngest and best defensively in MLB.

This, in turn with the excellent pitching, will make the Cardinals one of the hardest teams to score against.

The Division

The National League Central is one of the most competitive divisions in baseball, as four of the five teams are in contention. The Cardinals appear to be the favorite, since the addition of Arenado, but the Cubs or Brewers could have a bounce back year, and some of the Red’s young talent could shine forth.

Alternative Fantasy Baseball Projection – St Louis Cardinals – Over 85.5 Wins

St. Louis Cardinals’ Yadier Molina singles for his 2,000th career hit during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Conclusion

This will be an exciting year for every NL Central fan, unless you like the Pirates. The Cardinals are a strong team on paper, and with only a month until Opening Day, and we won’t have to wait long to see if that carries through.

The St. Louis Cardinals should win over 85 games, which should be enough to carry the division, or at least a wild card spot. The St. Louis Baseball Team will be playing October baseball, and a 12th World Series Title is not too far out of possibility.

The Cardinals’ Opening Day record, since their inception in 1882, is 73-64-1. Since 2010, their record is 5-6.

They open the season in Cincinnati against the Reds, with a three game series spanning April 1-4. At the other end of the schedule, however, they end their season with a three-game set against the organization’s long time rival, the Chicago Cubs.

Alternative Fantasy Baseball

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One thought on “St. Louis Cardinals 2021 Preview: Alternative Fantasy MLB Outlook

  1. Wow, this is a great synopsis. I’m looking forward to reading more of Mr. Kingston’s work.

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