St. Louis Cardinals 2020: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

How will things shape up in the NL Central?

After a relatively prolonged dry spell, the Cardinals returned to the champagne showers of October with their 11th division title in 25 years, and from the saturated clubhouse carpet one veteran predicted the sprouting of “a new dynasty.” They have a royally good rotation, but it’s the offense that feels flat. The Cardinals scored the fewest runs of the 10 playoff teams and were the only one to rank in the bottom half for slugging. The departure of cleanup hitter Marcell Ozuna leaves a deeper crater to fill. They hope the desired production springs from a pack of unproven outfielders to pair with the fortification of what always makes them an annual contender, a deluge of arms.

 

Opposing Scouts Size Up the Cardinals

St. Louis Cardinals logo“Paul Goldschmidt probably had his worst season, and yet you look up at the end of the year and he’s right around 35 homers, 100 RBIs and 100 runs. He should be comfortable from Day 1 and be even better now. Kolten Wong did everything right last year, and I really like Tommy Edman; I don’t know if he’s an All-Star, but think of him as a very light Alex Bregman because he does a little bit of everything. Tyler O’Neill intrigues me; he’s making himself a better hitter, and he’s really benefited from the Cardinals’ instructors. What we saw from Jack Flaherty in the second half is the real guy — he’s got incredible late movement that makes hitters look really awkward. Adam Wainwright is a master, such a leader for that staff, and Miles Mikolas shows these guys what a weapon command can be. Dakota Hudson walks too many guys for me, and I don’t know if he’ll be much better than we’ve seen. Carlos Martinez is an intriguing weapon wherever they use him, but if he really does go back to the rotation, they’re a little thin in that bullpen.”

 

Beyond the Box Score

 

Goldy standard Before he set foot in St. Louis as a Cardinal or played a regular-season game for the home team at Busch Stadium, Paul Goldschmidt agreed to commit long term. A conversation that began over coffee in the spring training clubhouse became a five-year, $130 million extension for Goldschmidt in March and the richest deal in Cardinals history. The new contract begins in 2020, and with it the Cardinals have their best fixture at first since Albert Pujols.

 

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In Better hands In a makeover never seen in baseball before, the Cardinals went from leading the majors in errors with 133 in 2018 to committing the fewest (66) in 2019. Only the 1935 Chicago White Sox — who made the second-fewest errors one year after committing the most — have come close. The Cardinals’ pivot on defense was rooted, first, in Goldschmidt’s arrival; second, in Kolten Wong’s brilliance; and, third, embracing more aggressive defensive shifts that made St. Louis the most efficient team at turning grounders into outs.

 

Simba rising After more than two decades of agonizing waiting, Ted Simmons, the greatest hitting catcher in Cardinals history, was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020 by the Veterans Committee. An eight-time All-Star, Simmons had seven seasons batting .300, and, among full-time catchers, he ranks second all-time in hits, doubles and RBIs. His reaction to induction? “Relief. Complete and total relief.”

 

London calling For the second time in two seasons, the Cardinals will travel internationally, this time hosting the Chicago Cubs in a two-game June visit to London. The Cardinals, once content homebodies happy to nurture a regional tradition, have broadened their horizons, traveling to Mexico in 2019, increasing the number of games they broadcast in Spanish and looking for ways to build a bigger brand in areas such as Puerto Rico. The Cardinals gave up two games at Busch Stadium in 2020 to participate in baseball’s second visit to London Stadium.

 

Wrigley wipeout To clinch their first berth in the playoffs since 2015, the Cardinals did something they had not since 1921: They swept a four-game series at Wrigley Field. Each game of the late-September series was won by a run. Three of the wins came with a lead claimed in the Cards’ final at-bat, and in the finale, they tied the game and took the lead in the ninth, effectively eliminating their archrivals from contention.

 

Projected Lineup

 

LINEUP

RF     Dexter Fowler (S)

2B     Kolten Wong (L)

1B     Paul Goldschmidt (R)

SS     Paul DeJong (R)

3B     Matt Carpenter (L)

C      Yadier Molina (R)

LF     Lane Thomas (R)

CF    Harrison Bader (R)

 

BENCH

OF    Tyler O'Neill (R)

C      Matt Wieters (S)

UT    Tommy Edman (S)

INF   Edmundo Sosa (R)

C      Andrew Knizner (R)

 

ROTATION

RHP     Jack Flaherty

RHP     Miles Mikolas

RHP     Dakota Hudson

RHP     Adam Wainwright

RHP     Carlos Martinez

 

BULLPEN

RHP     Ryan Helsley (C)

LHP     Andrew Miller
RHP     Giovanny Gallegos

RHP     John Brebbia

LHP     Brett Cecil

RHP     John Gant

LHP     Kwang Hyun Kim

RHP     Alex Reyes

 

2020 Prediction: 1st in NL Central

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