St. Louis CardinalsOur expert from ScoutPRO.com,Shawn Childs, helps you prepare for your big fantasy baseball draft.
St. Louis Cardinals Team Projection
St. Louis continues to be one of the best teams in baseball. They have made the playoffs 10 times in the last 14 years and have won two World Series titles. Last year, they won the NL Central and made it to the World Series before being run over by the bearded bandits from Boston. Their offense has improved in each of the last 4 years. While they finished 3rd in the majors in runs (783), they were 27th in HR's (125). Their success was helped by a low K total (1,123 - 26th). St. Louis has an exciting young pitching staff (average age in 2013 was 26.9). The Cardinals allowed their lowest amount of runs (596 - 3.42 ERA - 5th in the majors) since 1985. Furthermore, they allowed the 2nd lowest amount of HR's (112). In the offseason, St. Louis lost OF Carlos Beltran, SS Rafael Furcal, P Edward Mujica, and P Jack Westbrook. They signed Jhonny Peralta to take over at short and 2B Mark Ellis for infield depth. Their big offseason move was acquiring OF Peter Bourjos from the Angels for 3B David Freese. Overall, the Cardinals should be the favorite to win the NL Central in 2014 with their eyes on their 12th World Series title.
1. 3B Matt Carpenter
Carpenter did a great job as a leadoff hitter for the Cardinals in 2013, leading the NL in runs (126), hits (199), and doubles (55). He was on base 269 times, plus he hit 11 HR's. His walk rate (10%) is above average, while his K rate (13.7%) was much stronger than his 2012 season (18.5%). He was very good against RH pitching (.329) and held his own against lefties (.294). Overall, Matt hit over .300 in 4 of 6 months (May - .352, June - .342, August - .313, and September - .349). His success in batting average was driven by his high LD rate (27.3%). Carpenter was a career .299 hitter in the minors with 28 HR's, 164 RBI's, and 19 SB's in 1,197 at bats. His approach was supported by his minor league resume. His 55 doubles may point to upside in power, but he'll need to get some more loft on the ball. Last year, he didn't run, but he had 11 SB's in the minors in 2010. Matt looks like solid .300 hitter who will score plus runs. However, his power is limited to maybe the mid teens with short speed. Additionally, his RBI rate (22%) has been excellent in his 2 seasons in the majors. This year, he will still be an edge at 2B, but his value takes a big hit down the road if his power doesn't develop and if he only qualifies at 3B.
2. 2B Kolten Wong
St. Louis traded away Freese to create an opportunity for Wong, but they also brought in Mark Ellis as insurance. The Cardinals gave him 59 at bats in the majors last season, but he only hit .153 with no HR's and 3 SB's. Wong hit .301 during his minor league career with 24 HR's, 122 RBI's, and 50 SB's in 1,129 at bats. His walk rate (8.3%) should come in about league average, while also having a low K rate (12.5%). He tends to be a GB hitter (60.9% in his short at bats in the majors), which will restrict any upside in power early during his career. His skill set may work well batting 2nd in the Cardinals lineup if he can handle the step up to the majors. Ellis has a solid glove and is more than serviceable if Kolten isn't ready to make a step forward. It might make sense to handcuff Wong with Ellis if your team has enough bench space. Possible 30 SB upside with upside in batting average in the near future.
3. OF Matt Holliday
Holliday has hit 20 or more HR's in 8 straight seasons and has 5 seasons with more than 100 RBI's. Last year, he missed a couple of weeks of the season with a hamstring injury, plus he dealt with a back and an ankle injury. His K rate (14.3%) was much lower than the previous 2 seasons (18.0% in 2011 and 19.2% in 2012), while his walk rate (11.5%) remains in a good area. Matt played his best ball over the last 2 months of the season (.346 with 9 HR's and 44 RBI's in 185 at bats). He had an elite RBI rate (20%) and his R % (46%) was at the top of the chart. Additionally, he had almost the same success against RH (.301) and LH (.298) hitters, but struggled to hit HR's against lefties (1 HR in 121 at bats). His power has declined over the last 3 seasons due a short FB rate (33.5% in 2011, 35.0% in 2012, and 33.6% in 2013). Overall, Holliday is a rock solid .300 hitter with 25+ HR power. The Cardinals lineup gives him upside in runs and RBI. However, his speed isn't really a part of the equation any more. His lack of at bats, lack of HR's, and lack of RBI chances will lead to him being somewhat overlooked on draft day.
4. OF Allen Craig
Craig will move to the outfield with Adams taking over at first base. He has had an elite RBI rate (22.0%) during his career and it was even better last year (24.0%) despite a short HR total (13). His K rate (17.8%) is just above the league average, while his walk rate (7.1%) is a notch below the league average. He missed the last 3+ weeks of the season with a foot injury. Allen hit better against RH pitching (.327), but he had more power against lefties (6 HR's in 126 at bats). From May to August, he hit .331 with 13 HR's and 78 RBI's. He had a plus LD rate (26.9%), which led to a low FB rate (28.1%) and a 50% drop in his HR/FB rate (11.2% - career low). Craig is a career .300 hitter in the majors, but he hasn't played over 134 games in any season. The move to the outfield will invite injury risk for him. His AVH (1.450) had a big regression, so his upside in power is limited. I love his RBI rate, but I hate the move to the outfield. Solid major league bat that will see time on the DL.
5. 1B Matt Adams
Adams will be an interesting player in 2014. He hit .318 during his minor league career with 82 HR's and 293 RBI's in 1,442 at bats. His K rate (25.1%) was much higher than his minor league career (17.1%), while his walk rate (7.2%) was just above his minor league mark. Last year, he did most of his damage against RH pitching (.295 with 14 HR's in 244 at bats). He hit 3 HR's in 52 at bats against LH pitching, but he had 19 K's (36.5% K rate) with no walks. In 2011 and 2012 in the minors, Adams hit .294 against LH pitching with 12 HR's and 40 RBI in 221 at bats (24.0% K rate). His lack of contact against LH pitching will restrict his upside in batting average in the near future. However, his HR/FB rate (21.8%) is elite. Adams has 30 HR upside, but his batting average may have some short term risk until his approach improves. It may make sense to bat him clean up to break up the Cardinals top 2 RH hitters, but he may need time to develop to handle that role. Let's throw out .270 with 28 HR's and 88 RBI's as a baseline. Overall, an interesting player that has an upside bat for sure.
6. C Yadier Molina
Molina has developed into a top catcher, but his power may not have 20 HR upside. He set a career high in runs (68), RBI's (80), and BA (.319). Yadier had a bump in doubles (44), but his AVH (1.497) regressed. His K rate (10.2%) has been elite during his entire career, but it was his highest since 2007. His walk rate (5.6%) was his lowest since 2005. Molina had success against both RH (.315) and LH (.333) pitching. He did struggle with a knee issue over the 2nd half of the year, which led to a 2 week stint on the DL. I have to give Yadier credit for working hard to become a better hitter, however, his only real edge is his batting average. His value is slightly lower than the top catchers in the game due to him not having as high of an option of getting at bats at DH or another position. Possible upside, but the key to his value will be HR's. The Cardinals have a solid offense, so he should get his fair share of runs and RBI's.
7. SS Jhonny Peralta
The 50-game suspension for Peralta didn't hurt his chances of getting a nice contract. The Cardinals signed him to a 4-year, $52 million contract in November. Jhonny has hit for a high average in 2 of his last 3 years. His K rate (21.9%) was his highest since 2007, and it has declined over the last 3 seasons. However, his walk rate (7.8%) was a just below his career average. Peralta hit .352 against LH pitching with a .560 SLG %. Jhonny isn't an elite shortstop bat, but he has hit over 20 HR's 4 times during his career (only once since 2008). His K rate is trending down and his batting average doesn't look repeatable. Low upside across the board with no speed.
8. OF Peter Bourjos
Bourjos was a player that looked like he had a 10/30 skill set heading into the 2013 season. He hit .313 in April with 2 HR's and 8 RBI's before suffering a hamstring injury late in April. For the month, his K rate (20.8%) was too high for his skill set, and he had a short walk rate (4.2%). The injury cost him 6 weeks of the season. When he returns in June, he suffered a left thumb injury 2 weeks later. Within a week, Peter suffered a broken bone in his right wrist that cost him another 7 weeks of the season. The wrist bothered him when he returned and he eventually had surgery in early September. Bourjos is a career .291 hitter in the minors with 41 HR's, 225 RBI's, and 141 SB's in 1,951 at bats. He has 40 SB upside with possibly double digit HR's. He has been a GB hitter (50.5%) so far during his career. Peter doesn't have the ideal skill set to bat near the top of the lineup due to a short walk rate (5.6%) and an below average K rate (22.1%). Possible source of speed, but he isn't a lock to get full time at bats. His plus glove and range give him the edge over his competition.
9. OF Oscar Taveras
Taveras had a tough season in 2013. He injured his right ankle in mid May that required surgery in August, but is expected to be ready for spring training. He is a career .320 hitter in the minors with 45 HR's, 275 RBI's, and 34 SB's in 1,437 at bats. Oscar has played about 1/3 of a season at AAA, so he is really close to being ready for the majors. He played 34 games in CF and 6 in RF last year. Possible impact rookie bat who would make a very good handcuff for Bourjos or Craig. I expect Oscar to push Bourjos to the bench over the 2nd half of the 2014. If he hits well, he could move to 2nd in the batting order. The recovery from his ankle injury is key for him this year.
10. C Tony Cruz
He will be the backup catcher again in 2014, but he has very little fantasy value due to short at bats. Cruz is a career .236 hitter with 2 HR's and 30 RBI's in 314 at bats.
11. 2B Mark Ellis
He will compete with Wong for playing time at 2B this season. Ellis is a career .265 hitter with low double digit power and speed. Ellis may get the majority of at bats against LH pitching.
12. SS Daniel Descalso
His lack of bats will lead to him being a utility infielder this season. Daniel is a career .243 hitter with short power and short speed.
13. OF Jon Jay
His lack of power and speed will deem him a 4th outfielder in the majors. Jay might be a more stable bat than Bourjos. He is a career .293 hitter with 23 HR's, 171 RBI's, and 37 SB's in 1,733 at bats.