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2024 Projections Check In - 54 Games (The Hitting)


In the first 54 games of the season, the first third of the season, the St. Louis Cardinals hitters left a lot to be desired, but so did the rest of the league to be honest. Their wRC+ numbers do not look nearly as bad as I thought they would when I was looking at these numbers compared to my projections. The reasoning behind that is - with full transparency here - that my projections had the league at a .316 wOBA and 4.31 ERA. At the 54 game mark, the league instead had a .307 wOBA and 3.96 ERA. It has been one of the most pitching-centric seasons in history, as Eno Sarris and Jayson Stark outlined over at The Athletic recently (subscription required).


As I did last week with pitchers, today I am going to take a look at the Cardinals position players actual statistics (AVG, OBP, SLG) in 2024 compared to what my system projected them to have this year. Remember 2 things. 1) These stats are from over a month ago at this point and 2) I thought the league would be quite a bit better than it was. I thought the stats by Donovan below would be about league average but instead league average is slightly worse than Herrera below. Here are the actual stats through 54 games:



Now let’s take a look individually at the difference between those actual stats above and what my system projected for the Cardinals position players with at least 20 games played and at least 50 PA - so 12 of the 17 above.


Contreras has been far better statistically than my system had projected for him. He’s back in the lineup tonight (as of June 24th) and his line before his injury was 30+ points of AVG, 40+ points of OBP, and 100+ points of SLG better than my system had projected. Big miss - but in the right direction as a fan of the team - on him.

Herrera’s numbers look like they are way worse than the projections, except for that batting average - and they are. But if you remember that the league line is so far below where I thought it would be, these numbers would actually be a lot closer.


Goldschmidt has been an utter disappointment so far in 2024, at the 54 game mark. His numbers are as far below projected as Willson Contreras’ numbers were above the projections. Ouch.


Nolan Gorman has basically been what I thought he’d be - around 80-90 points higher OBP than AVG (walk rate) and around a 230 ISO, except that his batting average just isn’t there. Like, by 30 points isn’t there. So were he to get more hits, he’s getting them (and getting on base in other ways) just like I thought. He’s just not hitting for average.


Winn is another guy that is hitting like crazy. He’s so much higher than my projections it’s a miracle for the youngster who was worse than those projections last year. He’s a HUGE bright spot. I’m here for it.


At the 54 game mark, he wasn’t Paul Goldshmidt level under his projections, but his slugging was. He has completely lost his slug, and his ISO, which is absolutely a travesty as that is one thing they brought him in for - to be a middle of the order bat and star.


Brendan Donovan came into this season looking to bounce back from an elbow injury and to me it looked like he was seeing if his power was still available to him. It was. His 137 ISO in the first 54 games was better than his 125 projected ISO and is about the same as his 138 ISO from 2023. I believe, by the eye test, I’d have to check the stats, his eye at the plate has gotten better since the 54 game mark and he’s looked more like himself because his average and on base just weren’t there in the first third of the season.


At the third point in the year, Alec Burleson was basically exactly who my projections thought he was but was sacrificing power for a higher batting average. Again, looking through my eye test, he has stepped up the power factor and I’ll be excited to see where he’s at when we get to the two-thirds of the way through the season marker around the end of July or early August.


Lars Nootbaar has been injured off and on - per usual - bat at this point he had over 160 plate appearances and was very similar to Brendan Donovan in that his stats were all right in line except for his batting average. OBP and SLG were about as high as they could be given the average and they’d be about where my projection thought if his average was there…but it just wasn’t. The injuries are becoming more worrisome than O’Neill to me - almost in Luis Robert territory.


Michael Siani has been who we thought he was, no? He’s been thrust into a position he should be in but is clearly the best defensive option for a team that needs as much defense behind its’ pitch to contact philosophy as possible. His numbers are about in line with what we projected and I see no reason that’s changing terribly soon.


Jordan Walker has been, statistically speaking, a complete and utter disappointment in 2024. That said, would anyone be surprised if he comes up and puts up 100-150 PA that bounce his season numbers right back to where my projections were before the year started? I wouldn’t put it past him for sure. I’m not betting against it.


Victor Scott has also been, statistically speaking, a disappointment. The projections for him took into account that he was far above where he should have been at his age with his experience and he failed to reach those low standards. Everyone was looking forward to Whiteyball 2.0 starting with Winn and Scott and Edman, etc…but it’s just not meant to be for now. Like Walker, do I believe we can still see his potential arising for this club in the future.


 

Until next time, when I plan on hopefully taking a look at five relievers the Cardinals could target if they're buyers at the deadline!

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