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Friday, March 1, 2019

2019 FANTASY BASEBALL SPRING TRAINING REPORT: ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Jupiter, Fla.--The St. Louis Cardinals have universally been known as one of the premier organizations in baseball; combining constant yearly contention and some World Series appearances thrown in as well.  Unfortunately, the Cards have had a bit of a playoff drought the last few seasons and it is a development the team is trying their best to prevent from becoming a trend.  So with that in mind, here are some of the more pressing subjects about the team going into the new season from a fantasy baseball perspective.

1.  One of the young players who the Cardinals will look to lead them into a new era of playoff baseball undoubtedly is outfielder Harrison Bader whose 2018 rookie campaign opened a bunch of eyes when he hit 12 home runs and stole 15 bases in 138 games.  Alas, Bader is still a clear work in progress as he his 29.3 K/9 was brutal and pronounced struggles versus righties is a slash trend no hitter wants.  That being said, the former third-round pick has decent upside and we all love power/speed assets such as Bader in terms of how it helps in fantasy baseball.  So while we won't suggest chasing Bader in drafts this spring, he does warrant inclusion as a mid-round upside pick.

2.  One of the more pressing questions regarding any player in baseball this spring is whether Cardinals veteran 1B/3B Matt Carpenter can repeat the staggering 36 home runs and 111 RBI he compiled a year ago.  While Carpenter had solidified himself previously as a solid 25-homer bat, the jump to 36 last season seems to reek of being an outlier and when you factor in the guy is 33 and with a long injury history, the risk of a repeat seems minimal.  Remember, you never want to pay for a career-year and especially for someone who is aging with a checkered health past.

3.  It can be considered a bit of a bummer for new Cards first baseman Paul Goldschmidt trading the launching pad in Chase Field in Arizona to the pitching-leaning confines of his new home but the fact of the matter is that the perennial All-Star remains in play as one of the very best at his position.  Even after a very scary brutal start to 2018, Goldy rebounded to hit 33 homers and collect 95 RBI while batting .290.  There should be no issues for Goldy in terms of average, homers, RBI once again this season as he remains in his prime at the age of 31 but his once solid ability to help in steals is quickly becoming a thing of the past.  Consider that Goldschmidt stole a massive 32 bags in 2016 but then slipped to 18 and then 7 the subsequent two seasons.  That looks like a clear trend to us and remember that turning is usually when the steals begin to drop for a player.  As long as you don't pay for steals, an investment in Goldy should go nicely again.

4.  The Cardinals rotation have a real gem on their hands in power-armed Jack Flaherty and a 10.85 K/9 rate and 3.34 ERA last season seem to be him just scratching the surface at the age of 23.  Still Flaherty needs to get his 10 percent walk rate under control to fully unleash his full potential but there are few better young power arms in the game.  Bid aggressively.

5.  It appears as though Andew Miller will be the favorite for saves in the Cardinals bullpen instead of the emerging Jordan Hicks but this also appears to be a bit of a fluid situation subject to change.  We say Miller should be considered the favorite due to his vast experience edge over Hicks and for the fact he has been a monster strikeout pitcher when healthy.  That health didn't follow Miller into 2018 however and so there is some concern on that front.  Keep an eye on both this spring but Miller is the guy to target.


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