St. Louis Cardinals 2015 Season Preview
Odds To Win Division: +125
Odds To Win NL Pennant: 13/2
Odds To Win World Series: 12/1
Regular Season Win Total: 88.5
Most Significant Offseason Changes
Charlie Villanueva, P
Mark Reynolds, 1B
Matt Belisle, RP
Shelby Miller, SP
Justin Masterson, SP
Pat Neshek, RP
Jason Motte, RP
Daniel Descalso, 2B
They’ll Be Successful If…
Even with the loss of Shelby Miller, the Cardinals have a terrific pitching rotation. The front office of the Cardinals is arguably the best in baseball. Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn and John Lackey head a rotation that has been successful in both the regular season and playoffs. Wainwright won 20 games in 2014 and has been a dominate force since 2008, posting a .660 winning percentage over that stretch. Lackey, another veteran pitcher, was a pivotal part of the Boston Red Sox World Series roster in 2013 and should have a fine season for the Cardinals in 2015. Lynn is only entering his fourth Major League season and has cemented himself as a great starting pitcher. Having won at least 15 games in each season of his career and posting a career low ERA of 2.74 in 2014, Lynn should once again shine in 2015. Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez round out the rotation. Both pitchers have minimal Major League experience, but have seen success in their brief time with the Cardinals’ organization. They are young and hunger, and ready to prove themselves in 2015. The organization has consistently built an impressive roster and has willingness to make savvy moves to maximize their roster’s success. Even after a relatively mundane offseason, the Cardinals are still favoured to win the NL Central. John Mozeliak, the Cardinals general manager (hired in 2007) has never fielded a team with a losing record, and the likelihood of his streak being snapped this season is very low.
They’ll Be Unsuccessful If…
The National League Central is quickly becoming baseball’s most competitive division. The Cardinals offense does not strike fear into their opponents. The division rival Chicago Cubs had one crazy offseason and jumped quickly from pretenders to contenders. Paired with the emergence of the Pittsburgh Pirates and two underrated squads in the Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds, the NL central is shaping up to be the best division in the Majors. Though the Cardinals are still the NL Central front runners, the increase in competition will make for a very tight race in 2015. The Cardinals offense ranked last in the NL in team home runs in 2015, with a feeble 105, and they did not address this weakness during the offseason. In most offensive categories, the Cardinals ranked below the league average, including in runs per game, stolen bases and OPS. The offensive should improve in 2015 with a healthy Yadier Molina, though he is known for batting for a high average (batting over .300 4 of the last 8 seasons), not for slugging home runs (only one season of 20 or more home runs in his decade long career).
Fantasy Bargain: Jhonny Peralta, SS
In many ways Jhonny Peralta is not the prototypical shortstop, known much more for his power than his speed. That bodes well for fantasy owners. Peralta hit an impressive 21 home runs and clubbed 38 doubles in 2014, in his first season with the Cardinals. His average of .263 in 2014 should climb to around .275 in 2015 and he should crack an OPS of .800 for the third time in five seasons. With Yadier Molina projected to bat one spot behind him, Peralta should see an increase in his runs scored in 2015. Peralta is definitely worth a spot on a team that focused on outfield speed over outfield power.
The Cardinals are one of baseball best run franchises and expect the team to once again perform well in 2015. With a great pitching staff and excellent organization structuring, the Cardinals can easily overcome any shortages caused by their ordinary lineup.
Prediction: 1st In NL Central
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