2017 St. Louis Cardinals Top 10 Insider

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SEASON IN A SENTENCE: St. Louis won 14 fewer games than it had in 2015, but unlike the last time it dropped off that severely—in 2006, when its 83-win team won the World Series—these Cardinals couldn’t even make the playoffs, falling short of a wild-card berth.

HIGH POINT: The Cardinals never won more than five games in a row, but when they had longer streaks like that, they came on the road, where the team went 48-33. Such a peak came June 20-22, when the Cardinals had just lost five in a row at home, scoring just 10 runs, but then went to Wrigley Field and swept the first-place Cubs. Rookie shortstop Aledmys Diaz had three hits, including a homer, in the 7-2 victory that sealed the sweep.

LOW POINT: Losing five of six games in a tight wild-card race is never good, but having two of those losses come in desultory fashion at San Francisco when the Cards were chasing the Giants proved too much to overcome. Former Reds nemesis Johnny Cueto shackled them in a complete-game 6-2 victory on Sept. 15, and the next day the Giants put up six runs in the third off rookie Luke Weaver en route to an 8-2 victory. Another low point arrived in July when former scouting director Chris Correa was sentenced to 46 months in prison in the hacking scandal involving the Astros.

NOTABLE ROOKIES: Diaz, signed out of Cuba in 2014, stunned offensively with a .300/.369/.510 season including 17 homers. His defense at shortstop impressed less. Korean import Seung Hwan Oh lived up to his nickname, as the Final Boss emerged as St. Louis’ closer in the second half and converted 19 of his 22 save tries. Older rookies Greg Garcia (.393 OBP) and Jeremy Hazelbaker (12 HRs) contributed in reserve roles.

KEY TRANSACTIONS: The Cardinals relied on their offseason moves, such as signing Oh and Jedd Gyorko, as well as their farm system.

DOWN ON THE FARM: While Cards affiliates finished 10th in winning percentage at .520, five of them made their league playoffs. St. Louis swept its lower levels, with the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and Appalachian League (Johnson City) titles as well as short-season State College claiming the New York-Penn League. Weaver had a breakthrough season in the minors before breaking into the big league rotation, while top prospect Alex Reyes also made his big league debut, flashing 100 mph heat in a bullpen role.

OPENING DAY PAYROLL: $143,053,500 (9th)

Best Hitter for Average Eliezer Alvarez
Best Power Hitter Paul DeJong
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Tommy Edman
Fastest Baserunner Magneuris Sierra
Best Athlete Magneuris Sierra
Best Fastball Alex Reyes
Best Curveball Alex Reyes
Best Slider Dakota Hudson
Best Changeup Marco Gonzales
Best Control Luke Weaver
Best Defensive Catcher Carson Kelly
Best Defensive Infielder Edmundo Sosa
Best Infield Arm Patrick Wisdom
Best Defensive Outfielder Magneuris Sierra
Best Outfield Arm Magneuris Sierra
Catcher Carson Kelly
First Base Matt Carpenter
Second Base Kolten Wong
Third Base Aledmys Diaz
Shortstop Delvin Perez
Left Field Randal Grichuk
Center Field Dexter Fowler
Right Field Stephen Piscotty
No. 1 Starter Carlos Martinez
No. 2 Starter Alex Reyes
No. 3 Starter Luke Weaver
No. 4 Starter Jack Flaherty
No. 5 Starter Mike Leake
Closer Sandy Alcantara
Year Player, Pos. 2016 Org
2007 Colby Rasmus, of Astros
2008 Colby Rasmus, of Astros
2009 Colby Rasmus, of Astros
2010 Shelby Miller, rhp Diamondbacks
2011 Shelby Miller, rhp Diamondbacks
2012 Shelby Miller, rhp Diamondbacks
2013 Oscar Taveras, of Deceased
2014 Oscar Taveras, of Deceased
2015 Marco Gonzales, lhp Cardinals
2016 Alex Reyes, rhp Cardinals
Year Player, Pos. 2016 Org
2007 Pete Kozma, ss Yankees
2008 Brett Wallace, 3b Padres
2009 Shelby Miller, rhp Diamondbacks
2010 Zack Cox, 3b Marlins
2011 Kolten Wong, 2b Cardinals
2012 Michael Wacha, rhp Cardinals
2013 Marco Gonzales, lhp Cardinals
2014 Luke Weaver, rhp Cardinals
2015 Nick Plummer, of Cardinals
2016 Delvin Perez, ss Cardinals
J.D. Drew, 1998 $3,000,000
Shelby Miller, 2009 $2,875,000
Rick Ankiel, 1999 $2,500,000
Chad Hutchinson, 1998 $2,300,000
Delvin Perez, 2016 $2,222,500

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