St. Louis Cardinals: Four Players With The Most To Prove In Spring Training

Spring Training
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 14: Matt Carpenter #13 of the St. Louis Cardinals looks on prior to playing against the Washington Nationals in Game Three of the National League Championship Series at Nationals Park on October 14, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)

Pitchers and catchers reported on Tuesday for the St. Louis Cardinals. There are many questions heading into Spring Training. What does the outfield look like? Who takes the final rotation spot? There’s so much to look for this spring for the Cardinals. They are a young team with a mix of veterans but also they have a bunch of grinders. I’ll be interested in what the 2020 Cardinals will look like as we look at the players with the most to prove in Spring Training.

Four Players With The Most To Prove In Spring Training

Matt Carpenter

It was not a good 2019 campaign at all for Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter. This came after an MVP-caliber season in 2018. Last season, he had a batting average of just .226 with 46 RBI and 15 home runs. He found his power the past couple of seasons so many think he hasn’t been hitting to all fields like in the past because of that. He’ll be the starting third baseman heading into the 2020 season he knows what he has to do in Spring Training. Carpenter acknowledged that he had a bad season and even apologized to the Cardinals to the front office and fans for underperforming. He plans to show off a new swing this season and he better if he wants to keep his job and return to the Carpenter we all know and love.

Harrison Bader

Harrison Bader is one of the best defensive center fielders in the game but that’s it. His bat hasn’t been producing near as much as they need it to. He had a long slump last season and was even sent down to the minors at one point. His struggles at the plate were overlooked by his glove and speed but that shouldn’t be the case this season the way the overall offense performed last season. 2020 will be a critical year for Bader. If he can even hit at league average, he will be a lethal weapon for the Cardinals.

Tyler O’Neill

Through a stretch of baseball last season, Tyler O’Neill has shown what he can be offensively, both good and bad. When he got his opportunity last season, he had a stretch where he crushed the ball. He was hitting home runs left and right and getting key hit when needed. O’Neill also has shown the worst side of his offensive game. Swinging at balls in the dirt was a major problem for him last season. He has a lot of power and pop so if he can show a better eye at the plate, he can play a huge role on the team. He will need to hit his way into the lineup or at least to get opportunities because there’s a log jam in the outfield.

Carlos Martinez

It was an eventful 2019 campaign for Carlos Martinez. He was stuck in a bullpen role because he wasn’t ready or healthy enough to start. Martinez was the teams closer through half of the season due to an arm injury to Jordan Hicks. He struggled at times but showed he still has his stuff. This Spring Training, Martinez is prepping as if he will be in the starting rotation this year. He’ll have competition with Kwang Hyun Kim starting oversees for Korea over the past few seasons. He wants to prove that he can still be a really good starter and if he is, this rotation will be one of the best in the league.

The 2020 St. Louis Cardinals

2020 is a big year on so many levels for the Cardinals. Last season, the offense was concerning. They were near the bottom or at the bottom in almost every offensive category, even in the postseason. They were shutout or scored less than three runs in a lot of games last season. It was also pathetic in the playoffs. Yes, they went to the NLCS but certainly not because of the offense. Strikeouts were a huge concern, especially in the series against the Washington Nationals. In the playoffs, they had a team batting average of .201 had a whopping 48 strikeouts when they got swept by the Nationals. They also lose Marcell Ozuna who played a big role throughout the season. These players will need to step up if they want to take the next step and that starts in Spring Training.

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