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The Sports Daily > Cards Diaspora
The Cardinals Just Don’t Have The Talent To Compete

You get a call.

The number isn’t one you have saved, but it does have a 314 area code and you were just scrolling through Instagram anyway, so you pick it up.

It’s John Mozeliak, General Manager of the St. Louis Cardinals. He has just offered you a position on the major league team. MLB minimum salary of $535,000.00 (prorated) to finish out the ’17 season.

You’ll immediately join the Palm Beach Cardinals to sharpen your skills with a plan to call you up to The Show after the All-Star Game break in July.

Do you accept?

Of course you do. You could be doing anything with your life at this exact moment… and you’re reading a Cardinals blog yapping about a team that’s 6 games under .500.

Will you make a difference for the team?

Probably. The team will be much worse every game that you play. For some perspective, one of the least effective players in all of baseball for 2017 is Albert Pujols who currently has a -1.0 WAR. Even a diminished El Hombre is much, much, much, much, much better than you are.

You just don’t have the talent to compete.

Sorry.

This little day dream isn’t meant to make you feel bad about yourself. You do many amazing things – things that no current MLB player could do. And it would be ridiculous for anyone to expect you to join the Cardinals and make a (positive) difference.

The expectations between the baseball talent you posses and the results you could produce are calibrated correctly.

For some reason, though, when it comes to the actual 2017 Cardinals, there are some (dare I say several) that believe that the team is somehow under-performing. That 6 games below .500 heading into the last week of June is an aberration instead of correct pacing.

More directly: the Cardinals don’t have the talent to be much more than a .500 team.

I’ve been making the argument (at least in personal conversations) for a couple of weeks that the Cardinals don’t have a single player on the current roster that is a top 5 talent at any position. Like most of my baseball arguments, I didn’t really take the time to research my position – I just kind of threw it out there and hoped it’d stick.

Turns out…

FIRST BASE

Highest Cardinals WAR – Matt Carpenter (11th in MLB)

5 players Cardinals fans would most certainly take over the current Cardinals employee:

  1. Paul Goldschmidt
  2. Anthony Rizzo
  3. Joey Votto
  4. Freddie Freeman
  5. Logan Morrison

SECOND BASE

Highest Cardinals WAR -Kolten Wong (25th in MLB)

5 players Cardinals fans would most certainly take over the current Cardinals employee:

  1. Jose Altuve
  2. Josh Harrison
  3. Javier Baez
  4. Chris Taylor
  5. Jed Lowrie

SHORTSTOP

Highest Cardinals WAR -Aledmys Diaz (21st in MLB)

5 players Cardinals fans would most certainly take over the current Cardinals employee:

  1. Carlos Correa
  2. Corey Seager
  3. Andrelton Simmons
  4. Xander Bogarts
  5. Trea Turner

THIRD BASE

Highest Cardinals WAR – Jedd Gyorko (4th in MLB)

5 players Cardinals fans would most certainly take over the current Cardinals employee:

  1. Nolan Arenado
  2. Kris Bryant
  3. Manny Machado
  4. Jose Ramirez
  5. Anthony Rendon

LEFT FIELD

Highest Cardinals WAR – Tommy Pham (10th in MLB)

5 players Cardinals fans would most certainly take over the current Cardinals employee:

  1. Cody Bellinger
  2. Justin Upton
  3. Marcell Ozuna
  4. Michael Conforto
  5. Marwin Gonzalez

CENTERFIELD

Highest Cardinals WAR – Dexter Fowler (27th in MLB)

5 players Cardinals fans would most certainly take over the current Cardinals employee:

  1. Mike Trout
  2. George Springer
  3. Adam Jones
  4. Kevin Kiermaier
  5. Aaron Hicks

RIGHT FIELD

Highest Cardinals WAR – Stephen Piscotty (25th in MLB)

5 players Cardinals fans would most certainly take over the current Cardinals employee:

  1. Aaron Judge
  2. Bryce Harper
  3. Gio Stanton
  4. Mookie Betts
  5. Avisail Garcia

CATCHER 

Highest Cardinals WAR – Yadier Molina (20th in MLB)

5 players Cardinals fans would most certainly take over the current Cardinals employee:

  1. Buster Posey
  2. Alex Avila
  3. Gary Sanchez
  4. Yasmani Grandal
  5. J.T. Realmuto

STARTING PITCHER

Highest Cardinals WAR – Carlos Martinez* (12th in MLB)

5 players Cardinals fans should probably take over the current Cardinals employee:

  1. Clayton Kershaw
  2. Max Scherzer
  3. Dallas Keuchel
  4. Chris Sale
  5. Robbie Ray

* Carlos Martinez has a couple of not so great starts (4/9 + 6/5) dragging down his WAR and you’re probably saying in your head ‘Robbie Ray over Carlos Martinez? Nah.’ – I don’t totally disagree. Then again, he’s not in the top 5 (or even 10) in WAR for ’17.

There are 30 teams in MLB. Here’s where the Cardinals currently rank in the 9 starting positions:

  • 1 player in top 1/3 MLB WAR
  • 3 players in middle 1/3 MLB WAR
  • 5 players in bottom 1/3 of MLB WAR

If you agree with the premise that having over 50% of your best starting lineup being in the bottom 33.3% of MLB WAR is not a good formula for success, please raise your hand.

And yet. And yet.

The little day dream scenario up top? It’s not true apples to apples. Again – Pujols is one of the worst players in baseball, so the bar of entry for MLB players is still pretty damn high.

But maybe instead of deriding the ’17 Cardinals for not being on top of a weak NL Central, we should be lauding them for not being further under .500?

Possibly.

Based on the performance of the collective Cardinals talent, expecting much more is kind of silly.

Photo: Metro