The St. Louis Cardinals had an impressive showing in spring training, compiling a solid 16-9 record. Spring games and records for that matter mean little to nothing so take it for what it is. Preparation.
The pitching staff was especially good, allowing the fewest runs in the Grapefruit League and the hitters did their part as well. Some names are familiar, others not so much.
If St. Louis can keep this momentum going, they could jump out to an early lead in the National League Central race. And while the results of the games may not count for anything. The work put in often does.
Let’s take a look at five players who could have a quick start to the 2012 regular season.
David Freese, 3B
The World Series MVP showed some impressive power this spring, blasting three home runs. He also racked up 10 RBI, good for second place on the Cardinals roster.
He only hit .189, so he needs to improve his pitch selection, but that should come with time.
It’s possible Freese could put up career highs in homers and RBI this season, as long as he stays healthy.
Matt Carpenter, INF
Carpenter made the big league roster because of his outstanding spring.
The backup infielder hit .357, scored 13 runs and had 10 RBI.
With David Freese at third and Lance Berkman at first, it’ll be hard to get consistent playing time for Carpenter, but when he does play, he should be very effective.
The Redbirds are set at the corner infield position with Carpenter backing up the stars.
Adam Wainwright, SP
Wainwright missed the entire 2011 season with an elbow injury. But now he’s back, and he doesn’t appear to be any different.
The Cardinals ace had an impressive spring, recording an impressive 1.45 ERA and 0.91 WHIP.
He makes the Cardinals’ starting rotation so much more dangerous.
When Chris Carpenter comes back from his neck injury, the National League won’t enjoy playing St. Louis.
Kyle Lohse, SP
Chris Carpenter’s neck injury looks like it will linger into the regular season, meaning Lohse is going to have to step up and solidify the St. Louis pitching staff.
He showed that he’s up to the task this spring, notching three wins and leading the team with 20 strikeouts.
If he can avoid injury and keep the ball in the park, the Cardinals should be able to survive a month or two without Carpenter.
Matt Holliday, LF
Holliday absolutely tore it up at the plate this spring.
The slugger hit .383 with three home runs and 11 RBI in Florida.
He’s going to have to lead this team offensively in 2012. If his spring numbers are any indication, the Cards are in good hands.
It’ll be up to Lance Berkman and Carlos Beltran to make sure Holliday gets plenty of good pitches to hit.