Saturday, June 3, 2023

The Second Nolan


There is currently a hard-hitting third baseman named Nolan doing really well in St. Louis, and it's surprisingly not Nolan Arenado.

I don't think any Cardinals fan is too shocked at how well Nolan Gorman has been doing this year. Compared to his more scattershot, learning-curve rookie year in 2022, Gorman has felt more confident, and has been taking more advantage of softies from opposing pitchers. Right now he has 13 home runs, 42 RBIs and is hitting .275, and even if he's been starting as a DH as opposed to in the infield, he's been a crucial part of this Cardinals team. With Goldschmidt and Arenado as tentpoles, these recent Cardinals teams have rewarded pure hitting and guys who mash, and not just for home runs. Someone like Gorman, and honestly someone like Alec Burleson, fits right into this group. 

Yet at the same time they're still trying to maintain the prior emphasis on contact hitting that started when Tommy Edman became big. The hope was that Jordan Walker would contribute to this as well, and then he stopped hitting. He seems to be back now, and he's beginning to hit again, but perhaps he's still a bit too young to grasp the majors, which is also an issue that might be plaguing Matthew Liberatore. Even past contact hitters like Paul deJong and Brendan Donovan are struggling to hit past marks. They still have enough power hitters, but even some of those, like Juan Yepez, aren't giving much else. And while I'm happy that Willson Contreras has improved since being taken from the catching position, he's still not where he was in Chicago. 

I'm not saying this team is incapable of improvement. Miles Mikolas had a rough start, now he's back to where he was last year. Andrew Knizner is finally having a relatively decent year as a backup. But while this team is admittedly beginning to creep up and toy with competing, they still feel incomplete, even with Flaherty, Mikolas, Hicks and deJong all active. Losing all of Lars Nootbaar, Tyler O'Neill and Dylan Carlson hurts, because those are some of your best defenders. Jordan Walker is decent on defense but Burleson's not known for his defense and neither are the other nearby outfield options. 

The Cardinals have a decent schedule heading into June. Some decent teams, some beatable ones. It's just a matter of whether or not these injury and inefficiency issues continue to hold them back this month as well.

Coming Tomorrow- The man who helped no hit both my teams in the same year on the way to a World Series. It is the most respectful kind of hatred I have.

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