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State of the Cardinals Outfield

A rough look at the Cardinals outfield situation compared to the rest of baseball

St Louis Cardinals v Kansas City Royals Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

As it is the day after Christmas, this will be a rather brief and rudimentary look at how the Cardinals outfield shapes up compared to the rest of baseball. We’ll use Steamer projections, set a few baselines and see where the Cardinals.

First, let’s take a look at the best outfielders in baseball according the projections. Here are the top-20 outfielders needing a projection of at least three wins going by Steamer/600 which gives every player the same playing time and should help show the talent level.

Name Team WAR
Mike Trout Angels 7.9
Bryce Harper Nationals 5.9
Giancarlo Stanton Yankees 5.7
Mookie Betts Red Sox 5.2
George Springer Astros 4.5
Aaron Judge Yankees 3.8
Kevin Kiermaier Rays 3.8
Michael Conforto Mets 3.7
Christian Yelich Marlins 3.7
Marcell Ozuna Cardinals 3.6
Yasiel Puig Dodgers 3.5
Rhys Hoskins Phillies 3.3
Lorenzo Cain FA 3.3
Jackie Bradley Jr. Red Sox 3.2
A.J. Pollock Diamondbacks 3.2
Andrew McCutchen Pirates 3.1
Byron Buxton Twins 3
Yoenis Cespedes Mets 3
Joc Pederson Dodgers 3
Tommy Pham Cardinals 3

The Cardinals have two such players in Tommy Pham and Marcell Ozuna. No team has more than two of the top-20 outfielders.

Team 3+ WAR OF
Yankees 2
Red Sox 2
Mets 2
Dodgers 2
Cardinals 2
Twins 1
Rays 1
Pirates 1
Phillies 1
Nationals 1
Marlins 1
Diamondbacks 1
Astros 1
Angels 1
16 Others 0

Half the teams in baseball don’t have a single outfielder projected for at least three wins by Steamer. So what happens when we drop things down a bit. We tend to think the Cardinals grow average players on trees. Across the majors, having an outfield with three average players is hardly a guarantee.

There are only actually 45 average outfielders in baseball which comes to an average of one and a half per team. That means, generally, that half of all starting outfielders are below average. Dexter Fowler gets added to the Cardinals mix below to have at least average players at all three positions, something only four other teams can claim.

Team 2+ WAR OF
Dodgers 4
Yankees 3
Red Sox 3
Cardinals 3
Angels 3
Rays 2
Rangers 2
Pirates 2
Phillies 2
Mets 2
Cubs 2
Astros 2
Twins 1
Rockies 1
Orioles 1
Nationals 1
Marlins 1
Mariners 1
Indians 1
Diamondbacks 1
Braves 1
Blue Jays 1
Athletics 1
7 Others 0

More than half of baseball teams don’t have two outfielders that project for at least two wins. The Dodgers have four of these players, but one of them, Cody Bellinger, seems very likely to be playing first base next year. It’s worth noting that if we had used ZiPS projections—which aren’t yet available for all teams—the Cardinals would have a fourth player up there in Randal Grichuk.

Now, we’ll look at how teams’ top-3 OF compare among MLB-caliber outfielders. There are around 120 outfielders with 1+ WAR projections. Here’s what happens when we add up top-3 outfielders per team among outfielders with a projection of at least one win.

Team Top-3 OF
Angels 12.4
Yankees 12.1
Red Sox 11.1
Nationals 9.2
Dodgers 9.1
Cardinals 8.7
Astros 8.6
Mets 8.4
Pirates 7.6
Rays 7
Cubs 6.6
Phillies 6.6
Twins 6.6
Athletics 5.5
Diamondbacks 5.5
Rangers 5.5
Mariners 5.4
White Sox 5.3
Blue Jays 5.1
Orioles 5.1
Brewers 5
Indians 5
Padres 3.8
Marlins 3.7
Rockies 3.4
Braves 3.1
Tigers 2.6
Reds 2.4
Royals 1.6
Giants 1.4

To further test depth a bit, here’s how many players teams have with a projection of at least 1 WAR.

Team 1+ WAR OF
Dodgers 6
Blue Jays 6
Yankees 5
Twins 5
Orioles 5
Cubs 5
Cardinals 5
Athletics 5
Astros 5
Red Sox 4
Rays 4
Rangers 4
Pirates 4
Nationals 4
Mets 4
Indians 4
White Sox 3
Phillies 3
Padres 3
Mariners 3
Diamondbacks 3
Brewers 3
Angels 3
Tigers 2
Rockies 2
Reds 2
Braves 2
Royals 1
Marlins 1
Giants 1

If you want to add a win or so to the teams that don’t even have three outfielders with at least a one-win projection, feel free to do so, but it doesn’t really matter for thee purposes.

Even after trading Stephen Piscotty, the Cardinals have five players according to Steamer worth at least one win with the addition of Randal Grichuk and Jose Martinez. ZiPS would add a few more. players as Tyler O’Neill and Harrison Bader both have 1+ WAR ZiPS projections with O’Neill projected as very close to an average player.

The Cardinals have two of the top-20 outfielders in baseball with a third in the top-40. After those three, they still have multiple players who could start on a decent amount of MLB teams. The Cardinals have already moved two outfielders off the 40-man roster this winter in Piscotty and Magneuris Sierra, gaining Marcell Ozuna and some infield prospect depth. If the right move were available, they could still afford to do it again.

Happy Boxing Day!