Mike Shildt's first full season as manager of the St. Louis Cardinals couldn't have gone much better. The Red Birds went 91-71 and won the NL Central, earning their first postseason berth since 2015. St. Louis showed incredible resilience in the NLDS against Atlanta, overcoming a 2-1 series deficit to win the final two games and advance to the NLCS. Unfortunately, they ran into a buzzsaw and got swept by the Nationals in four games.
The Cardinals have long been considered one of baseball's most iconic and successful franchises. St. Louis has won 11 World Series titles, most in the NL and 2nd most all-time to the Yankees (27). However, for a team with perennial championship aspirations, St. Louis is in a bit of a drought lately. The Cards haven't won a title since 2011.
It has been a quiet offseason for St. Louis, which either means the front office is confident and content with its current roster, or they were unwilling to spend money in free agency or pull the trigger on a big trade to improve the club. The Cardinals lost one of their best offensive players in free agency when outfielder Marcell Ozuna (.241, 29 homers, 89 RBIs) signed with the rival Braves. They also traded away slugger Jose Martinez to the Rays for a pair of prospects. Neither players were replaced with outside help. Essentially, the Cardinals are relying on the same group from last year, minus a pair of key contributors.
Here is the Cardinals projected starting lineup in 2020. St. Louis will be counting on a bounce back year from veteran Matt Carpenter and further growth from young outfielders Tommy Edman and Harrison Bader.
1. Kolten Wong 2B
2. Matt Carpenter 3B
3. Paul Goldschmidt 1B
4. Paul DeJong SS
5. Yadier Molina C
6. Dexter Fowler OF
7. Tyler O'Neill DH
8. Tommy Edman OF
9. Harrison Bader OF
The strength of the Cardinals remains their deep and talented pitching staff, led by 24-year-old ace Jack Flaherty (11-8, 2.75 ERA) and 26-year-old sidekick Dakota Hudson (16-7, 3.35 ERA).
1. Jack Flaherty
2. Dakota Hudson
3. Miles Mikolas
4. Adam Wainwright
5. Carlos Martinez
In the bullpen, St. Louis features a pair of closers in Andrew Miller and Giovanny Gallegos along with setup man Daniel Poncedeleon. Unfortunately, the Cardinals will be without ace reliever John Brebbia who is out for the year with Tommy John surgery. Flamethrower Jordan Hicks will miss the beginning of the year after with an elbow injury but is expected to run at some point during the season.
So what do oddsmakers expect from St. Louis in 2020?
At BetMGM, the Cardinals win total is 32.5 with -110 juice on both sides. This translates to 87.8 wins based on a 162-game schedule. This would represent a slight step backward from their 91-win campaign in 2019.
FanGraphs, one of the most trusted sites for advanced baseball analytics, is projecting St. Louis to go 31-29. This would indicate some actionable value on the Cardinals' under 32.5 win total.
St. Louis is a -145 favorite to miss the playoffs and a + 120 dog to make the playoffs. This translates to a 59.2% implied probability that the Cards will miss the postseason.
However, St. Louis is tied with the Cubs as + 240 favorites to win the highly competitive NL Central. The Reds are close behind at + 275 followed by the Brewers + 300. The Pirates are a distant afterthought at + 5000.
The Cards are + 1200 to win the National League, tied with the Phillies, Reds, Mets and Cubs for the 4th-best odds. The Dodgers are + 145 favorites, followed by the Braves + 700 and Nats + 1000.
St. Louis is + 2500 to win the World Series.
In terms of player props and futures, Goldschmidt is + 4000 to win NL MVP. His over/under for homers is 12.5 (over -120) and RBI's 32.5 (-115 both sides). Last season Goldschmidt hit 34 homers and knocked in 97 runs.
Flaherty has the 3rd-best odds to win NL Cy Young at + 800, trailing only Jacob deGrom + 280 and Max Scherzer + 450. Flaherty is + 900 to lead the NL in strikeouts and + 1000 to lead the NL in wins.
Top outfield prospect Dylan Carlson has the 5th-best Rookie of the Year odds at + 1000. Carlson combined to hit .292 with 26 homers and 68 RBIs at the AA and AAA level in 2019.