As Spring Training gets underway, the Cardinals look like a different team than in years past. There is an energy level that is electric and contagious. Younger players are playing for a spot while the veterans are trying to keep them. The Cardinals seem ready to hold on to guys like Gyorko and Martinez for depth roles which just add to the depth of the Cardinals roster. The Cards offense could be incredibly potent in 2019. It starts at the top with Carpenter. He led the team last season with a career high 36 home runs. If you were to ask me before last season who would be most likely to hit 30 bombs, Carpenter wouldn’t have been my first choice. Now looking at the 2019 seasons, the Cardinals could be set up with as many as five players with 30 or more homers.
Starting in the leadoff spot, I think Matt Carpenter is primed for another 30 home run season. Before last year Carpenter had 3 straight seasons of 20 or more home runs. An adjustment to his launch angle is what finally put him over the 30 home run mark. His average home run distance wasn’t spectacular at just 392 feet (league average – 398), but his ability to make solid contact gave him a solid 2018 season. I don’t see him getting all the way back to 36 home runs, but Carpenter should have no problem hitting 30-32 homers in 2019.
Goldschmidt might seem to be the most obvious choice in the bunch. He’s hit 30 home runs in 4 of his last 6 seasons averaging 30.1 HR in that time. A change of scenery in St. Louis might benefit him with having the massive fanbase backing him at Busch Stadium. I expect another 30-32 homers from Goldy in 2019.
The month of September gave fans what they wanted to see from Marcell Ozuna. He only managed 23 home runs on the season, but he managed 7 of them just in the final month. It helped that Ozuna received a corisone injection on his sore shoulder. If his shoulder can be fully healed going into 2019, expect a year similar to Ozuna’s 2017 season where he hit 37 homers for Miami.
If you took a look at my most recent bold prediction piece, I think DeJong is in for a monster year that gives him a spot in the top 5 of the NL MVP voting. With that comes more of DeJong’s power potential. DeJong hit 38 home runs between AAA and MLB in 2017 and was off to a great start in 2018 before a DL stint caused by a fractured hand. If Jeff Albert can make an impression on DeJong and his strike zone awareness, I can see him leading the team this year in homers. It wouldn’t surprise me to see DeJong match his 38 home run total from 2017 only this time he will do it at the Major League level.
Now here is where we might get into the more “bold” territory. A lot has to happen for O’Neill to get a shot in RF. Fowler has to essentially struggle like he did last year and Martinez would have to be pretty horrid defensively. But all that being said, O’Neill might have the most power potential of anyone on the Cardinals roster. He might not need a full seasons worth of reps at the Major League level to crack 30 home runs.
In reality a couple more guys could make the cut. We have to remember that only a couple short seasons ago Jedd Gyorko hit 30 home runs. Harrison Bader might be closer to 20-25 in a full season, but if you’ve seen his off-season workouts, you can see how strong he is getting. He might surprise people in 2019. For a while in the 2018 season it looked as if Yadi could break 30 homers, but he finished the year with 20. The Cardinals have a very nice situation on their hands when it comes to their offense. I’m looking forward to it.
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