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2 CARDINALS

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OVERALL RANK 6

ENEMY LINES

A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP ST. LOUIS

It felt weird with the Cardinals not playing in October. This will be one of those years when St. Louis finds a way to hang in there and keeps chugging along—they'll get in as a wild card.... Last year's team was so sloppy on defense. Dexter Fowler will change that. He's a perfect fit, and he gives them better baserunning.... Randal Grichuk was never meant to be a centerfielder. Now he goes to a corner, and he'll be an asset. He's a big strikeout guy, but he punishes mistakes.... Matt Adams dropped a ton of weight, and now everyone thinks he's going to hit 30 home runs. Calm down. He needs to learn to take more walks.... Aledmys Díaz was a revelation as a rookie. As the guy they hope will hit second, he's a key--and a big wild card. I'd temper my expectations, now that the league has seen him.... Kolten Wong is a mystery. A hyped prospect, the game sped up on him, and he wasn't able to catch up, and they tried him as an outfielder, which was a mistake. He belongs at second. They just need to show they have confidence in him.... Seung-hwan Oh is very deceptive in his delivery. You'd think hitters might catch on. But he's got legitimately nasty stuff. This guy is for real.... Losing Alex Reyes was a big hit, but I still like this rotation. Carlos Martínez is an ace.... Michael Wacha set the world on fire in the 2013 postseason and never recovered from that run. It's come back to haunt them. I think this is the year he gets fully healthy.... Adam Wainwright had his least productive year, but he was still coming back from an Achilles injury. He's not the ace he was before, but his intelligence and aptitude will still take him a long way.

MANAGER MIKE MATHENY

6TH SEASON WITH ST. LOUIS

B-T BA OBP SLG WAR

CF DEXTER FOWLER [NEW ACQUISITION] [DEFENSIVE STAR]

S-R .276 .393 .447 4.2

SS ALEDMYS DÍAZ [BARGAIN] [RISING]

R-R .300 .369 .510 3.5

1B MATT CARPENTER [BARGAIN]

L-R .271 .380 .505 3.4

RF STEPHEN PISCOTTY

R-R .273 .343 .457 2.9

C YADIER MOLINA [DEFENSIVE STAR] [DECLINING]

R-R .307 .360 .427 2.9

3B JHONNY PERALTA [DECLINING]

R-R .260 .307 .408 -0.4

2B KOLTEN WONG

L-R .240 .327 .355 1.5

LF RANDAL GRICHUK [RISING]

R-R .240 .289 .480 2.7

BENCH

B-T BA OBP SLG WAR

IF JEDD GYORKO

R-R .243 .306 .495 2.9

1B MATT ADAMS [BARGAIN]

L-R .249 .309 .471 0.7

OF TOMMY PHAM

R-R .226 .324 .440 -0.1

W ERA K/9 WAR

RH CARLOS MARTÍNEZ [TEAM MVP] [BARGAIN]

16--9 3.04 8.0 5.4

RH ADAM WAINWRIGHT [DEFENSIVE STAR] [DECLINING]

13--9 4.62 7.3 1.0

RH MIKE LEAKE

9--12 4.69 6.4 0.5

RH MICHAEL WACHA [INJURY RISK]

7--7 5.09 7.4. -0.4

RH LANCE LYNN [INJURY RISK]

12--11 3.03 8.8 3.5 [2015 STATS]

SV ERA K/9 WAR

RH SEUNG-HWAN OH [BARGAIN]

19 1.92 11.6 2.8

LH KEVIN SIEGRIST

3 2.77 9.6 1.7

NEW ACQUISITION

2016 STATS

*2015 STATS

(R) ROOKIE

TEAM MVP

DEFENSIVE STAR

INJURY RISK

BARGAIN

RISING

DECLINING

MODEST PROPOSAL

Injuries allowed Aledmys Díaz to emerge as an All-Star shortstop last year. With everyone healthy now, though, there's pressure for playing time. The Cards have chosen to move Matt Carpenter to first base, but a better idea would be to leave him at third so Matt Adams can take most of the time at first. Shuffling Carpenter to allow a declining Jhonny Peralta (.260/.307/.408 in 2016 at age 34, with bad defense) to keep a job is playing the contract rather than the player. Adams, who has battled various injuries the last two years, can still rake and is just 28.

BOTTOM LINE

This team can't catch the Cubs, but a wild-card spot should be in the Cards.