The Cardinals, as you’ll have heard, made a major addition this week.
They satisfied the Rockies to provide them $50 million — and, oh yeah, third baseman Nolan Arenado — in alternate for lefty pitcher Austin Gomber and 4 minor leaguers. The best-ranked prospect within the group, Elehuris Montero, checked in at No. 14 on Baseball America’s rating of Cardinals prospects.
However that’s not the purpose proper now, absolutely the fleecing of the Rockies by the Cardinals, a deal that was finalized Monday morning. Arenado’s addition anoints the Cardinals because the clear favorites within the NL Central; he’s the very best defensive third baseman within the NL (perhaps the bigs), and his highly effective bat is strictly what St. Louis wanted this offseason.
However we’re not even speaking about that in the present day. Right here’s what we’re taking a look at: Do the Cardinals now have the very best corner-infield mixture in baseball? St. Louis already had a reasonably constant All-Star at first base in Paul Goldschmidt.
Let’s check out the highest 9 corner-infield combos.
1B Yuli Gurriel
3B Alex Bregman
Why they’re right here: Bregman completed fifth within the AL MVP voting in 2018, then rattling close to beat out Mike Trout to win the award in 2019. His 2020, although? Let’s simply say the ultimate numbers weren’t fairly as much as his requirements, as his price stats fell throughout the board. However all which means is that he’s primed for an enormous bounce-back season in 2021, his Age 27 marketing campaign. Gurriel’s numbers plummeted, too — he had a 76 OPS+, .274 on-base share and minus-0.1 bWAR — however he’s heading into his Age 37 season.
1B Anthony Rizzo
3B Kris Bryant
Why they’re right here: It solely seems like this duo has been roaming Wrigley Area for the reason that finish of the Ernie Banks period. Rizzo’s getting into his Age 31 season and Bryant his Age 29 season. Rizzo’s numbers took a tumble within the shortened 2020 season, and Bryant’s fell off a cliff. It’s laborious to think about their time as affect gamers is finished, although (Over at FanGraphs, ZIPS has Bryant with a still-productive 3.2 WAR in 2021, Rizzo at 3.3). It’s additionally laborious to think about that Bryant will end the yr in Chicago; a free agent after 2021, he’ll possible be traded if he reveals early flashes of his former MVP self.
1B Matt Olson
3B Matt Chapman
Why they’re right here: The place to rank this duo? Although 2020 was a productive season for the A’s — they gained the AL West going away, then gained a playoff collection, too — the Matts struggled on the plate. Olson popped 14 homers, however batted simply .195 with a 105 OPS+. Chapman, coming off back-to-back 8.3 bWAR seasons, had a .276 on-base share and had 54 strikeouts, with solely eight walks, earlier than a hip harm ended his season after solely 37 video games.
Primarily based on these small pattern sizes, the duo wouldn’t discover a spot on this prime 10. However you gained’t discover anybody within the sport who expects the identical kind of manufacturing from these two in 2021. So we’ll put them right here, above their 2020 efficiency however beneath their 2019 manufacturing.
1B Luke Voit
3B Gio Urshela
Why they’re right here: Neither Voit nor Urshela arrived in New York as heralded additions, however they’ve made a huge effect on the franchise of their time with the membership. Urshela adopted his out-of-nowhere breakthrough 2019 season — 21 homers, .314 common, 132 OPS+ — with a shortened 2020 season that included a 136 OPS+. And Voit? All he did in 2020 was lead the AL with 22 homers, to go together with a .610 slugging share and 156 OPS+.
1B Eric Hosmer
3B Manny Machado
Why they’re right here: Machado will likely be an MVP candidate once more in 2021, and Hosmer was higher on the plate in 2020 than in both of his first two seasons with the Padres. In reality, he posted the second-best OPS+ (131) of his profession final season.
1B Freddie Freeman
3B Austin Riley
Why they’re right here: They’re right here as a result of, despite the fact that Austin Riley is much from a certain factor at third base — his sizzling/chilly stretches throughout his two years within the bigs have been excessive — you possibly can just about pair your common Double-A 3rd baseman with Freddie Freeman and the Braves would have a Prime-15 nook infield duo. The one dangerous factor for Braves followers about Freeman profitable the 2020 NL MVP award is that they now not can name him essentially the most underrated star in baseball, which was their favourite factor to say.
3. Blue Jays
1B Vlad Guerrero, Jr.
3B Cavan Biggio
Why they’re right here: If nothing else, that is actually the one nook infield combo composed completely of sons of baseball Corridor of Famers. Additionally they have as a lot upside as any duo right here; Vlad Jr. hit 9 dwelling runs with a 115 OPS+ in his Age 21 season final yr, and Biggio posted a stable .375 on-base share, to go together with eight homers and a 2.0 bWAR. ZIPs has Biggio with a 3.2 WAR in 2021, Guerrero with a 2.8. It’s a very good yr to guess on the Blue Jays.
2. White Sox
1B Jose Abreu
3B Yoan Moncada
Why they’re right here: The case for this pair at No. 1 can be a lot stronger if there was any diploma of certainty about what we are able to anticipate from Moncada. His OPS+ the previous three years: 96, 140, 94. He regarded very very similar to the long run star we’ve been ready for him to turn into in 2019, however regressed again to 2018 ranges within the shortened 2020 season. I anticipate he’ll be extra like 2019 in 2021, which is why the White Sox are forward of two different groups with MVP candidates at one of many spots: Freeman and the Braves and Machado and the Padres. I consider Moncada could have a greater yr than Riley or Hosmer. And Abreu? He’s by no means been higher. He’s led the AL in RBIs every of the previous two seasons and gained final yr’s MVP award.
1B Paul Goldschmidt
3B Nolan Arenado
Why they’re right here: Goldschmidt was virtually all the best way again to his previous .300/.400/.500 self within the shortened 2020 season; his 2.0 bWAR in 58 video games of 2020 practically equaled his 2.4 bWAR in 161 video games in 2019. Anticipate extra of that in 2021, particularly with extra assist in the Cardinals lineup. Arenado struggled with a shoulder harm in 2020 that restricted his manufacturing, however this can be a man who completed within the prime eight of the NL MVP race — with a “low” bWAR of 5.9 — for 5 consecutive years, from 2015 to 2019. He’s wholesome and motivated together with his new franchise.