90-72 (2nd in Division; 9th in MLB)
SP Wins: 54 (9th)
RP Wins: 36 (13th)
Saves: 50 (4th)
100+ Ks: 1 (Adam Wainwright 174)
65+ RBI: 5 (Arenado 105, Goldschmidt 99, O’Neill 80, Yadier Molina 66, Carlson 65)
10+ HRs: 8 (Arenado, O’Neill 34, Goldschmidt 31, Paul DeJong 19, Carlson 18, Bader 16, Molina, Edman 11)
5+ SBs: 4 (Edman 30, O’Neill 15, Goldschmidt 12, Bader 9)
BEST BUY: Tommy Edman
Edman’s primary value comes from his speed as he was 30-for-35 on the bases last year. He also chipped in 91 R, 11 HR, 56 RBI, and a .262 AVG, but he is drafted for the SBs and positional flexibility (he’ll be 2B/OF to start 2022). Only 15 guys are projected for 20+ SBs next year according to Steamer and from that group, only Myles Straw (142) and Akil Baddoo (168) are available cheaper than Edman (84). With his contact and speed, Edman is a nice BABIP away from chasing down a .300 AVG, too.
ON THE RISE: Giovanny Gallegos
Teams have been moving away from using their best reliever at closer which makes a lot of sense strategically, but often drives us insane in the fantasy realm. The Cards were trying to pull this off, but Alex Reyes’ egregious walk rate (16% career BB rate) finally became too much as it was joined by a late-season HR issue (2.6 HR/9 from Aug. 1st on). Gallegos took over in late-August and reeled off 12 saves in 13 tries with a 2.87 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, and 29% K-BB rate in 15.7 IP.
Unless they bring someone in, Gallegos should be the guy from day 1. The 30-year-old righty has been excellent since joining the Cardinals with a 2.74 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, and 26% K-BB rate in 170.7 IP. He is my 4th-ranked closer for 2022 and that’s not just a product of fewer bankable guys at the top, either. He has a shot at 30 SVs and 100 Ks.
OFF THE RADAR: Juan Yepez
OK, he might not be off the radar now that he and JJ Bleday were named co-Hitters of the Year at the Arizona Fall League. I made two trips out there this year and heard a bit about Yepez the first time around but he was the talk of the town by the time I went back in November. He dominated in Double-A (153 wRC+ in 77 PA) and Triple-A (154 wRC+ in 357 PA) with a combined line of .286/.383/.586 and 27 HR before capping his season with the AFL honors thanks to a .302/.388/.640 line that included 7 HR and 26 RBI in 103 PA. He is kind of a four-corner guy, but all of them are firmly blocked (1B Goldschmidt, 3B Arenado, LF Carlson, RF O’Neill) so he will eagerly be awaiting news of the DH returning to the National League. If he doesn’t break camp with the Cards, he will likely be up early.
HOT TAKE: Harrison Bader has a 25 HR/25 SB season.
Bader is starting to tap into his power with a .199 ISO since 2020 (526 PA) and already has the premium speed to be a major SB threat in a breakout season. He showed flashes of this upside in a wildly volatile summer. He had an excellent July (174 wRC+), horrendous August (21) and then a fantastic September (163) to close out the season. He is a very affordable breakout candidate at pick-249 in the first 20 drafts at the NFBC.
ICYMI: Tyler O’Neill had a great season, but he was particularly out of his mind over his final 250 PA with a .306/.384/.612 line including 18 HR, 42 RBI, 49 R, and 7 SB. That would be a full season line of 47 HR, 110 RBI, 128 R, and 18 SB. I do get some 2017 Domingo Santana/Steven Souza Jr. vibes from O’Neill, but he is absurdly talented so if he can reign in the strikeout rate, he could curb his expected regression.
IF THE DH RETURNS: Juan Yepez would be an excellent candidate to get a lot of run there while also using it to give some of their older stars a day off on occasion.