Archive for Cardinals

Less-Heralded Hitting Prospects I Like in 2024

Rob Schumacher/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

Hey there, and welcome to the last edition of my data-driven look at some mid-tier hitting prospects I like more than the industry consensus. It feels weird, almost funereal, to start this article by mentioning that the series is ending, but that’s just how it is. This will be the fourth installment of my variably named Prospect Week contribution. In it, I use data and a big pinch of intuition to point out some hitters who I think have a good chance of sticking in the majors, even if they’re not your average Top 100 type.

In the past, I’ve done acceptably well at this; I don’t think it’d be fair to say that I’m great at it, but I’ve come up with my fair share of interesting players using this process. In looking through my past lists, I feel good about the process that led me to some guys you’ve heard of (Miguel Vargas and Ezequiel Tovar are probably my biggest hits so far, but I’ve also gotten some role players, and both Gabriel Moreno and Alejandro Kirk performed incredibly well by my model, though I didn’t end up including them in a list thanks to their pedigree) and plenty you haven’t.

What’s so hard about this project? The obvious thing is that my methods are archaic. I’m using some sorting techniques that are still reasonably current. K-nearest neighbors and multiple binary logistic regressions are still my two favorite techniques, and I think they both still do what I want them to. These approaches aren’t state of the art in statistical analysis, but they’re not particularly far from it, especially when you take into account that I’m a baseball writer instead of a data scientist. Read the rest of this entry »

Effectively Wild Episode 2126: Season Preview Series: Cardinals and Guardians

Ben Lindbergh and Meg Rowley banter about Rob Manfred’s announcement that he’ll step down as commissioner after his current term. Then they preview the 2024 St. Louis Cardinals (26:01) with The Athletic’s Katie Woo and the 2024 Cleveland Guardians (1:09:24) with’s Mandy Bell, plus a postscript (1:44:43).

Audio intro: Alex Ferrin, “Effectively Wild Theme
Audio interstitial 1: Andy Ellison, “Effectively Wild Theme
Audio interstitial 2: Justin Peters, “Effectively Wild Theme
Audio outro: Ian H., “Effectively Wild Theme

Link to Drellich on Manfred 1
Link to Drellich on Manfred 2
Link to Drellich on Manfred 3
Link to Cardinals offseason tracker
Link to Cardinals depth chart
Link to Mozeliak on Ks
Link to Katie’s Athletic archive
Link to Guardians offseason tracker
Link to Guardians depth chart
Link to eclipse opener news
Link to Mandy on the eclipse
Link to Ben on the 2017 eclipse
Link to Langs on Vogt
Link to payrolls page
Link to Mandy’s archive
Link to article on Cavnar
Link to Ben on ex-player GMs
Link to Toronto Fogo page
Link to Toronto Fogo article
Link to article on Escobar

 Sponsor Us on Patreon
 Facebook Group
 Twitter Account
 EW Subreddit
 Effectively Wild Wiki
 iTunes Feed (Please rate and review us!)
 Get Our Merch!
 Email Us:

Sunday Notes: Cooperstown Could Use More Closers

Billy Wagner has a chance to be voted into the Hall of Fame this year. As I type these words on Saturday evening, the erstwhile left-handed reliever — this in his penultimate appearance on the BBWAA ballot — is polling at 80.0% with nearly half of the electorate having disclosed their choices. If he finishes at or above the 75% threshold required for induction he will become the ninth closer enshrined in Cooperstown.

Many will argue that closers — at least not those named Mariano Rivera — don’t belong in the Hall of Fame. The reasoning, by and large, is lack of innings thrown (Wagner has just 903), which factors into comparably low WAR totals (Rivera has 38.6, whereas workmanlike starters such as Kenny Rogers and John Lackey are north of 40). Add in a rule that allows for what might be deemed “cheap saves” and the argument against closers is understandable.

Personally, I don’t think there are enough closers in the Hall of Fame. It’s not as though the role isn’t important, and it certainly isn’t recent. The first 15-save season came exactly 100 years ago, with Firpo Marberry doing the honors with the Washington Senators (the right-hander added two more saves in that year’s World Series). Marberry subsequently logged the first 20-save season in 1926, and by career’s end he’d led the American League in saves and appearances six times each. Marberry isn’t in the Hall of Fame, but when you factor in his historical significance — ditto his higher JAWS score than all of Rollie Fingers, Lee Smith, and Bruce Sutter — he arguably should be.

If a “closer” with Marberry’s statistical résumé — he finished with 99 saves and 148 wins (56 of them as a reliever) — could be deemed Hall-worthy, what about a Wagner contemporary like John Franco? While not as overpowering as Wagner, Franco did amass 424 saves — two more than the on-the-doorstep Hall of Famer’s total, and the most ever for a southpaw. Moreover, it ranks fifth-most all-time, while his 1,119 appearances ranks third-most. With the caveat that JAWS isn’t bullish on his credentials, Franco presents an intriguing case. Read the rest of this entry »

Sunday Notes: Seattle Pitching Prospect Troy Taylor Impressed Scouts in Arizona

Troy Taylor is an under-the-radar pitcher to keep your eye on in the Seattle Mariners system. A 22-year-old right-hander who was taken in the 12th round of the 2022 draft out of the University of California Irvine, Taylor impressed evaluators in the Arizona Fall League with a two-pitch mix that has him well-positioned for a future role as a big-league reliever.

“I’m a big fan of what he can do athletically, as a mover,” said a scout I spoke to. “His stuff is good. He’s a guy who probably ends up in the bullpen with the Mariners, and sooner rather than later.”

He’s already come a long way. Taylor was an infielder at Rancho Cucamonga’s Los Osos High School, and when he did occasionally take the mound — “I closed a couple of times” — all he really did was throw as hard he could. It wasn’t until he got to Cyprus Junior College, and then to UC-Irvine, that he “actually started learning how to pitch.”

Taylor has understandably learned a lot more about the nuances of his craft since signing with Seattle, but he nonetheless remains anything but a technician. Topping out at 98 mph and typically averaging “five and some change,” he still tries to throw his heater as hard as he can. He identifies as a power pitcher.

Adding a third pitch is a goal — the Mariners have him working on a changeup to use against left-handed hitters — but his fastball-slider combination will always be his bread and butter. The former is not only his best pitch, it has unique characteristics. Read the rest of this entry »

Cardinals Prospect Victor Scott II Doubles as Argo the Rapper

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Victor Scott II has received a lot of attention lately, and for good reason. The 22-year-old outfielder swiped 94 bases this past season between High- and Double-A, then added 18 more representing the St. Louis Cardinals in the Arizona Fall League. Moreover, his left-handed stroke produced a .303/.369/.425 slash line over 618 plate appearances against Midwest League and Texas League pitching. Flying below the radar when he was taken in the fifth round of the 2022 draft out of West Virginia University, the speedster is now widely viewed as one of the most promising players in the Cardinals’ pipeline.

The focus the Atlanta native has received lately has understandably centered on his plus-plus wheels and his improved hit tool. Neither of those subjects was broached when I spoke to Scott over the phone in early December — this a few weeks before he graduated from WVU with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. Instead, we discussed his burgeoning music career. Scott is not only on the fast track to the big leagues, he is also an accomplished rapper.


David Laurila: You’ve recorded a number of rap songs. Tell me about that.

Victor Scott II: “It’s something I can’t really do in-season, and I couldn’t really do at school, because I didn’t have a studio. Here at home, I can get in there with Quinn Carter — one of my best friends from back in the day — to kind of hang out and make music. It’s therapeutic. It allows me to get whatever off my mind, and also to be imaginative. It’s a cool little outlet, man. It’s great.” Read the rest of this entry »

Mariners and Rays Each Make a Pair of Trades, Gain Roster Clarity

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

The Mariners and Rays had a busy Friday last week, combining to make three trades involving seven players. Seattle got things started with a three-player swap with the San Francisco Giants, shipping Robbie Ray to the Bay Area in exchange for Mitch Haniger, Anthony DeSclafani, and cash considerations. Then the M’s and the Rays exchanged José Caballero and Luke Raley, before Tampa Bay finished off the day by sending Andrew Kittredge to St. Louis for Richie Palacios. Both the Mariners and Rays dealt from areas of strength to address areas of need, giving both teams greater roster clarity as the offseason moves towards spring training.

Just two years ago, the three players involved in the first trade of the day would have garnered much bigger headlines. In 2021, Ray, Haniger, and DeSclafani combined to accumulate 9.4 WAR, with Ray winning the American League Cy Young award. In the two seasons since then, however, the trio has combined for just 3.3 WAR, largely thanks to a litany of injuries. Ray was completely healthy in 2022, but he wasn’t able to replicate his award-winning performance in his first season in Seattle and then made just a single start in 2023 before needing Tommy John surgery. Haniger has never been a model of health — he’s played just two full seasons in his seven-year career — and missed time with ankle, back, oblique, and forearm injuries the past two seasons. DeSclafani managed just five starts in 2022 thanks to a recurring ankle injury, then wore down towards the end of last year with shoulder fatigue and forearm inflammation. Read the rest of this entry »

JAWS and the 2024 Hall of Fame Ballot: Matt Holliday

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The following article is part of Jay Jaffe’s ongoing look at the candidates on the BBWAA 2024 Hall of Fame ballot. For a detailed introduction to this year’s ballot, and other candidates in the series, use the tool above; an introduction to JAWS can be found here. For a tentative schedule, see here. All WAR figures refer to the Baseball-Reference version unless otherwise indicated.

2024 BBWAA Candidate: Matt Holliday
Matt Holliday LF 44.5 34.3 39.4 2,096 316 .299/.379/.510 132
SOURCE: Baseball-Reference

At his listed size of 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, Matt Holliday was built like a football player. He could easily have gone in that direction, having excelled as a quarterback in high school and received scholarship offers from big-time college programs. Holliday came from a baseball-rich family, however, and his heart was on the diamond, so he chose to follow in the footsteps of his father and older brother, both of whom played professionally. He surpassed both not just by reaching the majors but by becoming a star, making seven All-Star teams in a 15-year career spent with the Rockies, A’s, Cardinals, and Yankees. He won a Coors Field-aided batting title as well as NLCS MVP honors while leading the Rockies to their only World Series berth in 2007. Winning seemed to follow Holliday, or perhaps it was the other way around; nine times in those 15 seasons his teams made the playoffs, with three trips to the World Series including a championship in 2011.

Matthew Thomas Holliday was born on January 15, 1980 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. His father, Tom Holliday, spent a year in the Pirates’ organization before pursuing coaching at the collegiate level. From 1978–96, he served as Oklahoma State University’s pitching coach and recruiting coordinator, then took over as head coach from ’97–2003. His oldest son, Josh Holliday (b. 1976), starred at Stillwater High School ahead of Matt; the two played on the same team in 1995. Josh was drafted by the Twins in the 14th round in 1995 but instead chose to go to Oklahoma State, where he played for his father and helped the team to the College World Series in ’96 and ’99. Drafted again by the Blue Jays in the ninth round in 1999, he spent two seasons playing professionally before going the college coaching route; he took over as Oklahoma State’s head coach in 2013, and still holds the job. Read the rest of this entry »

2024 ZiPS Projections: St. Louis Cardinals

For the 20th consecutive season, the ZiPS projection system is unleashing a full set of prognostications. For more information on the ZiPS projections, please consult this year’s introduction and MLB’s glossary entry. The team order is selected by lot, and the next team up is the St. Louis Cardinals.


For a very long time, the Cardinals were one of the safest bets in baseball. They’ve rarely been a juggernaut in recent decades, but they almost never had disastrous seasons and could almost always be counted on to end up with somewhere between 87 and 92 wins no matter what kind of shenanigans took place during the season.

Then 2023 happened. After posting just one season below .500 in the 21st century, the Cardinals finished with 91 losses, their worst showing since 1990, which was also the last time they finished in last place in the division. Back then, the team quickly recovered and immediately got back to a winning record, though it didn’t make the playoffs again until 1996. Read the rest of this entry »

Sunday Notes: A Hall of Fame Ballot (With a Notable Omission) Explained

This year I had the honor of filling out a Hall of Fame ballot for the fourth time, and as was the case with the previous three, I’m taking the time to explain my reasoning. This is something that I feel every voter should do. Filling out a ballot is a privilege that demands not only due diligence, but also transparency. That said, let’s cut to the chase.

My checkmarks went next to the names of 10 players — the maximum number allowed — seven of whom are holdovers from last year, and three of whom are new to the ballot. In alphabetical order, my votes went to Bobby Abreu, Carlos Beltrán, Adrián Beltré, Todd Helton, Joe Mauer, Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield, Chase Utley, and Billy Wagner.

Yes, Andruw Jones’s name is missing from that list. No, I am not particularly pleased by his non-inclusion. The erstwhile Atlanta Braves star had received my vote three times prior, and in a perfect world he would have again this year. But it’s not a perfect world. Again, only 10 checkmarks are allowed, and with three worthy newcomers joining eight holdovers from last year’s ballot, someone had to draw the short stick. Ultimately, I decided it would be Jones.

Who might I have dropped instead? That’s a question that would require more words to answer adequately than I have room for in this column, but I will say that a certain amount of strategic thinking went into the decision. As my esteemed colleague Jay Jaffe can attest, any thoughts of my omitting Gary Sheffield (currently polling at 71.9%) were dispelled with a reminder that this is his last year on the ballot. While the likelihood of Sheffield’s reaching the required 75% threshold isn’t high, it’s also not impossible. Conversely, Jones (currently at 62.5%, a few percentage points better than last year), has three more years of eligibility left beyond this cycle. I am likely to resume voting for him 12 months from now. Read the rest of this entry »

Red Sox Trade Two Pitchers to St. Louis, Acquire Brawny Canadian

Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, Marco Gonzales got traded twice in three days: First from Seattle to Atlanta in the Jarred Kelenic deal, then up the Denny Neagle Highway to Pittsburgh. No one has ever been more traded. You want to know how traded Gonzales is? The only other player he’s ever been traded for, Tyler O’Neill, just got traded too.

The St. Louis Cardinals, sitting on a surfeit of corner outfield types, have sent O’Neill to Boston for pitchers Nick Robertson and Victor Santos. This is not as exciting a trade as it would’ve been two years ago, when O’Neill was coming off a 5.5 WAR season, but it allows the Cardinals to turn a player they probably weren’t going to use into pitching depth. The Red Sox gain some temporary goodwill from the small subset of locals who’ll scan a headline and think that former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill has returned from the dead. Moreover, they’ve added some right-handed power to a pool of outfielders that could use some. Read the rest of this entry »