Some reasonable expectations for each Cardinal in 2014
Peter Bourjos does not shy from stating 40 stolen bases is a goal for 2014. Adam Wainwright says he wants to have fewer walks than starts, a goal he came close to reaching last season, when he walked 35 in 34 regular-season starts. Lance Lynn makes no secret that he is out to pitch 200 innings again.
Most of the Cardinals, though, prefer to keep their personal goals to themselves. Many are like Matt Holliday and speak only generally about individual objectives.
"I always want to have the best season of my career," Holliday says. "That’s how I train in the offseason, so whatever that looks like, that’s my goal."
Well, for all the Cardinals who would rather not go public (and even those who have) with their individual goals for 2014, let me offer a hand. These aren’t really goals, and they’re not predictions. They’re more like expectations — reasonable expectations based on what they did last season and what I saw this spring.
STARTING POSITION PLAYERS
Holliday: Topping his best season — a 2007 campaign in which he hit .340 with 36 homers, 50 doubles, 120 runs, 137 RBIs and a 1.012 OPS — is as likely as the Cubs winning the NL Central. If Holliday could stay as healthy all season as he is now, he has another MVP-type season in him. Or at least this: .300, 25 homers, 100 RBIs and 110 runs.
Yadier Molina: A batting title. That looks like the only way he has a chance to win what he should have won last year: the NL MVP award. It’s doable, too. Molina was hitting an NL-best .335 last July 29, which was a few weeks after he started dealing with a knee issue that affected him much of the second half.
Allen Craig: 100 RBIs. Or, how about 145 games played? Triple-figure RBIs are a lock if Craig can avoid injury. He drove in 97 runs last year in 134 games, 92 in 119 in 2012. A .300 batting average seems like a sure thing, too, no matter how many games he plays.
Matt Carpenter: 100 runs. He can’t be expected to lead the majors again with 126 runs (as well as 199 hits, 55 doubles, a .318 average and .873 OPS). But he should not drop off too much.
Jhonny Peralta: 18 homers. If such an output seems lofty after he homered only 11 times last season, remember he was suspended for 50 games and played in an even bigger ballpark than Busch Stadium.
Matt Adams: 28 homers. With an additional 200 at-bats that should come from playing regularly, if Adams can repeat his rate of a homer every 17.4 at-bats, he’ll add 11 homers to last year’s total of 17.
Kolten Wong: 130 starts at second base. If he’s in the lineup that often, you can count on his numbers being better than David Freese’s in 2013: 53 runs, .262 average and a .340 OBP.
Bourjos: .340 on-base percentage. The key to 40 steals is reaching base. Bourjos posted a career-best .333 OBP last season, so .340 is very possible, perhaps even likely since hitting in front of the pitcher should add to his walks.
Wainwright: The Cy Young. All he needs is another season like last year (241 2/3 innings, 2.94 ERA and 19 wins) — and to have Clayton Kershaw stay on the disabled list for a few weeks.
Lynn: A 3.50 ERA to go with another 200-plus innings. Lynn has 33 wins over the past two seasons with a 3.88 ERA. Lower the ERA and the wins as well as the innings figure to rise.
Shelby Miller: A 3.06 ERA, 173 1/3 innings and 15 wins. Seriously, don’t you think the Cardinals happily would take a repeat of his rookie season? If he were to approach 200 innings, they’d be downright giddy.
Michael Wacha: 15 wins, 173 1/3 innings and a 3.06 ERA. Let’s not get too carried away with his breakout October. If Wacha in his first full season could duplicate what Miller accomplished in his first full season, the Cardinals would not be disappointed. If nothing else, this shows just how impressive was Miller’s 2013.
Joe Kelly: Twenty-five starts. He started 16 times in 2012 and 15 times last year. Finally with a chance to begin the season in the rotation, Kelly has the opportunity to prove he can be a full-time starter. Making 25 starts would be a huge step in the right direction.
Trevor Rosenthal: Forty-five saves. That seems almost like a given considering how he has dominated in his first two seasons. But only three pitchers reached that total in 2013, and all three had been closing for more than a month.
Carlos Martinez: 15 starts. Not sure when his opportunity will come but when it does, you can count on him making the most of it. No one on the club pitched better in spring training.
Kevin Siegrist: A 0.90 ERA. Unrealistic? Not when you consider it would be twice as high as his ERA last year.
Randy Choate: A .150 batting average against left-handed hitters. That would be an improvement over 2013’s .178 but in line with what Choate managed in the two previous seasons, when he held lefties to .158 and .145 averages with the Dodgers and Marlins.
Seth Maness: Stay in the big leagues all season. The Cardinals begin the season with seven pitchers on the roster who were rookies last season. After a spring training that was more down than up, Maness enters the season as the one most likely to suffer a sophomore slump.
Keith Butler: 20 saves (for Memphis). With Jason Motte on the way back, Butler’s time on the big-league roster figures to be limited — unless Maness continues to stumble.
Pat Neshek: To average more than a strikeout per inning. After rediscovering his fastball, Neshek enjoyed a strong spring and became the only non-roster invitee to make the Cardinals’ roster. A good heater will be key to staying on it.
Jon Jay: .300 batting average. It wouldn’t be his first time. In four seasons, Jay has topped .300 two times and owns a .293 career average.
Shane Robinson: 100 games played. In other words, another season like the past two (102 and 99 games, respectively).
Mark Ellis: 98 games played. Any fewer would be a career low.
Daniel Descalso: .250 batting average. He has hit .238 and .227 the past two years, though it seems like he’s been much better.
Tony Cruz: Two home runs. That would double his total from each of the past two seasons. The Cardinals just hope he doesn’t double his games played from the past two seasons (51 each).
Pete Kozma: Start a game in the playoffs. He’ll need to show huge improvement with his bat to stay on the roster when Ellis comes off the DL, much less make the starting lineup come October.
You can follow Stan McNeal on Twitter at @stanmcneal or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.