Coming into the 2022 season the St. Louis Cardinals had a lot a questions. How would their rookie manager perform? Would there pitching staff perform any better then last season? However, arguably the biggest question mark was, what are the Cardinals doing at the shortstop position?
During the off-season all signs pointed toward the Cardinals signing Trevor Story until out of nowhere the front office announced that they will stick it out with veteran Paul DeJong. When DeJong burst onto scene in 2017 many fans believed he was the future for St. Louis, as he hit .285 in 118 games. The next 2 seasons the batting average dropped with DeJong hitting just .241 and .233 respectively. In the 2020 Covid season he rebounded back up to .250, however that did not last long.
Dejong fell off the planet in 2021 with a measly .197 batting average in 113 games. The strikeouts were up and slugging percentage was down. Through the struggles, the Cardinals' front office continued to stick with him until a few weeks ago when they decided to send Paul DeJong down to Triple-A Memphis after starting out the 2022 season with a .133 batting average. With DeJong struggling as mightily as he was, it was time for a change. Nolan Gorman was tearing the cover off the ball in Triple-A with a .308 batting average and 15 home runs in 34 games, which lead all of the minor leagues. After a few weeks, it was finally time for Gorman to be called up.
The only question about Gorman’s call up was where would he play defensively. Third base wasn’t an option with the Cardinals starting platinum glove winner Nolan Arenado there. Gorman cannot play major league shortstop either, so the solution was 2nd base. This meant that the Tommy Edman, who was their gold glove 2nd basemen, would slide over to shortstop, a familiar position to him. Gorman slotted in well at 2nd base, which gave the Cardinals a stacked defense and solidified them up the middle.
The addition of Gorman was big in two huge ways. First of all, this brings a much needed lefty to a Cardinals lineup that was right handed heavy. Additionally, it allows Oli Marmol to construct a lineup that can protect Gorman against lefties which he has struggled against early in his career. The Cardinals have right handed power hitters like Pujols, Goldschmidt, and Arenado who can crush lefties and be put either in front or behind Gorman to set him up well.
This, finally, allows the Cardinals front office to be active at the trade deadline and make a splash for a starting pitcher. With arms like Frankie Montas hopefully available in July, St. Louis can use Dejong, who is on a friendly contract, as a trade piece to shell off to a team who’s willing to take a chance on the veteran infielder.
Through 31 at-bats Gorman is hitting .387 with 2 home runs and 9 runs batted in, which shows that he can hit major league pitching. As long as strikeouts do not become an issue, it appears Gorman is here to stay. Cardinals fans can rest easy knowing that the middle infield is settled for years to come, and it's time to go win some baseball games.