For weeks I’ve been chirping an opinion that was often met with dissent and some disbelief. In my view, the Cardinals had a very good offense in 2022, and I’m confident their lineup will be even better in 2023. But I can only write so many “don’t worry so much about the offense” columns before realizing it’s time to shut up about it.

I realize that the virtual postseason no-show against the Phillies was a source of anger and frustration. I understand that. I shared in that disdain. I wrote about it – and past postseason failures – quite often. I also know that you can never have too many good hitters and I hoped the Cardinals would make an outside move to upgrade the depth to have more muscle from the bench.

But I also realize that it’s irrational to condemn an entire season of quality offense based on the failure to score in 17 of 18 innings against the Phillies. And I respectfully decline to throw a 162-game, regular-season offensive performance in the trash mostly because Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado didn’t do diddly in their combined at-bats against Philadelphia. (1 for 15, six strikeouts.) And if we add Albert Pujols, the St. Louis “Big 3” made 21 outs in their 24 plate appearances. That won’t get a team very far in October.

But during the regular season the 2022 Cardinals were tied for 5th in the majors in runs. They were second overall and 1st in the NL in OPS+. They were tied for first in having the best walk-strikeout ratio in the majors. That included MLB’s fourth-lowest strikeout rate.

The ‘22 Cardinals were 4th in onbase percentage, 5th in OPS, 6th in doubles, 7th in slugging and finished among the top 10 in homers and batting average. In addition the Cardinals improved significantly in their home performance, ranking tied for third in the majors home offense with an wRC+ that was 19 percent above league average offensively.

Sure, they beat up on some truly bad pitching in the NL Central, but you can only play the teams that are placed on your schedule. And as we’ve all talked about a million times, the Cardinals are fortunate to reside in the NL Central. And as I pointed out in a recent column, the Cardinals’ offensive numbers vs. postseason-bound teams wasn’t close to matching their hitting stats against NL Central opponents. Which means they must get better – either within the organization, or players rebounding from injury-torn seasons, or by adding a bat through a trade.

The 2022 Cardinals were also dealing with a black hole (offensively) at catcher and injuries to Tyler O’Neill, Dylan Carlson and Juan Yepez. They didn’t have a full season of Lars Nootbaar, and Corey Dickerson didn’t start hitting until around July 11. Albert Pujols was absolutely great, but most of his damage came after the first three-plus months. The Cardinals have no shortage of candidates to plug in at DH, and should be fine there in 2023.

My problem isn’t with those of you who want to have another impact bat in this Cardinal lineup. My complaint is with those who go to a preposterous extreme by depicting the St. Louis lineup as a helpless, feckless collection of weaklings. OK, I’m exaggerating. The unhappy fans aren’t that bad. But I’m just perplexed by the negativity concerning an offense that displayed across-the-board improvement from 2021 to 2022. And when your team ranks tied for 5th in the majors in average runs per game, that’s nothing to squawk about.

Why am I talking about all of this again?

Well, you can blame it on Bradford Doolittle of Doolittle, an excellent baseball analyst, came out with his “way too early” rankings for the best lineups in baseball.

Doolittle had San Diego at No. 1.

And at No. 2?

Your St. Louis Cardinals.

“This doesn’t look like the most athletic Cardinals team in history but it does look like a lineup that can mash up and down the order. As in from the very top to the very bottom,” Doolittle wrote.

He added: “The lineup, already deep, got even longer with the offseason addition of (catcher) Willson Contreras. The Cardinals are projected to have six players in the 90th percentile or better by OPS+, the most of any club in the majors.”

Doolittle listed “patience, strike-zone command, long ball” and batting average with balls in play as the team’s best traits. The worst trait, in his opinion, is team speed.

The author also noted that the Cardinals will have to benefit from the ongoing development and success from some young players including Carlson, Nootbaar, Brendan Donovan and Yepez.

True. “But,” Doolittle added, “it’s an impressive mix and the base lineup doesn’t even include youngsters Nolan Gorman, who can mash but has questionable strike-zone command, and Jordan Walker, who could hit St. Louis with a flourish this season.”

The rankings are available at but this piece requires a subscription to ESPN+. I’m a subscriber from way back, and I suppose I broke a rule by quoting from it so extensively. And I encourage you to sign up for ESPN+. A riches of content is available behind the pay wall. But Doolittle’s ranking of the STL lineup was noteworthy, and I wanted you to know about it. I also wanted some backup on my claim that this is a good lineup.

Thanks for reading …


Bernie invites you to listen to his opinionated and analytical sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS-AM. It airs Monday through Thursday from 3-6 p.m. and Friday from 4-6 p.m. You can listen by streaming online or by downloading the show podcast at or the 590 app.

Follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz

All stats used here were sourced from FanGraphs, ESPN, Baseball Reference, Stathead, Bill James Online, Fielding Bible, Baseball Prospectus, Baseball Savant, Brooks Baseball Net and Spotrac.


Bernie Miklasz
Bernie Miklasz

For the last 35 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.

While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.