Nolan Gorman can be a gamebreaker or a heartbreaker.

Swing and a miss.

Swing and a miss.

Swing … and it’s a long one, deep to right, and it’s way, way outta here!

Another sonic boom from Gorman.

It’s OK to be frustrated by the way Gorman piles up strikeouts. And when he goes into a slump, the force of the whiffing generates so much wind it could cause the Mississippi River to flow backwards.

But I think it’s important to recognize all that Gorman does well for a 24-year old big leaguer that’s only two-plus months into his third major-league season. Even with a career strikeout rate of 33 percent, Gorman has the kind of power that doesn’t come along very often.

Not in the St. Louis organization, anyway. And Gorman’s young age puts him in a special category. An exclusive category.

Sunday night in Philadelphia, Gorman launched his 11th home run of the season and 52nd in his big-league career. It was a two-run wallop that gave the Cardinals a 2-0 lead, and he drove in the winning run in the 10th on a two-out single. Gorman’s strength lifted the Cardinals to a 5-4 win.

Gorman hit 52nd homer at (exactly) age 24 years and 24 days. And here’s where that home-run count ranks in St. Louis franchise history among players that were no older than 24 years, 24 days:

* Albert Pujols, 114
* Joe Medwick, 61
* Nolan Gorman, 52
* Ted Simmons, 38
* Stan Musial, 36.

Musial, Simmons and Medwick are Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Famers. Pujols will be inducted as soon as he’s eligible for the ballot.

I’m not predicting a Hall of Fame career for Gorman, but the lad from Arizona sure is hanging out with some impressive company on that home-run list.

Gorman’s 52 homers already are the most home runs by a Cardinal age 24 years and 24 days (or younger) who plays second base as a primary position. Next in line is Kolten Wong with 23.

Among franchise second basemen age 24 years and 24 days (or younger), Gorman has the most RBIs (139), the top slugging percentage (.455), the No. 1 OPS (.770) and the best OPS+. You know who’s second on the RBIs list for a player in that specific age group? That would be Hall of Famer Red Schoendienst with 129 runs batted in.

I got to work on the StatHead search engine to see what else I could come with. Here are a few more gems …

1) During the expansion era, which began in 1961, Gorman’s 52 homers rank 73rd for a player age 24 years and 24 days. We’re talking about hundreds and hundreds of hitters in that age classification, so being No. 73 is definitely impressive.

2) During MLB’s modern era, which began in 1901, only 97 players have banged at least 52 homers by age 24 years and 24 days.

3) You know who had exactly 52 home runs at the same age that Gorman is now? Answer: Mark McGwire. And among hitters age 24 years, 24 days or younger, Gorman has more homers than Vladimir Guerrero Sr., Frank Thomas, Dick Allen, Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, Orlando Cepeda, Will Clark, Dale Murphy, Harold Baines and Kent Hrbek. Plus many more.

4) Among left-handed batters age 24 years, 24 days and younger, Gorman’s 52 homers rank 31st on the list during the modern era. He has more, right now, than the number hit at the same age by notables such as Willie McCovey, Roger Maris and Billy Williams.

5) For career home runs hammered exclusively as a second baseman no older than 24 years and 24 days, Gorman ranks third during the expansion era with 40. Only Rougned Odor (87) and Ozzie Albies (60) have more. But those two hitters made it to the majors at age 20. Gorman’s debut came at age 22.

6) Gorman has 40 homers as a second baseman, nine as a DH, two as a third baseman and one as a pinch hitter. Gorman’s 52 homers at his current age are the sixth most in MLB history for the age group among hitters that have the same mix of playing second base, third base, DH and pinch hitter.

The Cardinals need Gorman to crank a lot more homers from now until the end of his age-24 season. With Lars Nootbaar and Willson Contreras on the IL – and Brendan Donovan dealing with a stiff neck – the Cardinals need their best hitters to come through to prevent the offense from fading.

In 68 plate appearances since May 10, Gorman has batted .322 with a 1.141 OPS. His contributions during the stretch include seven homers, three doubles, 16 RBIs and a generous 13 percent walk rate. During this hot streak Gorman has blasted a homer every 8.4 at bats.

Gorman needs 16 more to match his sophomore season total of 27 homers. Through Sunday he was slugging .457, which is getting him nearer to his .478 slug in 2023.

Considering that offense and power numbers are down throughout the majors this season, Gorman’s season totals are fine. In fact, because OPS+ is annually adjusted to reflect league and park effects, Gorman 118 OPS+ for 2024 is two points higher than last year. (100 is the league average.)

When Gorman fires up a home run in a game this season the Cardinals are 8-2. When he drives in a run, they’re 12-4. That shows us his impact.

Among MLB second basemen that have a minimum 150 plate appearances this season, Gorman leads in home runs (11) and OPS (.771) and is second in slugging percentage.

One item of a list of things for Gorman to do is help himself by lowering his troublesome strikeout rate (37.8%) against right-handed pitchers. He’s doing swell against lefty pitchers, muscling for a .473 slug, .779 OPS and a homer every 13.75 at-bats. The strikeouts are a problem but shouldn’t define Gorman. He’s providing solid defense and has formed a prolific double-play combination with shortstop Masyn Winn, so even the defensive part is flashy and entertaining. Gorman’s best is yet to come, but it’s good to take a few minutes to think about what he’s already done as a developing major-leaguer.

Thanks for reading …

–Bernie

A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Bernie hosts an opinionated sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS. It airs 3-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 4-6 p.m. Friday. Stream live or access the podcast on 590thefan.com or the 590 The Fan St. Louis app.

Please follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz and on Threads @miklaszb

For weekly Cards talk, listen to the “Seeing Red” podcast with Will Leitch and Miklasz via 590thefan.com or through your preferred podcast platform. Follow @seeingredpod on Twitter for a direct link.

Stats used in my baseball columns are sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, StatHead, Baseball Savant, Baseball Prospectus, Sports Info Solutions, Spotrac and Cot’s Contracts unless otherwise noted.

Bernie Miklasz

Bernie Miklasz

For the last 36 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. A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, 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.