The St. Louis Cardinals lost the best player in Major League Baseball this offseason.
Cardinals fans around the country were devastated to find out that first baseman Albert Pujols left St. Louis to join the Los Angeles Angels. Not only did the Cardinals lose a great first baseman in Pujols, but they also lost arguably the best hitter in the Majors.
Pujols was among the league leaders in home runs and runs batted in every year. During his 11 years with the Cardinals, Pujols accounted for 445 home runs and 1329 runs batted in. Those numbers are difficult to replace.
The Cardinals lived and breathed off of their offense last season. In 2011, the Cardinals were in the top five in runs, batting average and on-base percentage. In order to have any chance at repeating in 2012, the Cardinals must get a lot from the hitters still on their team.
Players like Lance Berkman will have to play just as well, if not better, than last year. The Cardinals will need Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran and David Freese to bring their bats next year. These guys, especially Holliday and Beltran, can hit for power and have proven that in their careers.
Freese and players like Skip Schumaker, Rafeal Furcal, Jon Jay and Yadier Molina are all capable of hitting the ball well, but they will need to be exceptional to account for the absence of Pujols.
The Cardinals have a bullpen that should be much improved from last year, and that will help a St. Louis offense that may have some growing pains. The signing of Beltran helped the Cardinals, but he will need to put up numbers like he did in his prime to truly help the Cardinals.
St. Louis will do a good job of replacing Pujols in 2012, but they may need to add one more power hitter before the season begins. A guy like Prince Fielder is out of the question, but possibly a guy like Johnny Gomes could come into the outfield rotation and help the Cardinals throughout 2012.
Even if the Cardinals do not bring in anyone else before the season starts, they have a roster that could be good offensively. It will be interesting to see how the Cardinals handle the 2012 season without Pujols and the power that they were so used to.