Fantasy Baseball 2011: A Deep Look At The St. Louis Cardinals

Ray TannockSenior Analyst IFebruary 23, 2011

ST LOUIS - OCTOBER 24:  Starting pitcher Chris Carpenter #29 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrates an inning ending double play hit by Brandon Inge #15 of the Detroit Tigers in the top of the eighth during Game Three of the 2006 World Series at Busch Stadium on October 24, 2006 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

 The St. Louis Cardinals offer plenty of fantasy baseball value in 2011 from font to back of the draft board. But the Cardinals have also had some issues with consistency over the past few years, and a couple of questions surrounding some key players.

  • Can Skip Schumaker bounce back from a terrible 2010 season?
  • Can Colby Rasmus lower his dangerous strikeout count?
  • Can the starting rotation provide more reliability to fantasy owners than they did in 2010?

All this and more is covered below. Let’s take a look at what the St. Louis Cardinals have to offer in the 2011 fantasy baseball season.

Impact Players (Hitters):

  • 1. Albert Pujols, 1B: There is no guess work involved here as Pujols remains one of the top hitters in the 2011 fantasy draft. With six seasons of 40 plus HRs under his belt, and not a single season in which he did not hit over 100 RBI, it’s safe to say you take the guy with your first selection. And don’t worry about that contract mumbo jumbo, everything will be fine in St. Louis.
  • 2. Matt Holliday, OF: Holliday is an elite hitter who can hit for power, and provide fantasy owners consistent fantasy baseball points all year long. He’s hit over 100 RBI in each of the last four seasons and is good for—at the minimum—25 to 30 HR. Matt Holliday is a Top 10 outfielder (take a look at where we have Holliday ranked) who is sure to go in the early rounds of every draft.
  • 3. Colby Rasmus, OF: Rasmus batted .276 with 23 home runs and 66 RBI in 464 at-bats last season, but struck out an alarming 148 times. Rasmus did say, however, that he figured out what the problem was and that he will adjust this year. Rasmus has the power and speed potential to be a 25-25 player, and makes an excellent No. 3 outfielder in your fantasy baseball draft.

The Pitching Staff: The following is a preliminary look at the projected lineup and what you could expect.

1. Adam Wainwright: The staff’s ace, Wainwright remains one of the best starting pitchers in the National League, and should be considered a Top 10 pitcher on draft day. He is 64-34 with a 2.93 ERA since becoming a full-time starter in 2007 and has become one of the better Fantasy options in baseball for his low ERA and high strikeout totals.

UPDATE – 2/23/2011: Club officials are saying that Waino could need Tommy John surgery, reports Joe Strauss on Twitter. While it is not completely definitive, this suden injury is still very bad news for Cardinals’ fans and fantasy baseball fans. As the news comes in, I’ll keep you guys abreast.

2. Chris Carpenter: Carpenter is a solid SP2 out of St. Louis who can throw a ton of strikes and provide fantasy baseball owners with those ever crucial wins. His durability could be a slight worry with his history of injuries, but if he remains healthy, he’s a solid Top 20 SP.
3. Jamie Garcia: Last year was Garcia’s rookie year, and it was a pretty good one as he went 13-8  with 132 strikeouts and an outstanding 2.70 ERA. He missed the last two games of the regular season due to arm fatigue, but that is always expected with rookies. Garcia is a great option in the middle region of your fantasy baseball draft with no limitations to league type.
4. Kyle Lohse: Lohse can pitch and throw strikes, but he’s more of an injury risk than anything. Keep him on your watch list after the season begins and explore other options at the end of your draft.
5. Jake Westbrook: A lot of people still think that Westbrook is a nice option as a late round flyer, but I’m not buying into it. Westbrook has always been a 50-50 pitcher with low strike counts, so he doesn’t come with a lot of value even at a dollar in an auction draft. You can do better.

Potential Sleeper: David Freese, 3B: Freese’s rookie season was a disappointment after only hitting four dingers in 240 AB, but that could be attributed to his ongoing ankle problems that were corrected surgically this off-season. Remember, this was the same kid who knocked 26 moonshots in his first season at Triple-A.

Freese should be rearing to go by April, and you can bet the kid will provide 20-25 HR with an average around .300 making him a worthy candidate for sleeper in nearly every league type.

And ta boot, he’ll more than likely be available in the back end of your fantasy baseball draft making his value extra tasty.

What You Should Know: The Cardinals offer much more in the hitting department outside of the three players mentioned above. Skip Schumaker, Ryan Theriot, Lance Berkman and even Yadier Molina are all worthy candidates for your consideration on draft day.

The only thing is, though, all of these players are best suited for the back end of your draft selection, and aren’t very good selections in deeper leagues—NL only leagues are more fitting.

The bullpen, and the starting rotation’s reliability for an entire season remains the most questionable aspect of the Cardinals, and you can find much better options than the likes of Ryan Franklin or Jason Motte.

Still,the Cardinals have plenty of shelf material for managers to consider when shopping around. Keep this team in the back of your mind on draft day, especially towards the end of your 2011 fantasy baseball draft.

Interested in another team? Check out our other Team Analysis: PhilliesCubsWhite SoxOriolesRedsYankeesRed SoxA’s

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