The Cardinals are good — this we know. But just in case we’d somehow forgotten, the fact they have eight players on MLB Network’s 2014 list of Top 100 Right Now is definitely a reminder.
The criteria MLB Network uses for determining the rankings are a player’s stats for the last three seasons, with 2013 weighted more heavily; projected performance in the 2014 season; the defensive position played; accolades earned by the player; and intangibles.
There was a youth movement on the overall MLB list, as 21 of the 100 total are age 25 or younger. Four of the eight Cardinals fit into that category too.
It’s probably no surprise who those four are either. Three are pitchers, and they appeared in a row at the start of the countdown from 100 to the top spot: 23-year-old Shelby Miller at No. 93, 22-year-old Michael Wacha at No.92 and 23-year-old Trevor Rosenthal at No. 91. (Just FYI, Pirate Gerrit Cole was right before them at No. 94.) Impressive debuts on the Top 100 for all three, especially Wacha. Would postseason performance be one of the intangibles?
Next up: 25-year-old Matt Carpenter at No. 65, a very respectable spot after his amazing 2013 season.
At No. 53 is Allen Craig, who jumped up from No. 84 on last year’s Top 100. Staying in the same spot as last year: Matt Holliday at No. 41.
Based on his bounceback last season after his 2012 post-Tommy John season, Adam Wainwright moved up to No. 32 on this year’s countdown — a nice increase from last year’s No. 89.
No surprise whatsoever who’s the highest-ranking Cardinal: Yadier Molina, of course, who moves up from last year’s No. 24 spot. And no surprise that there was plenty of praise for Yadi in light of his finishing in the Top 5 in the past two NL MVP races, his six Gold Gloves, his leadership of the pitching staff and his value to the Cardinals overall.
“He’s finally getting his due,” Dan Plesac of MLB Network said. “He is just smooth in everything he does behind the plate. This guy can catch, he can throw, shuts down the running game and, on top of that, the past two years he’s turned himself into a force offensively. Make no mistake. This young Cardinals’ pitching staff, both starting and relieving — why are they doing so well? Because they’ve got the man behind the plate, Yadier Molina. Right now he is, head and shoulders, the best catcher all around in the game of baseball.”
Who are the 13 players better than Yadi? From 13 to 1, they are Troy Tulowitzki, Max Scherzer, Carlos Gonzalez, David Price, Paul Goldschmidt, Joey Votto, Felix Hernandez, Adrian Beltre, Robinson Cano, Andrew McCutchen, Miguel Cabrera, Clayton Kershaw and — no surprise at all — Mike Trout at the top.
And, if you’re curious, former Cardinals on the list are Carlos Beltran at No. 47 (a jump up from No. 82 a year ago) and That Guy Who Used to Play First Base at No. 80, quite a fall from last year’s No. 14.
Christine Coleman is the lead writer for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates and like us on Facebook if you don’t already.