Most valuable players of 2016
- Carlos Martinez – The 25-year-old right-handed starting pitcher was sensational last year. But in 2016 he took a huge leap toward becoming more consistent, which is exactly what he needed to do to become an ace-quality big league hurler. While the Cardinals starting rotation was largely disappointing, Martinez was a shining star, posting a 16-9 record with a 3.04 ERA.
- Aledmys Diaz – He was designated for assignment a year ago and could have been claimed by any team in Major League Baseball. I bet there are a lot of general managers who are kicking themselves now. Still not sold on Diaz, he was demoted to Class AAA in spring training even after Jhonny Peralta went to the disabled list with a torn ligament in his thumb. When further injuries forced the front office’s hand, Diaz made the most of his opportunity. He hit better than .300 with 17 homers and, after a rough start with the glove, seized the starting job at shortstop even after Peralta returned to the active roster. Diaz has been the spark plug for the St. Louis offense much of the season, aggressively running the bases and piling up the extra-base hits.
- Yadier Molina – A mid-season slump seems to have somehow disguised what has turned out to be a pretty good overall season at the plate. Yadi was batting .303 with two games to play and has collected a team-leading 37 doubles. There seems to be a perception that Molina’s defense has slipped. But the Redbirds’ have a pitching staff that is generally terrible at holding runners at first base. So I think much of the blme for his percentage of throwing out base runners ought to be spread around.
- Seung-hwan Oh -He was a bit of a fishing expedition. A former Korean and Japanese league closer on the wrong side of 30, the Cardinals thought Oh might be a decent middle reliever. And he was. Until the team eventually pushed him into a setup role — and then made him closer when incumbent finisher Trevor Rosenthal blew up. Oh has pitched 78 2/3 innings and allowed only 53 hits en route to 18 saves and a 1.94 ERA.
- Matt Bowman – It didn’t seem like the Rule 5 draft pick from the New York Mets system had a chance to make the Cardinals roster after a pretty terrible performance in spring training. He allowed 15 hits and 11 runs in nine innings of Grapefruit League play but got the benefit of the doubt and made the club. It’s been all good since then. He’s appeared in 68 games with a solid 3.51 ERA and has pitched seemingly every day when the Birds needed a stabilizing force in the middle to late innings.