The St. Louis Cardinals are having an exciting 2021 season.
Not many folks expected the team to contend for a playoff bid, but with three weeks remaining, the club is currently just a half-game out of a Wild Card spot in the NL.
Fans in St. Louis would love to see the team return to the playoffs for the third straight year, and it’s a realistic possibility.
There are a few players who have carried the Cardinals to this point, and today, we’re going to rank them.
Here are St. Louis’ three best players in 2021.
3. Adam Wainwright
Age means absolutely nothing to Adam Wainwright.
The veteran is having one of the best seasons of his career at 40 years old.
Over 29 starts, the righty has a 2.88 ERA, 3.50 FIP, and 1.03 WHIP.
40-year-old Adam Wainwright has a 2.88 ERA this season! pic.twitter.com/Y3jXO8EwMD
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) September 14, 2021
He has a 1.24 ERA over his last seven starts and a 2.27 ERA over his last 19 starts.
He also has a 3.8 WAR on the year.
The three-time All-Star figures to become an even bigger weapon if the Cardinals make the playoffs.
Reason being, Wainwright has an absurdly impressive postseason resume.
He has a career 2.89 ERA over 28 playoff outings.
He’s a two-time World Series champ, and he’d presumably love to make it three.
2. Paul Goldschmidt
Paul Goldschmidt is one of the most consistent hitters in baseball.
Year in and year out, you always know what you’re going to get from this guy.
This season, he has given the Cardinals exactly what they’ve needed.
He’s slashing .285/.355/.484 over 140 games.
He has homered 25 times, doubled 28 times, and tripled twice.
He leads the team in bWAR with 5.0.
Goldschmidt’s campaign got off to somewhat of a rocky start, but he turned things around in a big way.
Over his last 62 games, he’s batting .332 with a .985 OPS.
Very impressive stuff from the veteran.
1. Tyler O’Neill
Tyler O’Neill has come out of nowhere this year.
This is the 26-year-old’s fourth MLB season, and it has been an extremely surprising one.
He’s typically known for his defense, but he has been arguably the Cardinals’ best hitter in 2021.
He’s slashing .278/.349/.520 with 25 homers, 22 doubles, and a triple over 119 games.
Tyler O'Neill obliterates a ball 451ft deep left to extend the Cardinals' lead by ✌️! 🚀
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) June 10, 2021
He has a 140 OPS+, 134 wRC+, and 4.9 WAR.
He will almost certainly pop up on some MVP ballots at the end of the year.
And as good as he has been all season, he has been even better lately.
He’s batting .311 with a .971 OPS and eight homers over his last 36 games.
If the Cardinals crack the playoffs, O’Neill will deserve a massive chunk of the credit.
If they get there, the Cardinals are certainly capable of making some noise in the postseason.
This team is loaded with players that have valuable playoff experience, and if the right dominoes fall, St. Louis could easily make a deep run.
But reaching the postseason is the priority right now.
The Cardinals have a very fair chance at stealing the NL’s second Wild Card bid, but it’s going to take a strong showing over the next few weeks to get the job done.
St. Louis will play the New York Mets today and tomorrow before heading into a massive series with the San Diego Padres this weekend.