Associated Press
The season for the reigning world champions St. Louis Cardinals has been one filled with surprises.

One of the biggest surprises was being long-time Cardinal Albert Pujols leaving the franchise to sign with the Los Angeles Angels. In an attempt to replace Pujols, the Cardinals re-signed veteran outfielder Carlos Beltran.

Although Beltran is not Albert Pujols, he is having a very good season for St. Louis with 28 HRs and 86 RBI. Nobody expected Beltran to play this well and basically be matching Pujols numbers.

As of September 1, the Cardinals have a 72-61 record and are in possession of the second NL Wild Card Spot. We all know the story of the Cardinals last year when they got hot and never looked back-until they were holding up the World Series trophy.

They are in a very similar situation this year, (as they were last year) by being in the hunt for a Wild Card spot. This year’s Cardinals squad is not the same as the 2011 World Series team version.

With Tony La Russa, Chris Carpenter, Lance Berkman and Pujols all gone or injured, the Cards have a different look. All three of those players played a major significance in the Cards winning the World Series in 2011.

The Cards have had many players step up this season. Yadier Molina has really picked up his offensive game and has exploded for 17 HRs and a .322 average. Molina has always been known for being one of the best defensive catchers around, but this year he has really added a solid offensive game to his resume.

Other pleasant surprises the Cards have had this year have been: Jon Jay, Craig, Carpenter, and Freese, which all of them are currently hitting over .300. Kyle Lohse, (14-2, 2.81 ERA) has carried the Cardinals pitching staff all season long with Chris Carpenter out of the rotation due to injury.

With Adam Wainwright back from Tommy John surgery and pitching well, the Cards rotation has been solid. Lance Lynn started the season off great but has struggled since the All-Star break with a 5.36 ERA.

Overall, I believe St. Louis have enough players that have stepped up to signify that they will be dangerous in the playoffs. If I’m an opposing team the Cardinals, they are one of the last teams I would want to play.

With Beltran, Molina and Holiday, the Cards have a very good middle of the order. St. Louis will go as far as their lineup takes them. With their table setter Rafael Furcal struggling, the Cards will need the young guys to step up if the city of St. Louis wants to see another parade!

This article was originally published at MLB Reports.  

MLB Reports is a partner of FootBasket. You can see more about them at their website. Follow them on Twitter @MLBReports


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