The Cardinals are making an incredible rise after their dreadful start. The team climbs closer and closer to .500 as they win series after series. There have been a couple of things that have turned the Cardinals around. The pitching has improved some. However, this team is winning ball games with their bats.
It can be argued that no Red Bird is swinging the bat better than 23-year-old Nolan Gorman. Shoot! It can be argued that few players in all of baseball are swinging the bat better than the Cardinals’ young buck. Let’s look at what impact he is having on the team and what changes were made from the season prior.
New Year, New Gorman
Last year was Gorman’s first season of seeing major league action. He smacked some homers and had some contributions in 2022. The young lefty had 14 home runs through 89 games last year. This season he has played in just 44 games and has 13 home runs at the time of this writing. That is a drastic improvement, as he has doubled his home run rate! MLB analyst Mark Derozan did a great breakdown of exactly what has changed for Mr. Gorman.
There are a couple of mechanical changes and some mental adjustments as well. The physical changes are noticeable. As you can see below, he is in a much deeper stance compared to 2023. The other change is that Gorman added a healthy leg kick as well. These changes are not necessarily just adding raw power to his swing. What Derozan pointed out in his breakdown was that the big difference the changes are making is they allow Gorman to get to higher pitches more easily, while still maintaining power. Even more specifically, the Cardinals’ young stud can now unleash on fastballs that are in the middle and upper part of the strike zone.
The numbers certainly agree with what Derozan had to say about these changes. The number one pitch that is thrown higher in the zone is a 4-seam fastball. In 2022 Gorman hit just .160 against 4-seamers. This is odd, considering it should be the easiest pitch to figure out. That same rookie season, Gorman was hitting the breaking ball and off-speed pitch much better. He hit .260 and .273 against those pitches, respectively. This is odd to see from a rookie who might not be used to seeing MLB-caliber pitchers who have better non-fastball pitches.
These numbers make total sense once you see the changes he made. In 2022 Gorman’s body and hands were set up much lower. This would allow him to better hit pitches that are lower in the zone, like off-speed pitches and breaking balls. Gorman even hit .265 against sinkers last year, which is a fastball! But sinkers are thrown low in the zone. All Gorman could get to was low-breaking balls that might cut out of the zone. This likely was partially why his strikeout % was high, and it made at-bats much more uncomfortable mentally.
Nolan Gorman makes baseballs go crying to their mommies!
In 2023 Gorman is now standing taller and is not discriminating against what pitch he pummels. He is hitting .311 against the fastball. He’s not overcompensating against the other pitches, either. Gorman is still hitting .270 against breaking balls and .286 against off-speed pitches. His at-bats also just look far more comfortable. His K% went down 7%, and his BB% went up 3%. This lets you know that he’s mentally more sound at the plate. All of those fancy numbers put together, and he has the 3rd highest OPS in baseball and is tied for 5th in home runs.
Gorman is a legitimate 3rd MVP caliber bat in the Cardinals lineup right now. Amidst all of the chaos of this season, Gorman has been incredible, to say the least. Marmol is even finally letting him play every day against lefties. Deservedly so. His OPS is higher against lefties than it is against right-handers. Unfortunately, Gorman plays second and third base which are deep positions for the Cardinals, so he is forced to DH most nights.
Still, the young Cardinal lefty power bat looks primed to help the Red Birds make a postseason run and terrorize the National League alongside Jordan Walker for many years to come.