Although he didn’t finish the season in the standings or in the lineup where he expected, Dexter Fowler pointed to another unexpected twist that defined his first summer with the Cardinals.

Forget leadoff or cleanup. Too often, injuries kept him out of the lineup entirely.

“I’ve got to play more,” Fowler said. “I feel like I missed out on almost 200 at-bats, 200 plate appearances. I feel like I could have done some work. … Those injuries — they make me mentally tougher. But it’s been a tough year for me. It’s something to build on next year. Go home. Get some rest. And come back and hopefully get to play at least 150, 162 games.”

Once the Cardinals were eliminated from contention, Fowler did not play any of the final three games, and that left him with the fewest plate appearances of his career as a regular starter. He appeared in 118 games, started 108 in center, and, when healthy, put up robust production. The switch-hitter hit a career-best 18 homers and had a career-high 64 RBIs — all in 176 fewer at-bats than 2015, when he set the previous highs.

The career-best .488 slugging percentage and .851 OPS also came as he shifted from his preferred and advertised spot in the lineup, leadoff, to No. 3 or cleanup. The Cardinals intend to go shopping for a middle-order hitter this winter, and Fowler was asked Sunday if he might be one of the answers.

“No, I don’t think I’m the guy,” Fowler said. “I feel like I’m a leadoff hitter. Wherever the team needs me, I’ll be there.”