One of our regular offseason traditions is the Exit Interview, where we look back at each player that got into a game for the St. Louis Cardinals in the past season. This is the 11th season we’ve done this and it’s a good way to get a view of the whole year, not just a short stretch of games. It’s sort of like a performance review before the players went off to their offseason work, spending a little time with Oli Marmol and going over what went right, what went wrong. Stats and grades are only for a player’s time in St. Louis, though splits numbers may include other teams. As always, my sincere thanks to the legend of cardinalsgifs for providing the header image!
Player: Nolan Arenado
Season stats: 148 G, 620 PA, 73 R, 42 2B, 1 3B, 30 HR, 103 RBI, 5 SB, 3 CS, 52 BB, 72 K, .293/.358/.533, 154 OPS+, 7.9 bWAR, 7.3 fWAR
Statcast: .381 xwOBA, 8.2 barrel %, 88.7 exit velocity, 38.9 hard hit %, 11.6 K %, 8.4 BB %
Best Statcast category: Outs Above Average (99th percentile)
Worst Statcast category: Sprint Speed (12th percentile)
Hero/Goat: Hero 19, Goat 9
Positives: Continued to show why Cardinal fans wanted him for so long, putting up MVP-consideration numbers….actually put up a tenth of a point more bWAR than Paul Goldschmidt, who will likely win NL MVP….won his 10th straight Gold Glove, putting up his third-highest defensive WAR in his career….slashed .303/.367/.512 off of right-handed pitchers….hit .303 with 16 homers away from Busch Stadium….got off to a hot start, putting up a 1.125 OPS in April….had three months with an OPS over 1.000 (April, July, August)….21 of his 30 homers came in games St. Louis won….had a .944 OPS in 17 games as DH….seven homers came on the first pitch of an at bat, where he hit .420/.429/.841….had a 1.154 OPS when ahead in the count….12 of his home runs came with two outs in an inning….hit .290 with runners in scoring position….had a 1.030 OPS with ducks on the pond….in five AB with two outs and the bases loaded, had two doubles and five RBI….hit .254 with four homers (and 11 walks) with two outs and RISP….hit .300 with a .988 OPS in high leverage situations….13 of his homers came in the first three innings, including six in the first….hit more homers against the Brewers (4) than against any other team….torched the Phillies in the regular season for a .455/.520/1.000 line in six games….one of those games was his only multi-homer game of the year….hit for the cycle the night before in Philadelphia….had four four-hit nights…..20 of his homers were with men on….was in the top 3% of baseball in wOBA and strikeout rate.
Negatives: Much like Goldschmidt, had a rough September, finishing the season with a .221/.302/.347 line….hit his last home run on September 24….went 1-8 in the playoffs, though hit a number of balls hard….had a .642 OPS in May….had a .736 OPS hitting third (26 games)….when pitchers were ahead, posted a .628 OPS….hit .251 with no outs….slashed .210/.269/.371 in the third inning….had a .696 OPS the second time he saw a pitcher in a game….hit .214 on offspeed pitches….did not hit an opposite field home run.
Overview: Nolan being Nolan. He continued to be the best third baseman out there with the glove, turning in amazing plays on almost a nightly basis. He proved–as if last year didn’t–that he can hit perfectly well outside of Coors Field. Fourteen of his homers came at Busch Stadium, a place that’s hard for anyone to hit. We also finally got to see him and Goldschmidt click at the same time, fueling a summer run that led to a division title, the first of Arenado’s career. Nobody’s perfect, of course, but Arenado had a year that came fairly close. He’d have liked a better postseason, of course, but there aren’t many Cardinals that couldn’t say that.
Outlook: Arenado has already committed to the Cardinals, declining to exercise his second (and last) opt-in. Arenado’s right in the prime of his career and it’s going to be great to see him flashing the leather and getting fired up after a home run again in 2023 and for many years to come.