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Evaluating Nolan Arenado’s start to the season

Stats as of June 22nd

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Milwaukee Brewers Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

So far, we have taken a deep dive into the analytical stats for the likes of Paul Goldschmidt, Tommy Edman and Adam Wainwright amongst others. This week, we are going to decipher whether or not the Cardinals can rely on Nolan Arenado to continue his current form, and if he will be one of the key contributors for their offense.

The good

Arenado’s xBA of .270, which ranks in the 61st percentile, is only .004 below his actual batting average. Additionally, his xWOBA of .342 which falls into the 57th percentile is only .019 points below his actual wOBA. His expected numbers in both categories being so close to his actual numbers tell us any regression in these stats is unlikely. His xSLG percentage of .457 falls into the 57th percentile in baseball. His strikeout rate is one of the best numbers in the league at 12.6 percent, as it sits in the 93rd percentile, and his walk rate of 9.7 percent is in the 66th percentile.

Arenado is crushing fastballs, which make up 49.6 percent of the pitches he is seeing, which is 7.3 percent lower than last year’s total. Against them he is carrying an xBA of .301, xSLG% of .565 and an xwOBA of .403, all of which are up significantly from last season. His average exit velocity of 91.2 MPH is 0.8 MPH than last year’s total and his whiff rate of 17 percent is 4.2 points higher than last season’s mark.

Arenado is doing a good job of keeping the ball off of the ground with a ground ball rate of 29.8 percent, which is 15.2 percent lower than league average. His flyball rate of 28.8 percent is 3.9 percent lower than last season’s mark, but still is 5.9 percent above league average.

Arenado’s zone contact rate of 87 percent is down 2.6 percent from last season but is still 5 percent higher than league average. Additionally, his chase contact rate of 66.3 percent is 1 percent above last year’s percentage and is 7.9 percent above league average. His whiff rate of 20.2 percent is 1.2 percent higher than last year’s total, but it still sits in the 77th percentile amongst hitters.

Arenado has still been one of the best defenders in the game of baseball, with his outs above average sitting in the 97th percentile, having already totaled 6 outs above average at the hot corner.

The bad

Arenado has really struggled to make consistent hard contact this year, which has been a trend for his time with the Cardinals. Arenado’s average exit velocity of 88.4 MPH falls into the bottom 38th percentile. His hard hit rate of 37.7 percent sits in the bottom 35th percentile, and his barrel rate of 6.5 percent is in the bottom 37th percentile.

Arenado is struggling mightily against breaking pitches this season which make up 40.2 percent of the pitches he is seeing this season, compared to 34.9 percent from last season. Thus far, he has posted an xBA of .231, xSLG percentage of .333, and xwOBA of .263 against them. Arenado’s average exit velocity when facing them sits at 85.5 MPH, and his whiff rate against is 23.4 percent, which is 4.4 percent lower than last year’s total.

Arenado’s pop-up problem is rearing its ugly head this season, as it currently sits at 16.3 percent — 9.2 percent higher than league average. Arenado is also pulling the ball far more than normal, as he is currently sitting at a pull rate of 45.6 percent; that’s about 8.9 percent higher than his average since the start of the 2015 season. His oppo percent of 20.5 is 0.3 points lower than last season’s total and 4.9 percent lower than his average from 2015-2022.

Arenado’s chase rate of 30.7 percent falls in the bottom 34th percentile is 1.7 percent above last season’s mark.

Arenado is still one of the better third basemen in baseball, and he will continue to be a key contributor to this offense. It is unlikely that we will see him touch the heights he did in Colorado where he was consistently posting .930+ OPS season after season. However, that does not mean he will not be a plenty effective player for the Cardinals for this season and years to come.