Nolan Arenado is generally regarded as one of, if not the best third baseman in all of baseball. In 2023, however, that hasn’t been the case from an offensive standpoint. The St. Louis Cardinals’ star is hitting just .236/.291/.317 with a .608 OPS and only two home runs. His underperformance has unquestionably been a major factor in St. Louis’ frustrating campaign up to this point.
We aren’t here to kick Arenado while he’s down though. Instead, let’s take a deep dive and figure out exactly what is going wrong for Arenado so far in 2023.
Why Nolan Arenado is struggling: Strikeouts
Nolan Arenado’s Baseball Reference page is a sight to behold. It’s filled with no shortage of bold numbers (league-leading statistics) and stars (All-Star appearances). It also provides insight as to why Arenado is truly laboring in 2023.
It needs to be said that there are multiple things going wrong for the Cardinals’ third baseman. He’s hitting the ball on the ground far too often and his hard-hit percentage has dwindled from where it once was. He’s still hitting line drives at a fairly consistent rate, but his fly ball percentage is down, hence the dip in slugging/power. Arenado’s walk rate is right around his career average as well, so it isn’t as if he’s not drawing enough base-on-balls.
The real underlying and alarming reason why Nolan Arenado has struggled in 2023 is his strikeout rate.
Arenado’s career strikeout percentage is 14.8 percent. He’s never completed a season with a strikeout rate of more than 18.1 percent. He’s on track to set a new career high strikeout rate in 2023 if he doesn’t find his footing though. As of this story’s publication, Nolan Arenado is striking out at a 21.6 percent clip.
We live in an era where strikeouts are common, even for stars. But in 2022, Arenado recorded a quality 11.6 percent strikeout rate. When that number almost doubles in just one season, it is cause for concern.
Can Arenado get back on track?
The good news is that it is still extremely early in the 2023 season. Nolan Arenado can certainly get back on track soon. Cardinals fans, and MLB fans in general for that matter, will want to keep tabs on Arenado’s strikeouts moving forward though. If he isn’t able to start consistently putting the bat on the ball, it could mean something else is wrong.
There’s still hope for Arenado and the Cardinals despite their forgettable starts to the season. However, they need to get things going sooner rather than later.
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