St. Louis Cardinals: Nolan Arenado to start at third base in ASG

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DENVER, CO - JULY 1: Nolan Arenado #28 of the St. Louis Cardinals bats during the fifth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on July 1, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - JULY 1: Nolan Arenado #28 of the St. Louis Cardinals bats during the fifth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on July 1, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) /
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St. Louis Cardinals star third baseman Nolan Arenado will be returning to Coors Field in a couple of weeks as the NL’s starting third baseman.

When the St. Louis Cardinals acquired Nolan Arenado, they expected him to take the organization to a new level. That has not exactly been the case, with the team sitting in fourth place in the National League Central and nine games behind the surging Milwaukee Brewers.

But that has not been because of Arenado. The 30-year-old has been brilliant for the Cardinals, hitting .263/.316/.507 with 16 home runs and 52 RBI, with his 130 OPS+ ranking above his career average of 121. It’s why he was selected to participate and start at third base in the All-Star Game at Coors Field, which, of course, is where he called home for the first eight seasons of his career.

It’s a deserving honor for Arenado, with it being his sixth career All-Star Game appearance. It also underscores just how lucky the Cardinals are to have acquired him, let alone for such a small package in return, with the best player of the bunch being pitcher Austin Gomber, who has seen time with the Rockies major-league team.

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While it hasn’t happened yet, the Cardinals should feel Arenado’s presence even more as the season goes on and the stakes get higher. After all, it’s why they acquired him. He is capable of carrying a team when he gets hot — and paired with an offense that has to get better in the second half of the season — should help them close the gap on the Brewers.

Arenado, too, will likely be even better in the last 81 games. He told Stephanie Apstein of Sports Illustrated that getting used to the Cardinal Way took time. Now, he says, he takes notes on how Yadier Molina, Paul Goldschmidt and others go about their business. “We’ve literally won games because of those things,” he said. “They’ve brainwashed me. They’ve conformed me.”

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Because of it, Arenado is once again headed to the All-Star game. It should also have the Cardinals optimistic of what’s to come — in the second half of 2021 and years to come.

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