Cardinals: Why Nolan Arenado is frustrated by his 2021 season

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Nolan Arenado #28 of the St. Louis Cardinals in action against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on May 1, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Nolan Arenado #28 of the St. Louis Cardinals in action against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on May 1, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /
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St. Louis Cardinals star Nolan Arenado is frustrated by his 2021 season.

Nolan Arenado has been the St. Louis Cardinals’ best hitter this season, slashing .256/.311/.503 with 32 home runs and 99 RBI, and yet expressed frustration when recently asked about his performance.

Why?

There are goals that Arenado has accomplished, such as hitting 30 home runs and on the doorstep of driving in 100 runs. But there are goals that he hasn’t reached, he said in an interview with MLB.com, which include batting average — and that naturally has been traced to no longer playing at the hitter-friendly Coors Field. That narrative can be put to bed.

“Obviously, you want to hit for average,” Arenado said, later adding that he thinks “this year compared to years past, I’ve done a really bad job using the other side of the field. I’m really pull happy this year. I’m very rotational in my swing. You are not going to hit for average like that.”

Arenado, 30, is not wrong. It’s what made him such an effective player in eight seasons in Colorado and why hitters such as Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera have led Hall of Fame careers. Still, Arenado has been the Cardinals’ best player this season and why they have gone from a playoff afterthought to leading the second National League wild card spot, controlling their own destiny as they vye for a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers or San Francisco Giants.

It’s fair for Arenado, who rightfully holds himself to high standards, to be upset with his season. He slashed only .239/.304/.478 in June. He slashed a mediocre .212/.278/.433 in September. It’s not the standard that he created when he averaged at least .287 in six of eight seasons with the Colorado Rockies while hitting at least 37 home runs in five straight seasons. Despite that, he showed signs of being that level of hitter, prompting manager Mike Shildt to recently predict that a breakout was imminent. He was not wrong, with Arenado hitting .304/.385/.783 with three home runs and eight RBI in the last seven days.

It’s a large reason why the Cardinals have defied the odds and put themselves squarely into the playoff picture. Arenado’s goal has always been to win. He never experienced that with the Rockies. He is finally experiencing that in St. Louis. But on an individual basis, he says he won’t enter the offseason — whenever that may be — feeling like he “accomplished what I wanted to accomplish.”

Next. Cardinals’ Lars Nootbaar just filed for the perfect trademark. dark

Maybe a deep postseason run could change his mind.

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