Most Valuable Player Award: Nolan Arenado
While Goldschmidt has put up the best offensive numbers for the Cardinals this season, Nolan Arenado’s combination of hitting and fielding can’t be overstated. He plays one of the most important positions defensively, and he continues to be elite. While Goldschmidt has historically been an outstanding defender, his performance at first base has actually been below average this year.
Arenado’s walk-to-strikeout ratio is the best it has ever been in his career, not counting the abridged 2020 season. If we get deep into advanced stats, we can see his Weighted Runs Created Plus is a career-best 153, with 100 as the average.
The more widely known stats aren’t bad either: A batting average of .293 is his best since his penultimate season in Colorado in 2019, as is his .363 OBP, which is aided by the aforementioned career-best K/BB rate. This has been one of Arenado’s best years, and while Goldschmidt’s stats sparkle and shine to the casual observer, Arenado is the one over whom the sabermetricians will go gaga.
Goldschmidt, Mikolas and Arenado are the players seeing the most success for the Cardinals, but that’s not to take away from other high-performing players, such as Ryan Helsley, Tommy Edman and Adam Wainwright. The Cardinals have a shot to win it all in a year dominated by the farewell tours of Yadier Molina and Albert Pujols, and provided these three players remain healthy, I won’t count them out.