4 perplexing mysteries that the Cardinals must unravel

The St. Louis Cardinals have to figure out the solutions to these head-scratchers if they want to succeed in 2024 and beyond.
St. Louis Cardinals v Miami Marlins
St. Louis Cardinals v Miami Marlins / Rich Storry/GettyImages
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Nolan Arenado's defensive degradation

For 10 years, Nolan Arenado was the epitome of perfection at the hot corner, winning a Gold Glove every year in his first decade in the major leagues. For his career, he has 149 defensive runs saved. But in 2023, Arenado's defense cratered, decreasing from an elite 19 defensive runs saved in 2022 to only one in 2023.

Arenado mentioned last season that his back had been bothering him throughout the year, and many people understandably assumed that his back injury was the cause of his defensive collapse. But in 2024, Arenado's fielding has continued to slide, and he is now seven runs below average at third base.

At 33 years old, Arenado should still be a strong defender, even if not at his peak levels. This fall-off is extreme, and it's possible that Arenado is still concealing an injury. That could also partially explain his hitting woes, as he is hitting .257 with only five home runs and a career-low ISO of .115.

Masyn Winn has also come under scrutiny for his 10 errors, tied with Oneil Cruz for second among shortstops behind Elly de la Cruz, but some of that can be misleading, as Winn is able to get to more balls and make chances out of more plays than most other players.

Arenado's contract with the Cardinals runs through 2027, and if the aging cliff has arrived sooner than anticipated and he continues to slip in the field, he may be an expensive obstacle that the Cardinals will have to work around.