Nolan Arenado's numbers took a plunge last year, especially on the defensive side. At the plate, Arenado showed what was likely an age-related decline, as he hit .266 with 26 home runs, his lowest output in his three years with the Cardinals. In the field, Arenado did not approach the levels fans are accustomed to seeing from possibly the greatest defensive third baseman of all time.
Arenado was 11 runs below average at third base in 2023, by far the worst numbers of his career. But there's reason for optimism in 2024 after news emerged that Arenado's back had been bothering him all season, which could explain his drastic defensive downfall.
Arenado's offense may never return to the form he showed with the Colorado Rockies, but if he can still provide above-average results in the batter's box while rediscovering his otherworldly defensive skills, he will again be one of the most valuable assets to the Cardinals.
A pedestrian 4.42 ERA and a high opposing hard-hit percentage of 46.2% marked a down season for Giovanny Gallegos, as the normally sturdy bridge to Ryan Helsley swayed more than usual in 2023. There were concerns that Gallegos, a notoriously slow worker, would have trouble adapting to the newly instituted pitch clock, but it turned out not to be a problem.
An explanation for Gallegos' struggles could be that he was tipping his pitches. If Gallegos has remedied this with the help of his team, he could easily get back to being one of the premier setup men in baseball. His age could start to become a bit of a concern, but since Gallegos relies more on location than velocity, the 32-year-old will likely age more gracefully than most of his bullpen cohorts.
With his exceptional chase and whiff rates still intact in his subpar 2023, Gallegos should be a prime bounce-back candidate in 2024 as the Cardinals look to get back into playoff contention.