Cardinals' Nolan Arenado may be underperforming due to lingering injury

Nolan Arenado's season has been extremely disappointing. However, his underperformance may be injury-related rather than due to regression.
St. Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs
St. Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

After an extremely disappointing 2023 season for the MVP candidate and Cardinals cornerstone third baseman, Nolan Arenado was determined to have a bounce-back season in 2024. However, 2024 has been even worse for Arenado as he's seen an even steeper decline both offensively and defensively. This led fans to wonder if Arenado's best days were behind him after weeks of watching their prized infielder take awkward swings on pitches he used to crush.

In recent weeks, Arenado has been banged up. He took a pitch to the elbow in Miami, and though he avoided an injured list stint, he was clearly not playing at 100% following that. Then, in the series against the Giants, he felt forearm pain after a check swing. After being removed from that game, Arenado has yet to play in a game since despite not going to the IL. He's in tonight's lineup batting sixth, but he revealed to John Denton that he hasn't felt right for a few weeks.

Arenado has still been hitting for a decent average, but his power output has completely vanished in 2024. His .371 slugging percentage has by far been the worst of his career, even worse than his rookie season in 2013 where he hit just 10 home runs. He's noted not feeling quite right, and while concerns with age regression are very real for him, it seems a bit early for him to completely taper off at just 33 years old.

Whether forearm tendinitis is to blame for his struggles this year, something mental, or a lingering back injury that landed him on the injured list at the end of last season, it may be best for Nolan Arenado to take a trip to the injured list to reset and fully recover. If he can regain even a fraction of his 2022 self that finished 3rd in MVP voting, the Cardinals will gain a superstar-level bat to their already potent lineup carried by its young talent.

This news is frustrating from an injury standpoint, as the Cardinals have not been the best at handling communication regarding hurt players this season, most notably Tommy Edman and now Arenado. However, it's good to know that the version of Arenado we saw throughout the first half might not be the player he'll continue to be from now on. Hopefully, Arenado can recover from whatever ailment he's going through right now and return to form.