Rival All Star thinks Cardinals cornerstones are underrated

ESPN's annual ranking of the best players in baseball placed Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado out of the top 40 players. Matt Olson disagrees with those placements.

St. Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves
St. Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

Each year, ESPN releases its annual ranking of the current top 100 players in baseball. Lists like these will always generate debates, particularly among fanbases. However, it is rare for a player to comment on the placement of players on rival teams.

Matt Olson of the Atlanta Braves spoke on the low rankings of two cornerstone players for the St. Louis Cardinals: Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado. The two All-Stars were ranked 47th and 44th respectively on ESPN's list; Olson believes that those rankings are unfair given the track record of both players.

"I know there's always recency bias, but I'm a little more swayed by the guys who have been there and done it for a while ... Mike Trout at 19. That's ridiculous. Nolan Arenado at No. 44? Goldschmidt at 47? That's pretty wild."

Matt Olson

For a rival player to speak out in support of Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado speaks volumes about the respect these two veterans of the game have garnered in their careers. While the 2023 season showed a dip in the overall output of both players, the two All-Stars have track records that are greater than those of several players ranked above them.

Nolan Arenado had his worst season on both sides of the ball since his rookie year in 2023. His 107 wRC+ was a career low, and his .266/.315/.459 slash line left quite a bit to be desired. Defensively, Arenado had a challenging first half of the season. By the end of the year, he accumulated only 5 Outs Above Average, hands down the lowest of his career. Arenado's 2.6 fWAR last year was tied for 4th with Jordan Montgomery on the team last year. Arenado is looking to set a different tone for the 2024 season for both himself and the team.

Paul Goldschmidt came back down to earth after a scorching 2022 season. Goldy's defense at first base remained steady, though the eye test provides a better story than the defensive metrics do. Offensively, Goldschmidt's 122 wRC+ was the third-worst of his career trailing only his rookie season and his first season with the Cardinals in 2019. Goldschmidt finished the year with a .268/.363/.447 slash line. Goldy accumulated 3.7 fWAR on the year, a modest total for the right-handed stalwart.

Matt Olson isn't saying these two players belong at the top of the list each year due to their resumes, but he does feel like Goldschmidt and Arenado plus Mike Trout (#19 on ESPN's list) deserve more respect for what they've proven year after year in the league.