St. Louis Cardinals: Nolan Arenado has major swing problems

St. Louis Cardinals' Nolan Arenado admitted he has problems with his swing. Baseball Savant shows Arenado has a career-worst year at making hard contact.
Baltimore Orioles v St. Louis Cardinals
Baltimore Orioles v St. Louis Cardinals / Brandon Sloter/GettyImages

In the last two weeks, St. Louis Cardinals fans witnessed a rejuvenated offense that ranked as one of the best in baseball. Paul Goldschmidt, Lars Nootbaar, and even Alec Burleson found success at the plate, an excellent turnaround than before. However, Nolan Arenado has not been able to reciprocate the recent uptick. 

Manager Oliver Marmol wanted Arenado to take “a breather” and dropped the third baseman to fifth in the lineup. After the Cardinals’ 3-1 loss to Cincinnati on Memorial Day, Arenado, who went 0-for-4, offered a chilling quote.

"“It’s bad. The swing is not good, my swing is not good. I’ve been working on it and trying to figure this thing out, but my swing is not good.""

Nolan Arenado

The statistics directly support Arenado’s claim, emphasizing an inability to make contact. According to Baseball Savant, Arenado has the worst HardHit% percentage of his career at 29.1% and the worst Exit Velocity at 85.7%. He has managed to barrel only three balls this year. That accumulates to an almost inexplicable 1.8% barrel percentage.

Let’s also throw out the idea that Arenado is hitting into some bad luck. His wOBA is .295, and his xwOBA is .292. Arenado is not hitting into sublime defenses. He has serious mechanical issues swinging and hitting pitches. MLB’s John Denton stated that Arenado’s broken swing affected his ability to pull pitches to left field, one of Arenado’s best-hitting traits since he came to St. Louis in 2021. 

So why is Arenado having so many mechanical issues as the team heads toward June?

By Arenado’s admission, he always tinkers with his swing. With all of the grinding, we know he does in the batting cage and with Marmol recognizing some batting fatigue, Arenado may need a day to reset, relax, and let the swing mechanics return to him.  

But Arenado also stated this on the record:

"“I haven’t felt like me all year. It’s been a while. I don’t think it’s gone. I still move fast, and I’ve gone through all the numbers -- and the [random] numbers -- and they still tell me I’m moving as fast as I ever have, but there’s a mechanical issue and approach thing. I haven’t been me in the last five months of baseball.”  "

Nolan Arenado

I do not want to overanalyze what Arenado said here, but if he has not been himself lately, is there a nagging injury that causes timing problems?

For the Cardinals to get back into the postseason, the team has to figure out how to help Arenado’s swing mechanics. Arenado’s home run last night was a good first step toward figuring his swing out.