Larry Walker will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday. This reminds me of Nolan Arenado.
Walker did not cross the 75% threshold and was selected to Cooperstown until his 10th and final vote. He said he hopes his election will open the door to other Rocky Mountain players. Specifically, he was talking about Todd Helton and the shame of playing at Coors Field.
“The year I won the MVP (1997), I think it was also a good thing for the Colorado Rockies players and eliminated the confusion and negative effects of playing there,” Walker told me last November. “I hope this will be useful to Todd. Obviously, he is well worthy of being inducted into the Hall of Fame.”
But what about Arenado? Third basemen now wear Cardinals instead of Colorado purple. However, for some people, Coulsfield will always tarnish his resume.
However, when I asked Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt about Arenado two years ago, Arenado’s one-mile-high stats would certainly not bother him.
“There is no doubt that Nolan is the best third baseman in baseball, both defensively and offensively, and has been for several years,” Schmidt said. “If his success continues at the current rate for another 10 years, he will join us in Cooperstown. I hope I can listen to his speech there.”
Of course, Schmidt set the gold standard for third basemen. He has been selected to the All-Star 12 times and won 10 Golden Glove Awards and 6 Silver Rod Awards. He was named the MVP of the National League in 1980, 1981 and 1986. His Phillies won the World Series in 1980 and he is the MVP. He ended his 18-year career with 548 home runs, 0.908 OPS and 106.8 WAR.
The 30-year-old Arenado will never be able to compare with these achievements, even if he ended up hitting 39 years old like Schmidt. Despite this, Arenado’s statistics are still impressive: 264 home runs, 0.882 OPS, 43.8 WAR and eight consecutive Golden Gloves. He was selected to the All-Star six times and won the Silver Slugger championship four times.
Arenado’s gloves are considered the best and most gorgeous gloves ever. Social media and ubiquitous video replays strengthened his argument in the Hall of Fame, allowing his “I can’t believe he did it” moments to be seen by baseball fans from the East Coast to the West Coast.
Nevertheless, I still want to know how Arenado will perform in his first season after leaving Colorado. In general, he played well in St. Louis, but not very well.
His batting rate dropped sharply-in eight seasons in Colorado, his average batting rate was 0.257, compared to 0.293. His current OPS with the Cardinals is 0.817, which is much lower than his 0.882 OPS in the Rockies.
Despite this, Arenado hit 29 homers and 32 RBIs. He has 88 RBI and 105 RBI. In addition, he performed well at critical moments. His runner shooting percentage in the scoring position was 0.336, which exceeded his career’s 0.325. With two outs and base runners in the scoring position, his shooting percentage was 0.333, which was higher than his career average of 0.316.
In addition, the ups and downs of the Cardinals are making late-season efforts for the second National League wild card, and Arenado has always been an important part of it. The chance of playing playoff baseball was the main reason Arenado was forced to leave Colorado. If you have watched any Cardinals games recently, you can’t help but see the passion and intensity of Arenado.
My bottom line: Coors Field or no Coors Field, I bet Schmidt will hear Arenado’s speech in Cooperstown. Although Arenado’s stats will not be as gorgeous as in Colorado, winning with the Cardinals will improve his reputation.
This begs the question: Will Arenado enter as Loki or the Cardinal? This is an argument for a later date.