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Opinion | Please don't sleep on Nolan Arenado's defense

Stop looking at Arenado's age, and focus instead on what he's accomplished by his age
Credit: AP
FILE - In this Sept. 11, 2020, file photo, Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado throws to first during the first inning of the team's baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels in Denver. Arenado won his eighth consecutive Gold Glove on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

ST. LOUIS — Since the St. Louis Cardinals intend to do nothing to improve the 2021 team, I will stick my head in the clouds for a moment. It's free of charge and hurts no one, so here we go.

Cardinals fans are largely under-appreciating Nolan Arenado, who spends more time on the hot stove than he can possibly spend on a baseball field. What fans see is a guy who is turning 30 who has put together aided by a hitter's park in Colorado.

Here's the thing. People are sleeping big time on Arenado's defense. Who else in the game has won eight straight Gold Gloves? I bet they reside in the Hall of Fame. Former Cardinal and current HOF nominee Scott Rolen won eight total in a 17 year career. Fans forget that before he could hit for power and OPS, Arenado was a defensive wizard. He's won a gold glove in every year for which he's been in the league. Look back at his first in 2013, when he hit just ten home runs and compiled an OPS of .706.

Fact: Arenado has saved the Rockies 120 runs during his career, according to Fangraphs. His UZR/150 (Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 defensive games) was 15.5 last season. That's very good. Imagine Arenado slinging balls over to Paul Goldschmidt at first base.

You don't have to imagine what he can do in the lineup. Arenado would be the ideal No. 3 hitter, because he can do it all. In six different seasons, he has collected at least 30 doubles. In five seasons, at least 37 home runs were hit. The most strikeouts for a season is 122, but Arenado can easily draw 60 walks.

Fact: Arenado slugs .519 versus righties and .602 against lefties. Matchup that, NL Central. 

But what about the million dollar question? His stats away from Coors Field.

Arenado's .793 OPS vs. .985 at Coors is what scares people away from the big contract. Last time I checked, a near .800 OPS and perennial gold glove collector wasn't a bad thing to have around. The Cardinals currently stand with a payroll of $113 million, but don't get your hopes up that they will seriously consider Arenado.

This column is only for informative fun and making sure Cardinal Nation realizes how all-around great the Colorado Rockies third baseman is. They shout for Rolen to be included in the Hall, but pass up the virtues of Arenado that sit right there in comparison.

Here's the deal. The Cardinals won't acquire him, but they need to find a stud like Arenado. That's what they need.

Along with the Dylan Carlsons and Jack Flahertys of the world, St. Louis needs a true lineup-stabilizing presence like this most likely unhappy player. No, I don't think Arenado will opt out of his big contract (running through 2026) after a pandemic and before a new labor agreement. Find sense in that, please. What he has now will probably be his final big contract jam.

He gives you a big name, golden defense, a lethal bat, and most of all, Arenado gives you a big chance to compete with the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, and San Diego Padres. Arenado is EXACTLY what the Cardinals need to ward off those teams, and it includes his defense AND offense.

Instead of focusing on his age (he turns 30 in April), remember what he has accomplished by 29: five All Star game berths, eight Gold Gloves, four Silver Slugger awards, and four Platinum Glove awards.

The goal here was to inform you that some fans are sleeping on Arenado's star-spangled awesome defense almost as much as the team is sleeping on roster improvements.

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