We are counting down the days until the Chicago Cubs take on the St Louis Cardinals in the historic, first-ever NL game played in Europe.
Goldschmidt, who spent the bulk of his career in Arizona, has always seemed underrated. He is far less appreciated than if he were the first baseman for New York, Boston, or Los Angeles. In 2022, the 35-year-old finally won the NL MVP following his extraordinary 177 OPS+ season (77% better than league average). I think he is still underappreciated.
Surprisingly, thanks in part to his elite defensive skills, Nolan Arenado was better than Goldschmidt last year, according to bWAR.
Like Goldschmidt, Arenado spent the earlier part of his career in a low-profile market, Colorado. And also like Goldschmidt, if Arenado were the third baseman for the Yankees, Mets, Dodgers, or Red Sox, then he would probably be a household name.
However, until the 32-year-old wins an MVP Award, he will always be considered inferior to lots of the higher-profile names.
HOW GOOD IS ARENADO?
There is a discussion to be had that Arenado is even better than the most savvy baseball fans think.
- Maybe the best player we will ever see in a London Series
- Maybe the best player of the last 12 years
- Maybe the best third baseman of all time
Taken in the second round of the 2009 draft, Arenado made this debut for the Rockies in 2013. Since that time, he has led all players in RBI production. In fact, Arenado is the only player with more than 1,000 RBI since the start of 2013.
|RBI PRODUCERS (2013-2023)||RBI|
It’s true that RBI totals do not give a true reflection of ability; you need players on base ahead of you to give RBI opportunities. So, how about hits – not slapped singles, but extra-base hits – the unambiguous measurement of a power hitter?
|EXTRA-BASE HITS (2013-2023)||XBH|
When it comes to home runs, Arenado is one of only three sluggers to hit more than 300 dingers since 2013.
|HOME RUNS (2013-2023)||HR|
With 830 runs, Arenado is the 10th-highest run scorer since 2013, and has 25 stolen bases and 480 walks. He is an all-round box-score filler.
Whether the best hitter since 2013 is Arenado or Goldschmidt or Trout or Freeman is down to your own personal interpretation of the skills and production, but without a doubt, Arenado is an elite hitter.
DEFENCE: THE DIFFERENCE MAKER
Of the 10 names listed above, only Arenado was awarded a Gold Glove for his defensive excellence in 2022. This was Arenado’s 10th consecutive Gold Glove.
He won the Gold Glove for NL third base in his debut season in 2013 and every single year since. That is simply an incredible achievement.
|YEAR||THIRD BASE GOLD GLOVE WINNER|
Given the talent that we have seen at the hot corner over the last 10-11 years, it is almost incomprehensible that one player can dominate so convincingly.
Gold Gloves, like all voting awards, are a little unreliable, so let’s look at Baseball Savant. It only has stats from 2016 to 2023, but the Outs Above Average metric for third base is pretty conclusive in Arenado’s favour.
The Platinum Glove winner’s table also looks lopsided. All Gold Glove recipients qualify for Platinum Glove eligibility with a single annual award.
When you combine one of the most potent bats of the last 10 or so years with the game’s most elite defensive ability, then it’s easy to argue that Nolan Arenado is the best player we will ever see in a London Series game.
DISCLAIMER: The first London Series was between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, headlined by Aaron Judge and Mookie Betts. Next season’s matchup features the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies, which should star Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor, and Bryce Harper. Unless Mets owner, Steve Cohen can sign Mike Trout or Shohei Ohtani, then Arenado’s title is safe.
Whether or not he is the best third baseman of all time is another discussion for another time.
Featured image of Nolan Arenado by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images
The London Series 2023 will feature the first-ever NL games in Europe when the Chicago Cubs take on the St Louis Cardinals on Saturday 24 June and Sunday 25 June. Check out the Ticketmaster website with tickets starting from £59.00 – make sure you are following @Batflips_nerds for all your London Series content.