Cards acquire a STAR…not a Superstar

Everyone in Cardinal Land is excited about the acquisition of Nolan Arenado. I am too! It’s great to add a player who is the best on your team. You replace the 25th player on your team with a player who’s #1! Obviously, the entire team is better when you’ve acquired a player better than anyone else on the roster. His fielding is spectacular and provides a threat each at bat. He’s a star in the MLB…..but… not a superstar!
…It’s well known that Coors Field is the best, easiest ball park in the MLB to pile up high batting numbers. This isn’t just me “thinking it’s the easiest”. A national article listed the top 10 easiest hitting parks in the MLB. Coors Field was #1. Couple reasons—1) The ball flies 9% further than at sea level…or to put it this way, a 408 ft fly ball becomes a 440 ft bomb! 2) For the pitchers, the thinner air (due to the altitude) has an important effort on the pitching. In general, the curve balls will have less snap to them while fastball may gain a little more speed due to the decrease in resistance that the thinner air provides. ….In 8 seasons with Coors Field as his home field, Arenado has averaged .322 with 136 HR (19/season). On the road, Arenado’s numbers look like this– .263avg, 99 HR (12/year) Remember, half of the games are at home and half away, so he’s averaged 31 HR/season. Wouldn’t that be great to have our clean-up batter holding those type of numbers?
…..Last year Arenado suffered a shoulder injury so his batting numbers suffered. He batted career lows, as an every-day starter, 8 HR, prorated to 162 games is 24, batting average –career low .253, OPS of .738 lowest since his rookie season. It’s really notable since he had been remarkably consistent for the 6 years prior to last year. Arenado says ‘it feels fine now”…. but …comfort of the shoulder & strength are two totally different things. Further, he hasn’t displayed the sort of power consistency this spring that would quell those thoughts.
…Baseball Reference predicts a .284 average with 28 HR for Arenado in 2021! With the Cardinals complete lack of batting last year, it’d be a welcomed set of numbers. He’d be our star…..but not a superstar by MLB standards. I mention this because Marcel Ozuna was NOT liked …or appreciated by many StL fans in his 2 years….which is very unusual in the Lou. Maybe.. it was due to some horrendous defensive plays early in his time here? Who knows…frankly, that’s why I think he never considered the Lou as a free agent. In 2018, he batted out 23 HR & hit .288. In 2019, it was 29 HR with .241 average. Go back…check the projected Arenado numbers for this year. If all goes as projected, Ozuna’s numbers really weren’t much different!
…When the Cards acquired Paul Goldschmidt 2 years ago, it was a similar situation. Some fans expected more of Goldshmidt who has performed well for the Cards. It was the fans’ preconceived expectations of him that tinted their thoughts. Let’s not do it again with Arenado. He’s good, let’s enjoy his play!!
…As one kicks around the lineup, generally your most powerful slugger bats 4th. Arenado should be there. I personally like the idea of batting Goldschmidt 2nd. His power dipped to 6 HR last year (prorated to full season—16) but he DID lead the team in OB%, slugging & OPS. All the major batting categories. So…he IS getting on base. I’d like him to be on base frequently for the 3rd batter and having Arenado in the 1st inning. At this point, Edman would lead off, Goldschmidt, Carlson in the 3rd hole. Hopefully it’d be sending him a subtle message that we want you on base, big power isn’t required. He should get more “good” pitches since opponents won’t want to face Arenado with men on base. Carlson only walked 8x in 35 games while striking out 35 times so..hopefully.. the 3rd spot would help him improve those numbers. Arenado cleans up (4th) and Tyler O’Neill at 5th to start the season. He’s earned it and he’s a power-type batter-typical #5. Using an ol’ time approach, I’d like someone who gets on base in the 6th spot. Right now, I’d try Justin Williams. He seems to have a “live bat” and is more athletic than some other OF. For decades, the 6th spot was viewed as a 2nd lead off batter …and that’s my reasoning here for Williams. I’d have DeJong 7th & Yadi 8th. DeJong’s power dropped to 3 HR last year (prorated that’s 8 for a full year) but he’d lengthen the lineup at #7. In his career, he’s struck out 446x in 1588 MLB Ab’s (more than ¼ of the time). Maybe lowing him the lineup give him a different approach at the plate. At the #8, Yadi can really handle the bat so he’d seem to fit well in these situations where the other team is trying to “pitch around” him to get to the pitcher. Worried about the pitcher sacrificing when Yadi’s on base? Don’t! Most starting pitchers only get 1 AB in a game any way! Pinch hitters will be in that spot 3 out of 4 of the AB’s.
…Outside of Cardinal Land….there is another superstar from the Lou. How about Bradley Beal? This Chaminade grad leads the NBA in scoring!! His 31.3 mark tops everyone else in the unbelievable, athletic NBA. Beal is in his 9th season in the NBA and has spent his entire career in Washington. Beal shoots 90.2% from the FT line, 33.8% from beyond the 3pt line. Last year Beal dropped in 30.4 ppg so this 30 pt plateau isn’t new to him.
…If any of you know of a star negotiator…please send him/her to handle the MLB-MLBPA negotiations. Shockingly, the 2021 post-season schedule is NOT yet official. The agreement for 2020 was for only 1 year! The union & the owners have not yet reached a new agreement regarding the expanded playoff system of last year. If nothing happens (hard to believe), it would revert back to the 2019 format. Who knows….if talks ever do resume….maybe the NL would bring in a DH THIS year. The season started April 1! And…I used to think that I was late …shopping on Christmas Eve!
…there have been several SUPERSTAR NCAA games in the last week. One that caught my eye…..#11 UCLA knocking off #2 Alabama in OT was really exciting. UCLA took a 3 pt lead with 4 seconds left in regulation—it was the largest difference between the 2 teams for the previous 8 minutes. But, Bama’s Alex Reese drained a long, long 3-pt at the buzzer to send it to OT. But, UCLA went on a roll in OT to nothch the win 88-78. It just wasn’t Bama’s typical night…for the season,they were a 70% FT shooting team and above the 35% mark in 3-pt shooting. On this night, they hot 11 of 25 from the FT line & 7 of 28 from beyond the arc. The beauty of the NCAA…you get ONE chance! The other Elite-8 game that was significant was the easy Gonzaga win over USC. USC’s defense had “hung its hat”on its inside defense. The Most points that USC had given up in the paint all year was 36 points. Gonzaga had 32 in the paint by half!! Drew Timme, Gonzaga’s inside player supplemented by Freshman Jalen Suggs (18 pts, 10 reb, 8 assists) proved to be too much. Gonzaga opened up an early lead…and just seemed to coast throughout with a comfortable lead. Gonzaga is only the 2nd unbeaten team to reach the Final Four since 1991. That other team was Kentucky in 2015..who lost in the semifinals to Wisconsin.
….There have only been 7 unbeaten NCAA championship teams—working backwards– 1976 Indiana (Bob Knight coach- key players—Scott May, Kent Benson, Quinn Buckner; 73 & 72 UCLA –John Wooden & Bill Walton time; 1967 UCLA–Lew Alcindor …know as Kareem Abdul Jabbar later; 1964—UCLA –it was the innovation of 3-1-1 whole court press used by John Wooden; 1956 U of San Francisco— Bill Russell & KC Jones (later played together for Celtics for years) were the key players. They were coached by Phil Woolpert. USF averaged 20 point wins for the season! Offensively they scored 72 ppg while permitting only 52 ppg for their opponents!
…now YOU don’t have to be a STAR…or SUPERSTAR… to send a response to me or to post in on my FB page. Don’t forget to check out earlier blogs (go back over 5 years) on bobryansportsblog.com

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