Cardinals: Nolan Arenado crushing the Coors Field creation conversation

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 30: Nolan Arenado #28 of the St. Louis Cardinals bats against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on July 30, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 30: Nolan Arenado #28 of the St. Louis Cardinals bats against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on July 30, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images) /
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DENVER — For the first eight years of his MLB career, when Nolan Arenado’s offensive exploits were brought up, there was always an asterisk nearby. After all, he played his home games for the Colorado Rockies and the altitude at Denver must have inflated those statistics, right?

Arenado earned five consecutive top 8 finishes in National League Most Valuable Player voting between 2015 and 2019, including twice when he led all MLB hitters in RBI (130 in 2015 and 133 in 2016) and three times when he led all NL batters in home runs (42 in 2015, 41 in 2016, and 38 in 2018). However, he could never push into the upper echelon of the MVP voting, finishing as high as third in 2018 as he helped the Rockies advance to the NLDS.

That, however, is all ancient history for Arenado, who is now in his second season with the St. Louis Cardinals and putting together another impressive season. Heading into Wednesday’s game in Colorado, Arenado was slashing .300/.369/.550 with 22 home runs and 69 RBI. His 5.9 bWAR was the highest for any NL position player, and second in MLB only to Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees (6.7).

Nolan Arenado talks about his season with the St. Louis Cardinals and losing the Coors Field stigma that came with the Colorado Rockies

Talking to reporters while making his return to Coors Field, Arenado discussed the shadow that Coors Field cast upon him as well as those who don the Rockies uniform.

“At times, I definitely wanted to prove people wrong, There’s a sense of pride when you want to prove people wrong,” Arenado said. “I guess I just got over it because I know who I am as a player. I know who DJ (LeMahieu, once Arenado’s teammate in Colorado and now with the New York Yankees, where he won the American League batting title in 2020, hitting .364 to lead all MLB hitters while putting together an AL-leading 178 OPS+) thinks he is as a player.”

And Arenado is proving that thought right this season. Sure, Arenado’s home/road career splits are skewed toward success at home (.310/.366/.587 slash line in home games versus .267/.327/.485 on the road), but any advantage that might be gained at Coors Field has also been shown to have as much of a negative effect when it comes to traveling from mile high altitude to lower elevation (check this Twitter thread for an explanation).

It’s been an issue for players from Hall of Famer Larry Walker all the way to Trevor Story, now with the Boston Red Sox. However, Arenado hopes that the more that players succeed in their time after playing in Denver will start to lessen the stigma that comes along with playing at Coors Field.

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“It’s a real disservice to the players who play here,” Arenado said about the Coors Field conversation. “I think if you’re playing well here (Denver), you play well anywhere. That’s always been my thought.”