Don’t Draft List: Now In St. Louis, Is Nolan Arenado A Name To Avoid?

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There has long been concerns about Nolan Arenado and his home/road splits, especially as rumors grew regarding a potential trade away from Coors Field. However with that finally becoming a reality, you have to wonder exactly what will happen. Will he be able to produce at an elite level in St. Louis or should he land squarely on “Don’t Draft” lists?

The first thing to do is to look at the actual split in his production over the course of his career:

SplitABAVGOBPSLGHR
Home2,080.322.376.609136
Road2,038.263.322.47199

Obviously his production away from Coors Field hasn’t been terrible, but it also isn’t nearly elite levels. He has averaged 1 HR every 22.78 PA away from Coors Field over the course of his career. You project that over a 650 PA season and you get roughly 29 HR.

That may not be enough of a red flag, but when you start looking at his Exit Velocities the concern only grows:

  • 2016 – 89.5
  • 2017 – 88.8
  • 2018 – 89.9
  • 2019 – 89.4
  • 2020 – 87.8

While we want to write off the 2020 mark, we also can’t ignore it. Let’s not forget that he hit just .227 with 1 HR on the road last year, while also managing just a .271 AVG with 7 HR at Coors.

He should be better that that, but by how much? While his average home run traveled 406 feet in 2019 (tied for 29th in the league), how much of that was aided by the thin air of Coors Field?

If the power does regress into the 28-32 HR range, how much will that impact his AVG? He no longer will have the vast expanse of Coors Field at his disposal, meaning his BABIP could regress from his career .299 mark (he was at .241 in ’20). Considering a 37.1% career Hard%, that wouldn’t be a complete surprise.

Does all this mean that Arenado will hold no value in 2021? Obviously not, but you also have to wonder if he’ll be worth spending a second or third round pick on. Just consider

  • You can select players like Anthony Rendon or Rafael Devers one round later
  • How about Eugenio Suarez nearly 50 picks later
  • What if you wanted to “gamble” on Alex Bohm, with his Average ADP of 103.32
  • Matt Chapman and his 114.07 Average ADP looks incredibly appealing now, doesn’t it

While there are definite concerns about Arenado and his production, the bigger reason to avoid him is simply the cost. There are far too many options with the potential to outproduce Arenado available much later. Use the early round pick to on another need and pass on Arenado, especially now that he’s out of Coors Field.

Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Savant, NFBC

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