The most immediately notable thing about the St. Louis Cardinals' 9-6 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday is that a brawl almost broke out between the two NL Central rivals. In line somewhere behind the final outcome and those tantalizing hostilities is the fact that Nolan Arenado also hit his first home run as a Cardinal.
Here's a look at the relevant action sports color television footage:
That's a 395-foot homer that left the bat at 105 mph, all at the expense of a Sal Romano sinker that didn't sink quite enough. Yes, the Cardinals suffered the loss, in large measure because starter Adam Wainwright permitted six runs in 2 2/3 innings, but Arenado is off and running with St. Louis in 2021. He has gone 2 for 5 in both games thus far. While he had two meekly hit singles in the opener, he has now flashed the power that helped him win three NL home run crowns.
The Cardinals acquired Arenado from the Colorado Rockies this past offseason in exchange for a quite underwhelming return package. It's almost assured he's going to continue being an elite fielder at third base for some time, but there were some questions about the bat. Those questions, however, didn't really flow from the Coors Field effect. Arenado's park-adjusted statistics with the bat have been quite strong. As well, it's never as simple as looking at the road stats of a Rockies hitter because playing in Coors exacts a price in games played closer to sea level. Look no further than DJ LeMahieu, whose offensive performance has actually improved away from Coors Field. Getting out of Coors means a hitter will probably see his home numbers decline, but at the same time his road performance will probably improve because there's no more "hangover effect" from seeing pitches at a mile above sea level.
If there's any concern for Arenado as he moves into his thirties, it's his slight decline in batted-ball prowess over the last couple of seasons (granted, a shoulder injury had much to do with last year's disappointing performance). Thus far in 2021, though, those are concerns are nowhere to be found.