St. Louis Cardinals 2021 MLB odds: Nolan Arenado improves Cardinals by 2 wins, increases NL Central chances 8 percent via SportsLine Projection Model

The SportsLine Projection Model simulates that Nolan Arenado certainly will improve the 2021 St. Louis Cardinals once his trade is finalized as early as today, but perhaps not as much as Cards fans might hope.
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Nolan Arenado has been a perennial National League MVP candidate for the Colorado Rockies since the 2015 season and is one of the best defenders at the hot corner in MLB history. He's well on his way to the Hall of Fame someday. Arenado also is on his way to the St. Louis Cardinals once the trade is finalized through the MLB office and players' union – perhaps later Monday. The SportsLine Projection Model certainly has Arenado improving the Cardinals in 2021 but not massively so.

Arenado had a down 2020 season, but it was unusual for everyone with COVID and it shortened to 60 regular-season games. There was also the fact that Arenado didn't want to be in Colorado any longer after it was clear they were shopping him. Arenado did win his eighth straight Gold Glove Award last year, tying Scott Rolen for third-most all-time among third baseman.

Arenado's streak of eight straight Gold Gloves is the second-longest streak to begin a career in MLB history trailing only Ichiro Suzuki (10 straight). Arenado is one of just four players to have at least 30 defensive runs saved at a single position over the past two seasons.

At the plate, Arenado hit at least 37 homers each year from 2015-19, knocked in a minimum of 110 runs in each season and ranked third behind Mike Trout and Mookie Betts in Wins Above Replacement among position players. Arenado is a five-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger winner, four-time Platinum Glove winner, three-time NL home run champion and two-time NL RBI leader.

The Rockies are in full-blown rebuild mode and wanted to be rid of the $199 million on his six-year contract. The deal is done but because of some financials, contract amendments, etc., it must be approved Major League Baseball and MLB Players' Association.

William Hill Sportsbook lists the Cardinals at +2500 to win the World Series, +1500 for the NL pennant and +180 favorites for the NL Central – the other teams in the Central all appear to have taken big steps back this season (especially the defending champion Cubs) because they are all trying to save money.

The book doesn't have NL MVP odds up yet, but Arenado certainly will be among the top five favorites or so. The last Cardinals player to win the NL MVP was Albert Pujols in 2009. That was his age-29 season. Arenado is 29 now (30 in mid-April).

Again, assuming it's a 162-game regular season (owners are trying to shorten it to 154 but the MLBPA isn't agreeing to that as of now), the SportsLine Projection Model (see below) has the Cardinals increasing by two wins from 86.2 to 88.2 with Arenado (his WAR in 2019 was 5.7). Their chance of winning the division goes from 36.1 percent to 44.3 percent. From a betting standpoint on a moneyline, a 44 percent chance would equate to a price of +125 or so. William Hill's +180 NL Central price equals 35.7 percent. 

On reason the model isn't improving the Cardinals perhaps more with Arenado is that he was a much better hitter in the thin air of Denver (.322, 136 HR in 543 games) than on the road (.263, 99 HR in 536 games) over his career. St. Louis is scheduled to open the season April 1 in Cincinnati, but that's far from a sure thing. The Cards are set to visit Colorado on July 4th weekend. 

ST. LOUIS        WIN    WIN%      DIVISION    PLAYOFF    LCS        WS
Before 86.2 53.20% 36.10% 79.60% 7.50% 3.50%
w/ Arenado 88.2 54.40% 44.30% 85.60% 8.90% 4.20%
IMPACT 2 1.20% 8.20% 6.00% 1.40% 0.70%

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SportsLine Staff
SportsLine Staff