Batman has Robin. Tom has Jerry. McCartney had Lennon and Goldie had Arenado.
Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado may have arrived in St. Louis two seasons apart, but they quickly became linked as a dynamic duo manning two corners of the Cardinals’ infield. Both have won multiple Golden Glove and Silver Slugger awards, and this season they were able to accomplish the rare feat of becoming the first teammates to finish 1-2 in MVP voting since Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent 22 years ago.
“When you’re in the present moment, you try not to sit back, but there are times when I’m at home and I realize it’s pretty fun, what we’re doing,” Arenado said recently. “Our 3-4 hole is good and we play good defense.”
The couple has been more than good this season. They rank first and second in the National League in slugging and have combined 65 home runs and 224 hits, almost a third of St. Louis’ total runs this season. Goldschmidt leads the NL in OPS+ and total bases; Arenado hit just 71 times, by far the fewest in baseball with 30 or more home runs.
“It’s nice to know that when I was struggling,” Goldschmidt said, “he’ll come next and do his job, or vice versa.”
Goldschmidt, who came to St. Louis ahead of the 2019 season, made his first name with the Arizona Diamondbacks; Arenado, a Colorado Rockies star, moved into the 2020 offseason.
Both landed in St. Louis after their previous teams endured turnover and turmoil. While they may be in the spotlight more than before, they can now depend on each other – and each deeply understands what the other is going through.
“He moved here very easily,” Arenado said of Goldschmidt. “He did the most for me when I felt bad last year… I couldn’t repeat [my swing]. And I told him that it’s very frustrating because I get fields where I can do damage. … He told me that he had gone through the same thing as me just a year before. He told me how to fix it.”
Goldschmidt added: “We talk about punches all the time. We talk about our shots, our approach, what other teams are doing. He helped me a lot, even last year.”
While their games are similar and this has increased their ability to help each other through the season, their personalities are not exactly the same.
“He’s definitely a good cop, and I’m definitely a bad cop,” Arenado said with a laugh. “I always joke that he is an angel on his shoulder. I’m more like the devil on the other side because I’m more angry than he is. He is more calm and patient.
“In a way, I’m a little crazy. That’s why we get along pretty well.”
Giving an evasive smile at their assessment of their personalities, in true “good cop” fashion, Goldschmidt turned the conversation back to their game on the pitch, where he’s more concerned with maintaining Arenado’s Golden Gloves streak and making sure he doesn’t “screw up” when his the third baseman plays great. Arenado won the award every year he was in the league, nine times or more.
Shortly after praising his teammate in a mid-September game against the Cincinnati Reds, Goldschmidt received a low throw from Arenado to end a tough game. This was followed by a nod of approval across the diamond from an All-Star third baseman to his All-Star first baseman.
“He saved me from a big mistake,” Arenado said with a laugh.
As the No. 3 forward on the St. Louis roster, Goldschmidt’s forwards also give Arenado a chance to see what’s on the plate when he enters the game as a Cardinals forward.
“Watching pitchers pitch it, sometimes I realize what’s going to happen to me,” Arenado said. “We are both right-handed, so we get attacked a lot. Obviously we are not the same player, but we have similar traits.”
Before they became close teammates in St. Louis, Arenado and Goldschmidt actually got to know each other for the first time while playing for Team USA in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, after admiring each other from afar like other NL West stars. .
“I remember getting his number and texting him about how he was doing things,” Arenado recalled of their days in the same division. “I respected the way he carried himself. I wanted to know what the secret is.
“We speak the same language.”
And the similarities don’t end there. Both players moved to the teams when they were at their peak and now have big contracts: Goldschmidt has $130 million, Arenado has $275 million. In fact, Arenado’s deal is voidable after this season, and while he hasn’t publicly said he’s staying in St. Louis, most won’t bet against it.
“I feel like I fit in here and feel welcome here,” Arenado said.
For now, the focus will not be on Arenado’s impending contract status or the MVP battle, which will be a first for either player, but on the games remaining on the schedule and the postseason that has yet to take place. Arenado and Goldschmidt are both looking to play in mid-October as the Cardinals won the NL Central on Tuesday night by beating the Brewers. But it’s impossible to ignore the fact that Goldschmidt and Arenado are two names baseball fans will hear a lot when it comes to this awards season.
“It was amazing,” Arenado said. “We win ball games, but it’s nice that we both play well. Last year, when he played well, I played poorly. Or if he played badly, I played well. It was like “one day we’ll make a hit together”.
“It’s been so much fun doing it together this year.”