No. 300! Arenado joins milestone homer club

Star third baseman busts out of power slump, becomes 8th player to reach 300 HRs and 10 Gold Gloves

April 9th, 2023

MILWAUKEE -- When Cardinals superstar third baseman hit the 250th home run of his career back in June 2021, he was unable to get the keepsake baseball to present to his parents because he was unwilling to pay the $10,000 a fan was asking for.

Back then, teammate discouraged him from paying for the baseball because he felt his close friend would soon eclipse 300 home runs for his career, and the milestone would be even more significant.

Stuck on 299 home runs over the final six games of last season and the first seven of the 2023 season, Arenado finally connected for No. 300 after drilling an Eric Lauer pitch and hitting the ball into the left-seats in a 6-0 win over the Brewers at American Family Field on Saturday night. Much to Arenado’s delight, the fan who caught the home run ball gave it to the Cardinals and wanted nothing in return. However, loads of autographed merchandise will soon be delivered to that fan, Arenado promised after the game.

“I don’t know who the fan is, but he was really great about giving it to me and he didn’t ask for anything,” said Arenado, who got dunked into a laundry cart after the game and wheeled into the shower so that teammates could dump celebratory protein shakes and yogurt all over him. “He’s a lot cooler than the [fan who caught] 250. I don’t like that guy at all, but this guy was great.”

Arenado, who will turn 32 next week after making his Major League debut nearly 10 years ago, became the eighth active MLB player to reach 300 home runs, a group that also includes Goldschmidt (316). In addition, Arenado became the eighth player in MLB history to hit at least 300 homers and have at least 10 Gold Glove Awards, joining Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr., Mike Schmidt, Al Kaline, Johnny Bench, Ivan Rodriguez and Andruw Jones.

Arenado came into Saturday 10-for-30 on the season, but he had not clubbed an extra-base hit since drilling a go-ahead double in the eighth inning on Opening Day against the Blue Jays. Also, his average exit velocity had dipped to 86.1 mph before Saturday, causing him to go to Cardinals hitting coach Turner Ward to search for ways to cure what was ailing his swing.

As it turns out, Arenado was a lot more worried about his swing than coaches and players who marvel at the temperature with which the star’s fiery intensity burns.  

“It's hard to be more competitive than this guy,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “It's cliché to say, ‘Oh, this guy eats, sleeps and breathes baseball.’ No, literally, that is all he cares about. He loves his family and then he loves baseball, and he doesn’t care about anything else."

“When I was asked earlier today, as far as his frustration that he showed on the field [in Friday’s 4-0 loss], this guy knows he's extremely good and what he should do against some of these pitches,” Marmol added. “And when he doesn't do it, he takes it extremely hard. He'll come in the next day as if he’s trying to win a job and he'll just get after it. So, it's always good to see him get rewarded. It’s hard to compete with his mentality. It’s elite.”

Arenado’s obsession with hitting is legendary within the Cardinals' circles. Often, he takes a bat with him back to the hotel so that he can swing while watching himself in the mirror. He said his fiery personality and obsession with putting the perfect swing on a baseball sometimes works to his detriment.

“I probably let it get too far, for sure,” Arenado said of his hitting obsession. “There is this feeling that I’m trying to find, and I feel like I’m getting closer to that. It’s just about trying to find it more consistently, and it’s frustrating when you don’t find it. It’s a long season and I’m just trying to battle it. I know there’s a good feeling there and hopefully it comes soon, but today was a great start.”

Arenado nearly reached his 300th home run in Saturday’s first inning with a drive down the left-field line that curved just before the foul pole, a plate appearance that ended with a sac fly. That drive came after a batting practice session where he drilled at least a dozen balls into the seats as he was searching for the swing that could finally get him to 300.

“The last two [batting practices] I’ve had the last two days were different,” Arenado said. “It’s not so much about the result as what I’m seeing and feeling at the plate. Today, I was able to lay off some sliders down when I had been swinging at every single one of them the past few days. There are little things that I’m trying to do to get in a better position to hit.”