The Colorado Rockies' future is at once in doubt and certain. The fates of current superstars Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez are in question as are the futures of potential free agents Jorge De La Rosa, Brett Anderson and Michael Cuddyer. The in doubt part. But the certainty of this team is Nolan Arenado. No matter what happens the rest of this season or this offseason, he is on the inevitable rise to superstardom.
What will get Nolan on all the highlight shows and garner him some nationwide name recognition is his glove. Manny Machado may get all the love at third because he's on the East Coast, but if the Rockies are on the winning train next year, Nolan will easily catch and surpass Baltimore's young number five. Arenado is simply the best defensive third baseman in the majors. If you've seen more one of his 'dive to his right, pop up, set his feet and throw out the runner by two strides' plays, you know it's true.
The only player to ride his glove to superstardom was Ozzie Smith. Bats make superstars. Missing more than a month of the season with a broken hand hurt Nolan's season numbers, but they still come in at a respectable .288/.322/.489, 11 HR, 46 RBI. And before any of the 'Coors Field bump' talk starts, at home this year, he's hitting .274 compared to .305 on the road. Arenado is riding a hot streak right now, batting .368 with 2 HR and 6 RBI in the last week, so the numbers should only get better.
Putting up numbers is always nice, but putting up numbers when they really matter is special. With runners in scoring position this year, the batting average is .343. And when there are two outs and runners in scoring position, he's even better, hitting .345 and has driven in 13 of his RBI. In plate appearances in the seventh inning or later with the game tied or differentiated by one run, he's hitting .396 with 3 HR and 9 RBI, including a walkoff double against the Giants in May. And the sure sign of a guy who can carry his team, Nolan is hitting .325 out of the 3-hole.
Whether he's protected in the lineup by Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez next season, or if it's just Justin Morneau, if he keeps growing as a player, there will be no stopping Arenado. If Tulo and CarGo are traded this offseason, the superstar vacuum won't be void for long.
And the best part about all this Nolan Arenado goodness? He's only 23.
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- A Glimpse at Life Without Troy Tulowitzki
- The Colorado Rockies Midseason Awards: Position Players
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