When Rockies’ shortstop Trevor Story got the nod to be Troy Tulowitzki‘s replacement, he bursted on the scene in a huge way. In Story’s first month in the big leagues, he hit 10 home runs in 92 at-bats. Then came the thought that Story would become the typical current major leaguer. Someone who could hit the ball out of the ballpark, but also strike out his fair share. In 2017, Story had a career high 191 strikeouts in 145 games. Now in 2018, Story has proven to be considered as one of the elite young shortstops in baseball.
We think of the likes of Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, and Manny Machado as the league’s best, and that is probably because those three have track records in the postseason. Story’s only postseason appearance was in last year’s National League Wild Card game where he had two hits including a home run.
In a lineup that consists of Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon, Story has been able to contribute in a major way. Blackmon’s numbers are slightly down from last year, and Story is taking the reins as the Rockies’ second best offensive player. Nolan Arenado is in the discussion to win his first MVP award, and on the Rockies, Story only trails him in WAR for hitters at 4.4.
Through 123 games, Story is hitting .294 with 26 home runs with 84 RBIs and an OPS over .900, which led to his first All-Star appearance. The power stroke remains, but Story has been more consistent at the plate, where manager Bud Black can slide him in the four or five spot in the lineup. Extra base hits are also way up, and he is on pace to surpass his career best and hit nearly 50 doubles. Story is also on pace for approximately 170 strikeouts which is still a high number, but is still less than the 191 he had when he entered the league in 2016. Story’s numbers are higher against lefties which will be important come playoff time when he can see names such as Clayton Kershaw, Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, Cole Hamels, and Patrick Corbin.
Story’s bat is what makes him a great talent, but watching his all-around game develop is what puts him in the conversation to be considered elite. Story thus far has 17 stolen bases, more than any other season where he never was in double figures. In addition, his fielding percentage is also at its highest levels. Correa, Lindor, and Machado all have teammates who have in the past or are now in the mix to win the MVP. Therefore, Story’s value can still be elite even if there is a player of Arenado’s stature on the roster.
Currently, the Rockies are playing some of their best baseball of the season, especially coming off a four-game sweep against the Atlanta Braves to close out a road trip winning five of six. Story has become a key reason to the Rockies’ surge that has them only one game behind the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West race. The team also has two series against the D-Backs in September.
The National League is wide open, and the Rockies are playing much better baseball than the six games over .500 they were at the All-Star break. In September, the San Diego Padres are the only team that the Rockies will see that do not have their eyes set on making the postseason. The Giants and Nationals have an uphill battle ahead of them, but it’s too early to completely eliminate them from contention with about six weeks remaining.
The Rockies’ season will conclude with a seven-game home stand, and Story has been a force at home all year. Story is hitting .316, and over half of his hits at Coors Field are for extra bases. While the altitude in Colorado can help, it doesn’t tell the whole story to why Story is breaking out.
There’s no doubt the National League postseason picture will take its twists and turns until the season ends, and the Rockies are right in the middle of it. Starting pitching led by Kyle Freeland has done its job stepping up at the right time. The bullpen that General Manager Jeff Bridich spent $106 million last offseason on can still be dangerous with Adam Ottavino and Wade Davis at the back end. And the lineup which has gotten healthier with David Dahl is still a threat to score in bunches.
Brendan Rodgers who is one of the top prospects in baseball also plays shortstop. However, Story isn’t going anytime soon, and with Arenado and DJ LeMahieu‘s free agency approaching, perhaps he could fill their spot if they depart. Trevor Story‘s value to the club has been instrumental to why they are in this position making him in the discussion to be added as one of the elite young shortstops in baseball.