The Colorado Rockies are currently sitting in first place in the National League West. That’s thanks in large part to one of the most productive left sides in baseball. They have two MVP candidates at third and short, in Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story, and they’ve also added a red-hot Matt Holliday to left field. These three guys could lead the Rockies to their first division title in franchise history.
Obviously, they’re going to have help from guys like Charlie Blackmon, DJ LeMahieu, Carlos Gonzalez and Ian Desmond, but Story and Arenado are doing the heavy lifting and Holliday’s veteran presence in priceless this time of year.
Arenado is arguably the best third baseman in baseball. He’s also a contender for the NL MVP award and for good reason. Nolan has a slash line of .297/.379/.550 with 31 home runs, 93 RBI and 88 runs scored. His advanced statistics are just as impressive. He’s put up a 130 wRC+, .389 wOBA, 34.6 wRAA and a 43.3 percent hard-hit rate. According to Fangraphs, he has an Off of 21.2 and a WAR of 4.6.
The craziest part of Arenado’s case for MVP is, he’s not even leading his team in all those categories. The guy who stands beside him in the field is having an equally as impressive year, despite not getting as much recognition.
After a three-homer game where he hit one ball 505 feet, Trevor Story is finally getting some attention for the year he’s had. He’s making his own case for MVP with a .298/.354/.566 slash, 31 homers, 95 RBI and 77 runs scored. Story also has a wRC+ of 127, wOBA of .386, a 33.8 wRAA and a 45.3 percent hard hit rate. His Off sits at 21.5 going into Friday night’s game and his WAR is at 4.7.
The only other team in baseball with a shortstop-third baseman duo like the Rockies is the Cleveland Indians with Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez.
As if having Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story on the left side of the field wasn’t enough, the Rockies went out and signed free-agent veteran Matt Holliday to play left field. It was a full circle move for Holliday, who was drafted by the Rockies and brought up to the MLB through their system. He brings a ton of experience to the table, including seven postseason appearances in his 15-year career.
They didn’t bring him back for his experience alone, though. Holliday earned his spot on their roster by hitting .345 with 3 homers, 15 RBI and a 1.055 SLG in 16 minor league games this year. At the big league level, he’s been just as productive, giving the Rockies even more reason to keep putting him in the lineup. Over 10 games and 24 at-bats, Matt has a slash line of .375/.483/.500, one home run, two RBI, five walks and two runs scored. In his short time, he’s also put up a wRC+ of 159, wOBA of .431 and 0.3 WAR.
The Rockies are holding on to a slim 1.5 game lead over the Dodgers for first place in the West. They start a huge series with Los Angeles tonight at Coors Field. The match-ups for the series are Clayton Kershaw and Jon Gray tonight, Walker Buehler and Kyle Freeland Saturday and Alex Wood and Tyler Anderson in the series finale on Sunday.
The other team right on their heels at 2.5 games back is the Arizona Diamondbacks, who will come into Colorado for another huge series, this time four games, after the Dodgers leave. The next week could be detrimental to the Rockies chances to win the division. They hold their fate in their own hands, though, and have put themselves in a good spot.
After the next two series, the Rockies will face both the D-Backs and Dodgers only three more times. So, even if they struggle this week, there still may be a chance, but it’s going to be tough. Both of the remaining series’ with Arizona and LA are on the road. However it turns out, it’s shaping up to be a wild final month out west.
Featured Image by Mark Rebilas — USA Today Sports
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