Nolan Arenado: 2014 Colorado Rockies Player Grade

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Nolan Arenado, the Gold Glove third baseman, missed 51 games for the Colorado Rockies this season and it might have started the team’s collapse.

Out of all the injuries this season, this one might have hurt the most.

Nolan Arenado was having a career season before breaking his finger on a slide into second base against the Atlanta Braves on May 23. After the injury, the Rockies won only eight games without Arenado in the lineup for over four weeks, having one of their worst months in team history.

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Despite the injury, there was no sophomore slump for Arenado, who made a name for himself defensively during his rookie campaign. An improved, aggressive approach at the plate paid huge dividends for the third baseman. His power numbers jumped off the charts, especially at home, where his OPS+ was 156 and he hit 16 of his 18 home runs.

Even though his road numbers saw a drop in production, Arenado still worked well to get on base, posting a .310 on base percentage and actually hitting eight more doubles on the road than he did at home. He bumped his OPS nearly 100 points across the board in every split you could think of, including on the road and against right handed pitching.

Defensively, it was more of the same from Nolan. Though he fell off slightly from his tremendous 2013 performance, it’s clear Arenado is an elite fielder and when he and Troy Tulowitzki are on the left side of the diamond at the same time, it’s nigh impossible to get a ground ball through. Beyond the arm and the flashy plays, Arenado seemed to put up nightly in 2014. His range is among the best in the game. He makes the difficult plays look easy and it is tough to judge that from the eye.

His elite range defensively is a major asset not only to the Rockies as a whole as their infield defense rivals the best in the league, it becomes a giant help to their All-Star shortstop Tulowitzki. A good defensive third baseman can help limit Tulo’s range and limit the plays he has to make. That can put rest onto not only Tulo’s mind but also his oft-injured body and can only help him make that jump to playing a full season for the Rockies in 2015. Arenado made 43 plays out of his “defensive zone” in 2014, a generous help to any shortstop the Rockies have.

With all this, an argument can be made that Arenado may have been more than just a part of the Rockies’ fast start; he may have been the cog that kept the wheels together. A hitter that could give the Rockies a solid 3-4-5 option in the lineup as well as an elite defensive asset that provides relief to the toughest position in baseball next to him, Arenado’s injury may have been shorter than Tulowitzki’s or Gonzalez’s but it certainly seemed to hurt more.

2014 Grade: B+

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