Jul 3, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Colorado Rockies third baseman N. Arenado poses for a portrait prior to a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The Colorado Rockies have a budding superstar at third base (and beside the plate), but while his defense and power are the focus, he does other things very well, too.
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Of course, everybody struck out today, so it’s not a knock on Nolan to have done it twice (not surprisingly, Drew Stubbs did it in all three at-bats).
In fact, I’m only writing this post because I’m alarmed that Arenado did strike out twice today; for all the incredible things he does on offense and defense, there’s one really specific thing about Arenado’s game that is really, really impressive to me in just his third year in the big leagues: he doesn’t strike out.
Considering Arenado has 25 home runs and 76 RBIs this year — which firmly puts him in the upper-upper echelon of big league sluggers in 2015 — you’d expect more strikeouts than a 14.4% rate. Most sluggers (very generally speaking, of course) strike out a lot. It’s par for the course, especially in today’s game, to see sluggers striking out nearly 30% of the time, and if you can hit 35-40 bombs a year, hey, that makes it all good.
But Arenado doesn’t do that. At 14.4% this year, and just 13.6% in his career, Arenado is remarkably hard to strike out, even as a young player who’s had just 1,378 big league plate appearances.
For a fun little exercise, let’s compare strikeout rate among Major League Baseball’s home run leaders (in parentheses, 2015 home runs, 2015 K rate, career K rate):
Mike Trout (31 HR, 22.8%, 22.4%)
Albert Pujols (29 HR, 10.9%, 9.8%)
Todd Frazier (27 HR, 16.9%, 20.5%)
Bryce Harper (27 HR, 20.6%, 21.2%)
J.D. Martinez (27 HR, 27.1%, 24.8%)
Giancarlo Stanton (27 HR, 29.9%, 28.3%)
Nelson Cruz (27 HR, 22.2%, 22.1%)
Nolan Arenado (25 HR, 14.4%, 13.6%)
Chris Davis (24 HR, 30.8%, 31.0%)
Josh Donaldson (24 HR, 19.4%, 18.7%)
Alex Rodriguez (24 HR, 21.4%, 18.4%)
Mark Teixeira (24 HR, 13.1%, 11.5%)
Carlos Gonzalez (21 HR, 20.3%, 22.1%)
So how about that list. There are some really good names on that list, and Arenado has the third-lowest K-rates in 2015 and his career, only behind Pujols and Teixeira — both pretty damn good players in their own rights.
No, strikeout rates alone do not a good player make, but here they do serve to show just how unique of a talent Arenado has become. He’s increasingly shown power, he plays marvelous defense, and he doesn’t fall pray to the trappings of so many guys who hit the ball a long ways.
No, he’s probably not on a general career pace to match up well with Albert Pujols (think more Adrian Beltre, who himself is a borderline Hall of Famer!), but any time you’re in that kind of company, even early in your career, you’ve done something right.