Colorado Rockies young stars setting pace for Denver’s youth movement
By Kevin Henry
Watching the Denver news last night, I started thinking about if this was a Golden Age in Denver sports, including what the Colorado Rockies are bringing to the table in terms of youth and hope for the future.
Of course, many people’s first thoughts when it comes to Denver and sports happens to be that team that wears orange and plays at a now unnamed stadium (or somewhat named stadium, depending on how you look at it). It isn’t a great time for the Broncos, and that’s one of the reasons why I wrote this article about how the Rockies future is actually much better in the short term than their NFL cousins.
So, try for a moment to forget the Broncos. I know it’s hard (especially if you’re on 104.3 FM) but work with me here for a moment. Let’s talk about the teams that actually have young talent that is making an impact.
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Yes, for me, that starts with the Rockies and Nolan Arenado, who was just ranked as the top third baseman in the game by ESPN’s Buster Olney in this article (subscription required). At the age of 26, Arenado has already done so many incredible things at the plate and in the field … and he’s just hitting his prime. Any possible postseason run the Rockies will put together starts and ends with Arenado’s skills.
A little more than a mile away at the Pepsi Center, the Colorado Avalanche has rebounded in amazing fashion from last year’s 22-win campaign, thanks in part to the play of 22-year-old Nathan MacKinnon. Just named to his second consecutive NHL All-Star Game, MacKinnon has thrust himself into MVP conversations and has the Avalanche at 22 wins just 41 games into the season.
Sharing the Pepsi Center with the Avalanche, 22-year-old Nikola Jokic has become one of the centerpieces of the Denver Nuggets attempt to get back into the Western Conference playoffs. Averaging a double-double through his first 33 games, scoring and rebounding may not even be the strongest pieces of Jokic’s game. Have you seen some of his passes? Watch the video below. His proficiency to find the open man is one of the reasons he is averaging five assists per night as well. Not bad for a 6-foot-10 center.
By the way, 23-year-old Gary Harris leads the Nuggets in scoring at 16.9 points per game at Denver’s midway point of the regular season.
So that makes the 26-year-old Arenado the “old man” of the Denver group of young guns, huh? Technically … and he also has some younger teammates who could be making more noise of their own very soon. Colorado ace Jon Gray is also 26 and fellow starters Kyle Freeland (24), German Marquez (22) and Antonio Senzatela (22) helped make the Rockies amazingly young (and successful) on the mound last season.
And let’s not forget about 25-year-old shortstop Trevor Story who set a National League record in his rookie season … or 23-year-old outfielder David Dahl, who tied a Major League record in his rookie season in 2016.
Next: Did this offseason push the Rockies past the Diamondbacks in the NL West?
Enjoy the youth movement in Denver sports right now, folks. It is something fun to watch and gives Denver sports fans hope for plenty of years to come, especially those of us who spend lots of time at 20th and Blake.