At the end of the 2017 campaign, Rox Pile’s Noah Yingling wrote that a potential rebound year for Trevor Story would be a reason to get excited for the 2018 season. Like many players before him, Story had his fair share of offensive struggles during the second season of his career (in 2017). So, let us take another look at where the Colorado Rockies shortstop was last season, what happened this spring, and where he is with the first series of 2018 in the books.
As Noah highlighted in his article, baseball fans hopped aboard the Story hype-train as he made his debut against the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2016. His debut was a pretty epic one at that, as Story launched two home runs off the heralded D-Backs’ ace, Zack Greinke, which only a couple of players have ever managed to do.
However, the torrid start of his rookie season was put to an end by a thumb injury that required surgery. So, it wasn’t until this last season that we got a real look at what Story could do from an offensive standpoint for a full season. There were some high spots … and there were certainly some low spots, as well.
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com
With a batting average of .239 through 145 games, the Rockies shortstop suffered through 191 strikeouts. That was the worst in the National League. Yes, the same National League that featured former Rockies teammate, Mark Reynolds. That is saying something.
As cliché as it is to mention, the reality is that managers and pitchers have learned how to pitch effectively against Story. They know he is going to hack or (attempt to) jack, which is reinforced by his 34.4 K% and 47.9 FB% over 503-at bats in 2017, according to FanGraphs.
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There were some promising things about Story in the 2017 season though. Despite the below-average batting average and inordinate amount of strikeouts, Story still connected enough to hit 32 doubles and 24 home runs, while driving in 82 runs. As the Rockies made a push towards postseason play, Story had came alive in the last month of the season.
Story also had a great spring. He had clearly been focusing on plate discipline and creating more contact. Bud Black had even mentioned, this spring, that he could envision Story hitting fourth in this Rockies lineup, as reported by Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post.
However, as history and common sense tell us, hot streaks and spring statistics have to be taken with a grain of salt. After three games against Arizona to start the 2018 campaign, Story has seemingly reverted right back into old habits, chasing balls out of the zone and getting under too many pitches. He presently has one hit (a single) and seven strikeouts in 12 at-bats. That’s not exactly a carry-over from his solid spring … but I am here to declare that it is OK!
It is not all doom and gloom. I mean, it is early in the season, people. The beauty of being only three games into the season is the sample size. We tend to overanalyze a very limited amount of data. Story has plenty opportunity to relax and get into a groove. However, I have already seen a few fans out there on Twitter getting impatient with Story … especially with Brendan Rodgers, the 22nd-ranked prospect of Baseball America’s Top 100 MLB Prospects waiting in the ranks.
However, as Rox Pile’s Kevin Henry wrote, there is no rush on bringing Rodgers to the major league level just yet. It would obviously a knee jerk reaction to bring an underdeveloped Rodgers to the big league level to replace Story, especially considering Story is still a young player with a very high ceiling.
The reality is that Trevor Story will be a pivotal piece with this season’s Rockies … for better or worse. He definitely has all the offensive tools to make it for the better.
The Rockies are going to be neck-and-neck with their National League West rivals for a Wild Card spot. If they hope to lock that up Wild Card, and play deeper into the postseason, they are going to need Story to turn the corner.