Colorado Rockies superstar third baseman Nolan Arenado has already racked up the hardware in his first five-plus seasons in the bigs.
He’s been awarded five Gold Gloves and three Silver Sluggers, finished in the top 10 in National League MVP voting in 2015, and finished in the top 5 in 2016 and 2017 and arguably should have finished higher.
Barring something unexpected, Arenado will be able to add a fourth-consecutive All-Star Game appearance to that list this summer. Nolan currently holds the lead in All-Star Game voting among NL third basemen by a fairly wide margin (more than 200,000 votes), putting him in a good position to take the field as the NL’s starting third baseman for the second year in a row.
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Since his rookie year in 2015, Kris Bryant of the Chicago Cubs has been Arenado’s primary competition at third base. The two young sluggers have often been the subjects of classic baseball debates on who is the NL’s best third baseman, and though Bryant is having a slow first half (only eight home runs in 231 at-bats), he is once again the only third baseman anywhere near Arenado in the early voting.
Statistically, Arenado’s biggest threat is probably the Cincinnati Reds’ Eugenio Suarez. However, Suarez is nowhere near Arenado’s total in fan votes. Only Braves’ first baseman Freddie Freeman has more votes in the NL than Arenado’s 527,683. In contrast, Suarez has received a meager 87,659 votes.
That lack of support for Suarez does not reflect the stellar first half he has put together. He is hitting .298 with 12 home runs and 49 RBI, despite missing time with an injury. Those numbers are very similar to Arenado’s .305 average, 12 home runs, and 37 RBI. Of course, Arenado is far superior defensively to Suarez … or anyone else in the league.
Another guy underrepresented in the voting who is having a stand-out first half is the Brewers’ Travis Shaw. Shaw is only hitting .243, but his 14 homers lead NL third basemen and his 43 RBI are second. Despite that production, Shaw didn’t even crack the top 5 in the initial returns for third base in the NL.
I mention Suarez and Shaw even though they are well behind Arenado in voting both because they are having significantly better seasons than the other third basemen who received votes and also because the order of players behind Arenado right now seems really odd. For example, the Braves’ Johan Camargo is currently in third place, not too far behind Bryant.
Camargo is hitting .222 with six home runs. I don’t care how big of a surprise Atlanta has been, Camargo is not going to the 2018 All-Star Game.
Before the final votes are cast, I expect Shaw and Suarez to see surges in voting, but I don’t see them overtaking Arenado, or even Bryant, in the fan vote. There is still a chance they are chosen for the roster, but it doesn’t look like either of them will start.
With Arenado’s closest competition in the fan vote slumping, his lead feels pretty safe at the moment.