There is little question that the Colorado Rockies have one of the best left sides of the infield in Major League Baseball. After another award-filled offseason, the question is what comes next to Colorado’s dynamic duo at shortstop and third base.
With shortstop Trevor Story capturing his second consecutive Silver Slugger Award in addition to his highest-ever Gold Glove finish and third baseman Nolan Arenado earning his seventh straight Gold Glove and his third consecutive Platinum Glove, the duo certainly provided plenty of highlights for the Colorado Rockies in a down season.
The soon-to-be 27-year-old Story enters 2020 with expectations that he will more than double his salary (jumping to $11.5 million, per MLBTradeRumors.com estimates). It’s his second year of arbitration, meaning the Rockies will have his services through at least the 2021 season.
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Last season, Story was second among shortstops in Defensive Runs Saved, according to FanGraphs, only behind Nick Ahmed, who had 19 DRS compared to Story’s 18. However, Ahmed also played 123.1 innings more at shortstop than Story this season and ended up winning his second consecutive Gold Glove.
At the plate, Story slashed .294/.363/.564 and posted a 118 OPS+ while logging 6.4 WAR. That was the highest WAR for the Rockies this season, with Arenado’s 5.7 coming in second.
Story told me in an exclusive chat just after the season concluded that he already had a game plan to improve in the offseason.
"“I’ll take a couple of weeks off [to] let my body heal and rest,” Story said, “and then get back at it and try to get stronger again and faster again and work my baseball skills because, in this game, you can never really master it. There’s some little things here and there that I want to clean up so I’m excited for [the offseason].”"
Part of that game plan could be using Story’s speed more to Colorado’s advantage on the bases. Story’s sprint speed of 29.2 feet per second is among the top 40 in all of baseball.
The Rockies experimented with Story in the leadoff role in 23 games last season and he responded with a .290/.371/.527 slash line in the spot as Charlie Blackmon slid down in the order. In 2020, Story could bring a combination of speed and power to the top of the lineup in the same way Blackmon did in recent years.
For Arenado, it’s hard to poke many holes into a season where he hit a career-high .315 and posted a career-high .379 on base percentage. A down July (.247/.306/.348) was followed by a sizzling August (.337/.369/.733) and September (.342/.451/.671).
In an interview before leaving the Colorado clubhouse for the last time in 2019, Arenado insisted, however, there was still plenty of room for improvement.
"“I don’t want want to be content with what I’m doing,” Arenado told reporters, including Rox Pile. “I mean, I think, obviously this year was pretty special and I’m very thankful for that but there’s always room to grow and the last thing I want to do is be content with what happened. I feel like I can work harder than I did this last year and get stronger, get quicker.”"
Arenado turns 29 in April and has the much-discussed opt-out clause following the 2021 campaign. He didn’t hide his frustrations regarding the disappointing 2019 season. Can Colorado’s front office do enough this offseason to keep Arenado’s frustrations from boiling over again in 2020?
Both Story and Arenado have the opportunity to leave the Rockies following the 2021 season. Will Colorado offer Story a long-term contract knowing payroll is extremely constricted this year? Will the Rockies find enough reasons to keep Arenado from considering his opt-out and sticking with his contract through the 2025 campaign?
We know the short-term future of Colorado’s left side of the infield. As Story and Arenado both work to improve, can the Rockies do the same? That’s the biggest question of all when looking at Colorado’s dynamic infield duo.