The Colorado Rockies franchise has not experienced a great deal of success in the 24 seasons of their existence. The Rockies have recorded six winning campaigns, appeared in the postseason three times, and reached the World Series in the 2007 season.
After a 7-0 shutout victory in the first game of a doubleheader against the division rival Los Angeles Dodgers on August 31 of this past season, the Rockies found themselves within four games of the .500 mark.
At that point the team was also within just 6.5 games of an NL Wild Card playoff berth. It would be the closest they would come. The Rockies would go 11-19 the rest of the way, and lost eight of their final 10 games.
Still, the final record of 75-87 was a seven-game improvement over 2015, and their third place finish in the NL West Division was their highest since 2010.
ARENADO KEY TO ROCKIES
The biggest single factor in the Rockies’ improvement this season was the solidification of the status of 25-year-old third baseman Nolan Arenado as one of baseball’s best and youngest superstars.
Arenado hit for a .294/.362/.570 slash line with 41 home runs, 133 RBI, and 116 runs scored. He was selected to his second consecutive NL All-Star team.
Just this week, Arenado was awarded the National League Gold Glove Award for his play at third base. It is an award which the elite defender has now won in each of his first four big league seasons.
ARENADO PRODUCES AT HOME AND AWAY
It is widely acknowledged that there is an advantage for a batter to hit at Coors Field in Denver, Arenado’s home ballpark. But his numbers are not simply a product of a favorable home field environment.
Arenado has appeared in 280 games at home and 281 on the road in his career. There have been 277 starting assignments in each category. He now has 1,193 career plate appearances at home in Coors, and 1,149 plate appearances on the road.
The majority of players in baseball history have performed better in front of the home crowd in their more comfortable home parks. While his numbers do show better at home, he is clearly a strong road performer as well.
For his career, Arenado has a .308/.355/.581 slash line at Coors with 66 homers and 238 RBI. Away from home, Arenado is hitting for a .261/.305/.457 slash with 45 homers and 138 RBI.
ARENADO AN INEXPENSIVE STAR
Perhaps the best part of all this production so far has been that Arenado has been inexpensive. After making just over a million dollars total for his first three seasons, he was paid $5 million for his work in 2016.
Arenado will be arbitration eligible for the first time, and he is going to begin to get expensive to the team. He is due to become a free agent following the 2019 campaign.
History seems to say that if Arenado wants a chance to win on a consistent basis, he is going to have to leave Colorado in order to do it. He will be just 28 years old when he reaches free agency and can write his own ticket at that point.
The Rockies have themselves a genuine superstar. If they want to have any chance at all to build a long-term contending team around him, they would be well advised to move to get him signed. A long-term deal well before he approaches that free agency opportunity would be smart.