Arenado proving he deserves All-Star nod
Rockies third baseman may not get fan vote, but his talent is on clear display
Third baseman Nolan Arenado never said a word to Giants manager Bruce Bochy, the National League All-Star manager, during the Rockies' three-game visit to AT&T Park last weekend. He did, however, make an All-Star statement that came through loud and clear.
Arenado had five hits, four home runs and eight RBIs at AT&T Park -- where in his previous visit this season, he reinforced the defensive abilities that have earned him an NL Gold Glove Award in each of his first two big league seasons by going over the tarp and into the stands to make a game-saving play.
Yes, Arenado is fourth in fan voting. No, it isn't likely he can be overlooked.
"If you don't get voted in by the fans, you want to make an impression on the [All-Star] manager," said Rockies first-base coach Eric Young, an All-Star himself during his playing career. "I know Bochy was high on him before the series, but it just took it to another level, and he did it again and again."
But then that underscores the entire season for Arenado. He has taken his game to another level.
Arenado is playing himself into discussions of the game's elite players, much less an All-Star invite.
"There are other third basemen who are having strong seasons, but Nolan has put the season together that makes him the premier third baseman in the Major Leagues, not just the National League," said Young.
Even though Arenado didn't get to the big leagues until the final weekend of April two years ago, he already has those two Gold Glove Awards, voted on by managers and coaches for defensive excellence. His defense hasn't lost a beat this year, but his offense has risen to a higher level.
Arenado takes a 17-game hitting streak -- the longest active streak in the big leagues -- into Wednesday night's game at Oakland. During the streak, he has hit nine home runs and driven in 21 runs. For the season, Arenado goes into Wednesday hitting .292, and already setting personal single-season highs with 24 home runs and a Major League-leading 68 RBIs to go with 17 doubles and three triples.
Arenado's 4.1 WAR is third in the Majors, behind only Mike Trout of the Angels and Bryce Harper of the Nationals.
"I don't think there's a question that he has earned his way on the team," said Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. "People can say what they want. They can talk about Coors Field, but he's put his numbers together on the road. He has shown he can produce in any ballpark."
Arenado is not only hitting .297 on the road, but he leads the Major Leagues in both road home runs (15) and RBIs (37), and he is third with a .662 slugging percentage behind Nelson Cruz (.696) and Harper (.679).
Surprised? Don't be.
"He has always been good, but he is more sure of himself now," said Tulowitzki. "He works hard, and he is benefitting from that. He's doing what elite players do, and he is going to be a great player because of his work habits."
Back in 2011, when Arenado was at Class A Advanced Modesto, there was enough concern about his defense to spark discussions about him moving across the field to first base. By the end of that season -- thanks to the guidance of Modesto's manager that year, Jerry Weinstein, and Scott Fletcher, who was the Rockies' infield instructor -- Arenado was entrenched as a third baseman.
Arenado has worked to become even better since, both in the field and at the plate. The rewards are becoming obvious.
"It's about getting experiences," Arenado said. "I've learned from what I have been through. I face a situation and I can think back and remember I've been there before."
Arenado is intense. He is emotional, but he also is still in awe of his surroundings.
Bochy has been a believer in Arenado's abilities since the first time he saw him, and he never hesitates to praise the Rockies third baseman.
Arenado remains in awe of the man who has guided the Giants to three World Series in five years.
"I'm a huge fan of Bochy," he said. "He's an intense and intimidating guy. You watch him in the dugout. He is so intense. He's a good manager. He is aware of what's going on."
Just in case Bochy needed a reminder about Arenado's abilities, the third baseman provided that refresher course last week.
The timing couldn't have been better for Arenado's All-Star hopes.