Arenado thriving with championship ambition

Rox slugger astounds both at plate and with glove

September 15th, 2017

Sometimes, between doing spectacular things with his bat, his glove and his grit for the Rockies, likes to daydream.

"I've been envisioning a world championship for us in Denver and seeing all of the people in the streets," Arenado said of what he believes would happen if Colorado grabs its first World Series title someday.

"A few years ago, when the Broncos won the Super Bowl and seeing how everybody reacted in the city, it was amazing, and it was pretty cool," Arenado said. "When you play in the same city, it sort of bums you out that you haven't gone anywhere near close to what [the Broncos] have been able to do. So those things drive me."

That explains why Arenado combines passion with his play to become somebody who has it all in the Major Leagues. I mean, what third baseman fields better than this guy? OK, Manny Machado has his Brooks Robinson moments, but Arenado has twice as many Gold Gloves Awards as Machado with four, and he can hit, too. I'm talking about for average, for power and for the overall good of the Rockies, since he rips line drives in the clutch.

There's just one thing Arenado needs as he heads toward the end of his fifth season of excellence in the Majors.

I'll put it this way: The next time the Rox make the postseason with Arenado on their roster will be the first, and guess what? Unless either the Brewers or the Cardinals surge like crazy down the stretch, you'll see Colorado vs. Arizona in the National League Wild Card Game.

Wild Card standings

After that, the Rockies could reach the NL Division Series, and who's to say they can't play for the pennant days later, or even represent the NL in the World Series along the way to winning it all?

"I'm not trying to sound negative, but we're not in it yet," Arenado said recently, chuckling. "You know, we still have a lot of games to go. We still have to focus on who we play at the moment, and that should be our No. 1 concern. If we start looking ahead and start picturing things and who we're going to play and this and that, at the end of the day, we might not find ourselves there."

Yeah, but Arenado's mind still has a tendency to wander into the middle and the deepest parts of October, because he's only human, even though his numbers keep saying otherwise.

As for this season, Arenado owns a career-high batting average at .306. He has 33 home runs, tied for sixth place in the NL, along with an NL-leading 42 doubles and a Major League-high 123 RBIs. Not only that, but Arenado is on the verge of knocking home more runners than anybody in baseball for a third consecutive year. He also ranks third in the Majors in total bases with 326 after he led the NL in that category last season with 352 and the Majors the year before that with 354.

I've already mentioned Arenado can field a little. In fact, his fifth consecutive NL Gold Glove Award should be expected this offseason.

We're back to those postseason wishes for Arenado. His Rockies enter their home series this weekend against the Padres with a 2 1/2-game lead over the Brewers and the Cards. And yes, I know Arenado doesn't want to think too far ahead with more than two weeks left in the regular season, but you just know he has spent part of his 26 years dreaming about the feeling of playing for a team that makes the final out of the World Series.

"Yeah, absolutely. You always envision those things," Arenado said. "Whenever I work out during the offseason, my trainer always tells me that you're not training for 162 games. You're training for 162-plus. You know that, right? So I know August and September is a grind time, but I've trained myself to play longer than that. Both mentally and physically, I've trained myself to get into October and to play as long as I can."

To translate, it's about the long run for Arenado, which is why he didn't panic with a bunch of other folks after he struggled at the plate from late August through the opening week of September. During that stretch, he hit .194, but if you go by his expected batting average (.233, a 39-point difference) based on exit velocity and launch angle, he was swinging better than that.

This is just another solid year for Arenado, and you wonder if more than a few people are taking everything he does for granted.

"I think players respect me," Arenado said. "I think teams respect me by the way they go about their business. That's what it's all about. Just getting respect from your peers, and I respect them. You know, naturally, I may not get as much attention as some of the other guys, but that's also a credit to the market we have, and we also haven't won at lot either. That all plays a factor."

That, and no postseason for Arenado. But just wait.