Story stays the course, snaps homerless drought

May 20th, 2016

ST. LOUIS -- Rockies rookie shortstop Trevor Story may no longer be the subject of the baseball world's tongue-in-cheek calculations about how many home runs he's on pace to hit, but he's still certainly pleasing the Rockies.

Story's solo home run off the Cardinals' Tyler Lyons in the seventh inning of a 13-7 loss was his 12th of the season -- the most in history for a Major League shortstop in his first 40 games.

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Story had gone without one for 53 at-bats over 11 games, but he has also shown that he's about more than hitting the ball over the fence. With a two-run double in the Rockies' third inning (he also singled during the four-run fourth in addition to the homer), Story lengthened his hit streak to seven games and has hit safely in 17 of his last 20 games.

Story is trying to avoid worrying about the contest that makes the game interesting -- how opponents adjust to a successful player, and what that player does to stay ahead or regain his edge.

"I really don't think that deep into it," Story said. "I'm trying to see the ball and react to it. I see some teams do stuff a little more than others, but I really don't ever deviate from my plan, which is trying to get a pitch to hit over the plate."

Story also is making a case for this second National League Rookie of the Month Award, with a .319 batting average. Story leads the NL with 27 extra-base hits.

"He made a lot of noise with the big start, but he's played very well throughout," manager Walt Weiss said. "It's tough sometimes to live up to the billing if you have a start like that, but Trevor has done a heck of a job staying the course."

Because of analytics folks' search for perfection or the human tendency to say, "Yeah, but …," Story's strikeout total, now 58, has been called into question. Still, his .344 on-base percentage is solid, and no No. 2 hitter in the NL comes close to his .622 slugging percentage.

As Story has settled into regular starts, his OBP is up a tick lately (.372 this month). The key is in Story's mindset.

Rather than allow the strikeouts to push him into a defensive mindset that comes with obsessing over two-strike hitting, Story is doing a better job with pitches in the hitting zone early in the count. He'll take a healthy cut with two strikes -- Thursday's homer came on a 2-2 pitch -- but the other hits were with 0-1 and 3-1 counts, pitches he was missing just enough to foul off earlier in the year.

"That's one of the biggest things for me, to take care of my pitches so I don't have to get to two strikes and battle," Story said. "I'm just trying to take care of that pitch when I get it."