Story following Arenado's example

Rockies shortstop looking to improve situational hitting by emulating teammate

March 11th, 2018

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies shortstop doubled in two runs in Sunday's 13-7 loss to the Dodgers, and carries a .450 Cactus League batting average with five doubles, two triples and a homer in 20 at-bats. But what has made his spring special is not swinging.

Story has always hit balls hard, evidenced by his 51 home runs in 242 career games. He also has 321 strikeouts, averaging a little more than three K's for every 10 at-bats. Whether Story reaches stardom -- something always possible with a guy who is powerful and fast, and rivals the game's best shortstops in ability to turn tough plays into outs -- could depend on how well he can match his approach to the situation.

It's an improvement teammate has made, and one Story wants to emulate.

"He's pretty incredible in that aspect," Story said. "It feels like every time somebody's in scoring position, they end up scoring when he comes up to the plate. Watching him and taking some things from him has been big for me."

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It didn't happen overnight. Here are Arenado's early-career slash lines with men on base:

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2013: .270 batting average/.304 on-base percentage/.392 slugging percentage

2014: .308/.364/.492

Now, dig this:

2017: .345/.413/.651

Here are Story's numbers in his first two seasons. Keep in mind, he had a torrid beginning to his rookie year, and his opportunities to hit were reduced when he suffered a season-ending right thumb injury:

2016: .304/.400/.620

2017: .245/.306/.455

Story fought swing mechanics for much of last season and was hitting .220 as late as Aug. 13. But in his final 45 games, he batted .278/.330/.580 with nine home runs, 33 RBIs, 18 doubles and two triples. Included were many smart at-bats, which have continued into this spring.

"You look at Trevor earlier in the year and there were some at-bats where we had a guy on third base and less than two outs, and sort of expanded the zone out of aggressiveness and wanting to get the job done and knock in that run," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "He came out of his at-bat.

"As the year went on, he did much better. He's an aggressive hitter by nature, which is great. It's what all good hitters are. But he's seeing the ball well and making pitchers throw strikes. That's a great sign."

Story still will lean toward taking his best power swing, especially if he is feeling confident against the pitcher he is facing. But Story also is trusting his eyes.

"You just look out to the field, know what the scoreboard is telling you, and it tells you what to do," Story said. "See where the runners are. The game will tell you."