Notes: Story seeks 30-30; McMahon at 3B

February 24th, 2021

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Will the Rockies’ be the shortstop of the year in the year of the shortstop?

There is a deep class of shortstops headed into free agency after the 2021 season, which will keep them in headlines. Cleveland trading Francisco Lindor to the Mets started that news cycle. One guy who was years from free agency, the Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr., had an impact on the financial landscape with his 14-year, $340 million contract.

But how about baseball? Sometimes it’s good to set aside what Story refers to as the “the business of baseball” -- with Story himself the center of trade speculation -- and just compare what happens on the field.

Story, 28, recently was named to the top spot on the MLB Network’s “Top 10 Shortstops Right Now” and ranks 16th in its Top 100. Lindor, the Dodgers’ Corey Seager, the Astros’ Carlos Correa and the Cubs’ Javier Báez -- all potential free agents -- and the White Sox’s Tim Anderson are among those competing with Story for tops at the position.

“It feels good, but I’ve never been motivated by anything other than myself or my own thoughts,” Story said Tuesday -- the first day of full-squad workouts at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. “I try to make it about myself and how I can improve my game each year. That’s on me. It’s on me to identify the spots and be honest with myself about where I can get better.

“It’s cool. It’s a super-competitive, super-talented group of shortstops. We all push each other in one way or another, even if we know it or not.”

So let’s run some quick comparisons that take into account physical tools and positional acumen. Here are some Statcast measures, compiled by MLB.com’s Sarah Langs:

Highest hard-hit rate since 2018, shortstops (min 500 batted balls):
Trevor Story: 45.3%
Corey Seager: 43.3%
Javier Báez: 42.9%
Xander Bogaerts: 42.1%
Francisco Lindor: 41.0%

Most Outs Above Average, shortstops since 2018:
Javier Báez: 22
Nick Ahmed: 19
Trevor Story: 16
Francisco Lindor: 16
Andrelton Simmons: 15

Fastest average sprint speed among shortstops, 2020 (min 50 competitive runs):
Trea Turner: 30.0 ft/sec
Fernando Tatis Jr.: 29.4 ft/sec
Adalberto Mondesi: 29.4 ft/sec
Trevor Story: 28.9 ft/sec

So when it comes to hitting hard, making plays and running fast, Story has been among the best for a while. But he sees an area that must be addressed.

Story finished last season with 10 errors in 57 games. He has never had more than 13 in a season. In a normal year, he tops 140 games played easily. Most mistakes came during a rut with his throws.

“That was the one that stuck out to me, and we addressed that,” Story said. “I can’t blame anyone but myself -- just a little footwork issue and really just getting through the ball and driving to my target. I really pride myself on making the plays that need to be made.”

Related

Had last year been a full season, Story had a chance at 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases. Not since the Marlins’ Hanley Ramirez (33 HR, 35 SB) in 2008 has a shortstop produced a 30-30 season. Only Hall of Famer Barry Larkin (Reds, 1996), Alex Rodríguez (Mariners, 1998), Jimmy Rollins (Phillies, 2007) and Ramirez have accomplished the feat while primarily playing short.

“I felt like I was on a good pace last year, and obviously we didn’t play enough games, but that’s been on my radar,” he said.

McMahon's skills
Unless the Rockies use their defensive versatility another way, will move from second to third base -- where he’ll play in the shadow of the eight Gold Glove Awards that Nolan Arenado collected before he was traded to St. Louis. But the Rockies have confidence McMahon will provide strong defense at the position.

McMahon played third base throughout the Minors, but he moved to first and second because of Arenado’s presence.

“At first, second or third, he’s an above-average defender on a scouting scale,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “He proved that at second, definitely at first, and he’s potentially going back to the position he’s most comfortable with. It’ll be fine.

“He’s got as good arm strength as any infielder in the game.”

Will it change how Story plays at short?

“Nolan was super-aggressive, as he should be -- that’s why he’s the best third baseman in the game,” Story said. “Maybe I’ll play a little more straight-up, but ‘Mac’ is very aggressive himself.

“It’ll be the same type of deal I had with Nolan. If ‘Mac’ can get to it, then he takes it. That’s the rule that we’ve followed since I’ve been here. If the third baseman can get it, it’s an easier play.”

Getting to know him better
The Rockies have Spring Training to evaluate hard-throwing right-hander , a Rule 5 Draft pick from the Dodgers. Selected 36th overall out of Vanderbilt in 2016, Sheffield has 240 strikeouts and 128 walks in 211 1/3 professional innings. To make the squad and avoid being returned to Los Angeles, Sheffield must curb walks. With his early pro career spent as a starter, Sheffield balances his fastball with a hard slider and a changeup.

“The walk rate is too high at the Minor League levels,” Black said. “We’ve got to dig a little deeper with Jordan to find out why that’s happening. But everything lines up, stuff-wise, the mentality, and his aptitude to be a force in the big leagues, if he can get the ball in the strike zone.”