Arenado's Five-Year Itch Puts Him At the Top of the List of Elite
Nolan Arenado's fifth anniversary of his big-league debut was Saturday.
It wasn't necessarily a memorable night. The Rockies lost, 4-1, at Miami, and Arenado's career-long struggles in Miami continued.
The five years, however, have been memorable. Arenado has established himself as one of the game's premiere players, and the argument can be made that even though he is seen in an elite class, he still doesn't get his due from the public.
That, however, may well work for Arenado.
He is intense and focused.
"He's not afraid to make the great play and he's never afraid to make mistakes," said teammate DJ LeMahieu. "He goes after it, and lets his talent take over."
His competitive nature came through six years ago. After an All-Star season at High-A Modesto in 2011, he went to the Arizona Fall League, and was elected the AFL MVP over a class that included Mike Trout and Bryce Harper.
They were the 2012 AL and NL Rookie of the Year selections. Harper also was the NL MVP, and Trout finished second in AL MVP voting.
Arenado, meanwhile, made the move to Double-A Tulsa, and then was dealt a blow late in the season. Then-general manager Dan O'Dowd paid a visit to Tulsa, and told Arenado he wasn't going to be called up at season's end, and wouldn't open the 2013 season in the big leagues, either.
Arenado's focus was questioned.
"That bothered me a lot," said Arenado. "My goal was to make the big leagues that season. For (O'Dowd) to say that, it bothered me big time. ... I decided I was going to quit worrying about it, play the game hard, and play for my teammates. I decided I was going to have fun playing the game, and playing for my boys in Tulsa. That's when things turned around."
Turned around? Well, O'Dowd didn't back off his statement. But on April 28, 2013, after 18 games at Triple-A Colorado Springs, Arenado got the call, and never looked back.
"That was an incredible part of his career for him," said Jeff Bridich, the current Rockies general manager, who was the farm director in 2012. "He didn't know it at the time. That's where some of the maturity comes in. He was ready to know it. But what he went through was part of what helped him springboard to the big leagues."
Springboard? He jumped to the head of the class.
In the five-year period from his debut until Saturday he led all National League players in RBI, ranked second in home runs and third in doubles.
|Nolan Arenado||518||Giancarlo Stanton||173||Daniel Murphy||196|
|Paul Goldschmidt||512||Nolan Arenado||152||Matt Carpenter||195|
|Anthony Rizzo||467||Paul Goldschmidt||147||Nolan Arenado||188|
|Jay Bruce||436||Anthony Rizzo||143||Freddie Freeman||184|
|Giancarlo Stanton||435||Jay Bruce||137||Paul Goldschmidt||181|
|Andrew McCutchen||428||Bryce Harper||127||Anthony Rizzo||179|
|Freddie Freeman||425||Freddie Freeman||124||Andrew McCutchen||164|
|Adrian Gonzalez||421||Joey Votto||124||Anthony Rendon||160|
|Buster Posey||400||Andrew McCutchen||122||Buster Posey||155|
|Matt Kemp||396||Charlie Blackmon||117||Yadier Molina||150|
|Carlos Gonzalez||115||Charlie Blackmon||148|
|Source Stats, Inc.|
And in the world of analytics, Arenado was the 59th player taken in the 2009 draft, but his 28.3 WAR is the third highest of any player from that year's selection process.
He didn't get immediate attention from the nation's media. In Rookie of the Year voting in 2013, Arenado received one third-place vote.
|Name||Tm||Vote Pts||1st Place||Share|
His peers, and managers and coaches, however, recognized him quickly. Even though he was a month shy of five full seasons in the big leagues at the end of last year, Arenado won five NL Gold Gloves in the five years, the only player to win a Gold Glove each of the last five years.
He is also the only player to win a Silver Slugger Award in voting by coaches and managers each of the last three seasons.