After making the postseason in two consecutive seasons, the Rockies have failed to live up to expectations this season and currently sit with a record 15 games under .500.
While a majority of the team’s key players have ended up on the injured list or somewhere within Colorado’s minor league system, Nolan Arenado has continued to perform in a down season for his club.
The Rockies’ offseason was highlighted by Arenado signing a lucrative eight-year, $260 million contract that could keep him with the club through the 2026 season.
Although the Rockies were swept over the weekend in a four-game set versus the St. Louis Cardinals, Arenado had the opportunity to interact with one of the best third basemen of the 21st century, Scott Rolen.
Rolen was inducted into the Cardinals’ Hall-of-Fame over the weekend and had high praise for the Rockies’ star.
“[Arenado] has a real good feel of where to be, when to be there,” Rolen told MLB.com. “Last night, Yadi hits the ball down the line, and he’s just there. He makes a great play. That’s a big thing that I hope isn’t lost in the game as we keep going with a lot of the analytics. I want to keep the instincts and the feel for the game.
“He’s got a real nice knack at the plate to get to barrel to the ball and in the field to be in the right position to make a play.”
Rolen played 17 seasons in the big leagues and was of the best at the hot corner during his playing days. Rolen suited up for the Cardinals from 2002-2007, collecting seven All-Star nods, eight Gold Gloves, NL rookie of the year honors (1997) and a World Series crown in 2006.
Arenado grew up idolizing Rolen and emulated his game after the former All-Star.
“At the end of the day, you hear about this guy named Scott Rolen who is one of the best,” Arenado said. “Everyone’s goal is to become the best. I try to watch him and see what he was doing different(ly) than everyone else. Everyone was talking about Scott Rolen. I’m trying to learn a little bit, but at the same time, I’m just admiring his work, how good he was, what he accomplished. I’m not trying to take anything from him. He’s one of the greats, and we should appreciate him.”
While Arenado’s Rockies were bludgeoned in St. Louis, he managed to etch his name in Colorado’s record books.
Arenado cranked his 33rd home run of the season in the fifth inning of the Rockies’ game versus the Cardinals Sunday afternoon. The longball was Arenado’s 17th road home run of the season which is tied for the 10th-most road home runs in a single season in franchise history, joining Ellis Burks (1996) and Charlie Blackmon (2016).
Additionally, Arenado joins Vinny Castilla as the only two players to appear on the top-10 single-season road home run list three times in franchise history.
The records did not stop there. Arenado also reached the 100-RBI mark on the season. Arenado became the fifth player in club history, along with Dante Bichette, Vinny Castilla, Todd Helton and Larry Walker, to have five seasons with 100-or-more RBIs. Arenado is the third player in club history with five consecutive years of at least 100 RBIs.
Given his performance over the last half-decade, Arenado is on track to become the greatest player in franchise history, assuming he spends the entirety of his career in Colorado.
That said, Arenado holds a lot of pride in turning the stigma of the Rockies around within the sport and Colorado.
“I think it’s a baseball city in a sense,” Arenado said of Denver. “When I first got there I really felt that it was a football city because the Broncos were really good and we were not, and you can tell more people were concerned with the Broncos. Now it’s just different… Nowadays you can really feel them like never before.”
While the Rockies have not lived up to expectations in 2019, Arenado has continued to shine bright as he has further solidified himself as the top third baseman in the game today.