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Tuesday Rockpile: Rockies have a gem at third base in Nolan Arenado

Nolan Arenado has already proved his worth defensively. Now, about getting that bat going...

Dustin Bradford

Colorado Rockies rookie third baseman Nolan Arenado is still trying to find his way at the plate at the big league level, hitting just .244 with a .272 on-base percentage (though he owns a respectable slugging percentage of .462).

However, the 22-year-old second-round pick of the 2009 MLB First-Year Player Draft has already proven he belongs with the big boys at the hot corner.

Arenado enters play on Tuesday ranked first among National League third basemen in total zone rating, a Baseball-Reference statistic that combines a number of different things into an overall defensive contribution number based on runs saved. Because of his defensive aptitude, Arenado has already amassed a 1.0 defensive rWAR, tying him for third among all NL position players. Not bad for a guy who, not too long ago, was talked about by scouts as a defensive liability at third base.

Fangraphs' defensive metrics aren't shy about their love for Arenado, either; the Newport Beach, Calif., native tops all NL position players with a UZR/150 of 43.3. Because of that, Arenado has contributed nearly a full win despite appearing in just 21 games and performing below average offensively and on the basepaths.

Of course, one thing on which anybody who was watched the kid play defense can agree is that he passes the eye test; save for a couple of errors, he has made all of the routine plays and has mixed in a few spectacular ones for show -- including this one, for which he received a standing ovation. Arenado, combined with Troy Tulowitzki, who is also near the top of his position in each of the aforementioned defensive metrics, has dramatically improved the left side of the Rockies' infield, as shared with us by ESPN's Mark Simon:


It's no stretch whatsoever to say that, with Tulo (who is NOT moving off of shortstop anytime soon -- GET OVER IT) and Arenado manning that side, the Rockies should be fun to watch defensively for quite a few years to come.