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Nolan Arenado: 'I want to be a dude'

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Oh you are certainly "a dude," Nolan. The question is: When will you be THE dude? The answer? Probably not too far down the road.

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"When people come in to play Colorado, I want my name to be popping in their heads."

Nolan Arenado wants to be a better leader and a better player, the young third baseman recently told MLB's Thomas Harding. He's definitely on the right track.

Arenado continued his Gold Glove caliber defense -- judging both by the eye test and the advanced metrics -- in 2014 while steadily improving his offensive game. That was evident in so many ways.

In his age 23 season, Arenado finished with a .287/.328/.500 line -- good for a 116 OPS+ -- and rattled off 54 extra-base hits despite missing 51 games due to various injuries. Arenado experienced improvement in his offensive game without the benefit of luck; the California native recorded a below-average BABIP for the second consecutive season, this time checking in at .294. But there's reason to believe his batted ball luck can improve next year and in the future.

Arenado cut down on his strikeouts and experienced a slight increase in walks that should continue given his age. Arenado already boasts above-average contact skills across the board; going forward, his success will be determined by his ability to make that contact truly matter.

He took a step in the right direction in 2014, hitting fewer grounders and more fly balls -- and he hit those fly balls harder and farther than he did in 2013, the result of which was an increase in HR/FB rate. It also helps that Arenado, while still firmly in the top 20 in the league at swinging at pitches, offered at a lesser percentage of pitches in 2014 than he did the year before, and he also made more contact.

"I want to be a dude," Arenado told Harding. What does that mean? It means he wants to be mentioned in the same breath as guys like Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, Todd Helton, Matt Holliday, Larry Walker, Andres Galarraga, etc. He wants to be one of those feared Rockies hitters that we've seen over the years.

He's getting there, and it likely won't be long before he reaches his goal.

Links

Five sleeper free agents still available - SweetSpot Blog - ESPN
David Schoenfield examines the market and finds five valuable, under-the-radar free agents, absolutely none of whom would be a good fit for the Rockies. OK, maybe Francisco Rodriguez on a cheap deal, but then again he allowed 14 home runs in 68 innings last season. Do not want.