DENVER -- Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado burst onto the scene in 2013, though not in the way many expected him to. It was with his glove, not his bat that Arenado first made his mark at the major league level, winning Gold Gloves in each of his first two seasons.
However, Arenado's bat, which was his calling card as a prospect thanks in part to a 2011 season in Modesto that saw him hit .298/.349/.487 with 55 extra-base hits and 122 RBI, has come along more slowly, as he hit .277/.314/.450 with 28 home runs in 918 at-bats in 2013 and 2014.
"It's something I've had to work on," Arenado said. "My offense has come slower than my defense has come, but it's getting better. I think the experience and playing up here has helped it come along."
Arenado's offense, especially his power, have certainly come along in 2015, as he is hitting .284/.315/.568 with 17 home runs and 54 runs batted in, the latter number good for fourth in all of baseball. He also has 36 extra-base hits against just 40 strikeouts in 257 at bats so far this season.
"I'm seeing the ball well," Arenado said. "They've made a couple of mistakes and thank God I was able to take advantage of them."
It has particularly been Arenado's power and home run totals that have spiked in 2015, with his ISO jumping from .173 in his first two seasons to .284 in 2015, a number that ranks eighth in baseball, putting him just ahead of Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo and Angels center fielder Mike Trout.
As for the long ball, Arenado's 17 home runs in 2015 are his third-most in any professional season, behind the 20 he hit with Modesto in 2011 and his 18 home runs in 111 games last year. Arenado hit a home run every 24 at bats last year, the best mark of his professional career. This season, that has dropped to a home run every 15.1 at bats.
"I've just tried to hit the ball hard and luckily some of them have gone out," Arenado said.
Hitting the ball hard is something Arenado has done quite well this season. According to Fangraphs, he hits the ball hard 35.1 percent of the time, up from 33.9 percent last season. More importantly, he is making soft contact just 11.7 percent of the time this season, down from 17.1 percent in 2014.
More good news for Arenado is that he is doing a large portion of his damage on the road. He has hit .288/.331/.608 with 11 home runs in 33 games away from Coors Field and just .280/.300/.530 with six home runs in 34 games at the Rockies' notoriously hitter-friendly ballpark. It is uncommon for a Rockies player to have an OPS more than 100 points better on the road than at home, and Arenado has been one of the rare few to do so.
"I've just put in some good swings on the road, and just gone off of that," Arenado said.
Things do look to be on the upswing for Arenado at home, as he is 8-for-20 (.400) with three doubles, a triple, a home run, four RBI and six runs scored in five games on the Rockies' current homestand and has an overall hitting streak of nine games.
"I would love to be even (at home and on the road)," Arenado said. "But as long as I'm doing enough to help the team win it doesn't matter."