Trevor Story's start to the season has been nothing short of remarkable, proving once again that just about anything is possible in small sample size baseball.
Story's always had decent power for a middle infielder, but he's never shown anything like this. In 2012, he hit 18 home runs in 122 games at homer friendly Low-A Asheville. That number dropped to 12 long balls in 2013 during a trying year in High-A Modesto, and only increased slightly to 14 in 108 games across multiple minor league levels in 2014. Last year was his new peak in power; he hit 20 home runs in 130 combined games at Double-A New Britain and Triple-A Albuquerque, but that still did nothing to foreshadow what was in store for the first week of 2016.
In just six games, he's hit seven home runs. No rookie, at any point in any debut season, has ever done that. Two decades from now, Story could look back on a long and successful major league career, all while never being quite as hot from a home run perspective as he is right now. Baseball is weird.
In recent Rockies history, you have to go right through the biggest names to wear the purple pinstripes to find brief bursts of power displays this impressive. Last year, Nolan Arenado hit eight home runs in a seven game stretch from June 21 through June 27, and Carlos Gonzalez actually tagged seven home runs in a five games stretch from July 22 through July 27 that was largely overshadowed by the Troy Tulowitzki trade that occurred at about the moment the last long ball came down.
This isn't the only positive sign. When Story homered in each of the team's first four games of the season, he joined a list that included only Willie Mays, Mark McGwire, Nelson Cruz and Chris Davis. This isn't to say Story will end up hitting home runs like any of these guys, but it does start to give you an idea of how high Story's floor likely is as a player. Even in small sample sizes, when you have to go to short lists that include players like these (and only players like these), it's usually a smoking gun that you've got something in a player. Only time will tell exactly what that something is once the large sample size gods take over.
At some point, the game of baseball will get its revenge. It always does. Pitchers will adjust, the ball will look smaller, Story's home run to fly ball rate will plummet, and the game will become if he can cut down his swing and miss rate enough to remain productive at the plate.
For now though, he's doing amazing things, and the baseball world is noticing. For instance, MLB Network recently ran a segment where they compared Trevor Story to a young Troy Tulowitzki, and it's clear that pieces of Story's swing should look familiar to longtime Rockies fans.
"This is when you're that kid in the backyard saying, 'I'm Troy Tulowitzki!'" said Harold Reynolds. "He's done some kind of job imitating Tulo and carrying it to the big leagues. But whether it was intentional or not, it sure looks like it. Not a bad guy to pattern your swing after."
In this video, you can see what Reynolds is talking about:
"Hats off to [Trevor] Story for setting his eyes so high," said Pedro Martinez. "Because trying to imitate [Troy Tulowitzki] or be like Tulo is a lot to ask. So hats off to his start so far into the season and hats off to trying to be and do everything like Tulo because Tulo is one special player and if this kid is just as good as Tulo is, oh boy baseball is becoming more exciting."
It's unlikely the Rockies will ever have another shortstop as good as Tulo for as long as any of us are living, especially when you combine what he did at the plate with his defense, but the fact that Story's been able to do anything that reminds us of the former Rockies great is outstanding for both him and the club.
Also, while we're on this subject, I just wanted to point out one other rather thing Story does that reminds me of Tulo.
As both players go through their batting routine leading up to each pitch, they tend to hold the bat out in front of them straight up waist to chest high from the handle to the barrel, almost like the top of it's on fire -- hey, as hot as these guys get at the plate maybe it is. They then stare at it, and make funny faces in the process.
We only have one picture of Story doing this in our Purple Row photo archive so far (I'm sure they'll be more to come), but I placed it between a couple where Tulo does it below so you can see the similarities though juxtaposition.
It's actually quite amusing.