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Rockies shortstop Trevor Story has a big opportunity in 2018

The shortstop might offer the most upside of the team’s options for the middle of the lineup.

The Colorado Rockies need a young hitter or two to break out in 2018. Having committed to spending in free agency on their bullpen, they need to find internal answers for their mediocre offense. It is all but certain that the Rockies will not make a major move to upgrade their offense. Once they signed Wade Davis, they closed the door on any free agent moves for their offense. The only way that would happen would be a trade, which feels unlikely but is not impossible. Unless they do actually make a deal, they will turn to internal options to improve their offense. The Rockies have the prospects to reasonably hope for that to happen, even if there is risk involved with that plan.

A lot of that pressure is focused on David Dahl, a former top prospect in the organization and league-wide. Dahl made a splashy debut in 2016 but then lost all of 2017 due to injury. The pressure may be in the wrong place though. We don’t know if Dahl is up to being a middle-of-the-order bat on a contending team or not. And in fact, we still don’t know if he’s healthy, even with the welcome news that he started swinging a bat this week. There might be another answer to the Rockies offense, however, in a player who is more familiar and has a firmer track record both in his strengths and his flaws: shortstop Trevor Story.

We know that Story can be a difference maker. One season isn’t a long track record, but we saw Story succeed, struggle, and make some adjustments down the stretch. Ultimately he was too inconsistent, and the idea of relying on him in the heart of the order makes most of us queasy enough that we were pining for outside additions once the season concluded.

Story is one of a number of internal players who can improve to raise the collective floor of the offense, but unless you are still an Ian Desmond truther, it seems pretty clear Story is the guy with the most upside. He’s already a stellar defensive shortstop who hit 27 home runs in 2016 and 24 home runs last season.

Unfortunately we know that power came in the midst of an inconsistent season in which the strikeout-happy Story (191 strikeouts) was often part of the problem for a bad lineup. His sub-par 86 OPS+ better illustrates the unsteadiness of his 2017 and highlights the need for him to improve if he’s going to be the very good to potentially All-Star player to help push the Rockies over the hump in a playoff race.

Can Story justify the Rockies’ inaction on the offensive side of things this offseason? Probably not, and that’s probably not fair to ask of any individual player. But he can at least make the team’s plan more defensible by improving to the level of a solid, consistent power hitter on par with what they could have added via free agency or trade.

It’s a big ask, but we know Story has the talent to do it. That gives him a big opportunity to help drive this team to the playoffs and to take a firmer hold of the shortstop position while many of us are making eyes at new top prospect Brendan Rodgers. He has the talent and the room to improve to be an impact hitter, and if he can it will go a long way for the Rockies as their lineup tries to catch up to their starting rotation and bullpen.