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Nolan Arenado was still Nolan Arenado, but not quite like we’re used to seeing

A shoulder injury limited Arenado in the second half, but he still managed to have a really, really good season

You’re reading the 2018 edition of Ranking the Rockies, where we take a look back at the season had by every player to play for the Rockies in 2018. The purpose of this list is to provide a snapshot of the player in context. The “Ranking” is an organizing principle that’s drawn from Baseball Reference’s WAR (rWAR). It’s not something the staff debated. We’ll begin with the player with the least amount of rWAR and end up with the player with the most.

No. 3, Nolan Arenado (5.6 rWAR)

Nolan Arenado is still an incredible third baseman who leads the league almost every year in home runs and highlight reel defensive plays. However, 2018 showed us that Nolan Arenado is, in fact, human. His first half was another “Nolan being Nolan” narrative — .312/.395/.586 with 23 home runs. However, he suffered a shoulder injury in mid-August and it just seemed like he never recovered — hitting only .275/.343/.586 with 15 home runs in the second half. His 18.1% strikeout rate was also the highest of his career and his highest since 2015 (16.5%).

Nolan also didn’t have as many highlight reel defensive moments in 2018, only being credited with five defensive runs saved (DRS). 2018 was the first year in which he finished with a single digit DRS; he recorded 20 in 2016 and 2017, 18 in 2015, 16 in 2014, and 30 in 2013.

Even with those “down year” stats, he still managed to snag himself a Gold Glove (6), a Platinum Glove (2), a Silver Slugger (4), and this year he is finally a finalist for NL MVP. However, he once again did not win the Hank Aaron Award (Christian Yelich did) and did not receive Fielding Bible honors for the first time since 2015 (Matt Chapman did). It just goes to show how truly amazing Arenado is if he can manage to still add a bunch of hardware to his cabinet despite having a “down year.”

The continuing topic going into next year is still Arenado’s contract. He is due for a big payday in 2019 and set to become a free agent at the end of the season, so the Rockies have a decision to make — should they try to sign him to a long-term deal, trade him now to get some value if they can’t extend him, or just sign him for 2019 and figure out the rest at the end of the season?

It’s one of the biggest decisions looming over the Rockies, and whatever it ends up being will affect the team for years to come. However, until that decision is made, Rockies fans can (hopefully) look forward to a bounce back year from Arenado in 2019 that will get everyone excited for another year of watching Nolan being Nolan.