Welcome to the 2019 edition of Ranking the Rockies, where we take a look back every player to log playing time for the Rockies in 2019. 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 lowest rWAR and end up with the player with the highest.
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No. 2, Nolan Arenado (5.7 rWAR)
In 2019, Nolan Arenado hit 41 home runs, won the Gold Glove at third base, and took home the Platinum Glove for the National League. Yawn.
That level of greatness has become routine for the Rockies third baseman, the 41 home runs made it three times in his career he has hit more than 40 home runs, and it was his fifth straight season with at least 37 of them. The Gold Glove was Arenado’s seventh in a row (and he’s only played seven seasons) and the Platinum Glove was his third straight.
Arenado did not have a standout season by his own lofty standards in 2019, but he still hit .315/.379/.583 with the 41 homers and 118 runs batted in. He tied Max Muncy for 7th in rWAR among NL position players. Arenado has been a model of consistency the last four seasons, with his wRC+ between 126 and 132 and his wOBA between .386 and .395 in each of them. He had a 128 wRC+ and .392 wOBA in 2019. He also finished sixth in NL MVP voting in 2019, his fifth-consecutive top eight finish.
One area in which Arenado did improve offensively this season was in reducing his strikeouts. He dropped to a career-low 14.0% strikeout rate in 2019, and his 93 strikeouts overall were his fewest since his injury-shortened 2014 season.
Defensively, the story is the same. Arenado’s seven consecutive Gold Gloves to start his career are the second-most all time to Ichiro, who started his big league career with 10 straight, but give Nolan three years and he can probably match that feat. The advanced defensive metrics have more variance on his performance in 2019, but his 14.2 FRAA rates as excellent and is his highest total since 2016.
The Rockies know they have Arenado for at least two more seasons before he can opt out of the eight-year, $260 million deal he signed in February, so expect him at the hot corner at Coors Field at least until then.