Welcome to the 2021 edition of Ranking the Rockies, where we take a look back at every player to log playing time for the Rockies in 2021. 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. 1, Trevor Story: 4.2 rWAR
Trevor Story burst onto the scene in purple pinstripes in 2016, launching seven home runs in the first six games of his rookie season. After losing Troy Tulowitzki to a trade in 2015, Story was a very welcome sight for sore eyes amongst Rockies fans. Having an exciting player like Story step into the role and not look back helped the Coors Field faithful move forward into a new era.
Even though Story’s rookie season was cut short by injury, he still finished fourth in National League Rookie of the Year voting after finishing with 27 home runs, a .272/.341/.567 slash line, and an OPS+ of 122 in just 97 games played.
Story would go on to be a key contributor on two playoff teams, something few Rockies players in their 29-season history. 2017 and 2018 marked the first time in Rockies history that the club made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons.
Story had a bit of a sophomore slump in 2017, but was still a contributor to the playoff-bound Rockies, finishing with 24 home runs while providing outstanding defense as he and Nolan Arenado locked down the left side of the infield.
In 2018, Story made his first All-Star team as he finished with 37 home runs, 27 stolen bases, 108 RBI, a slash line of .291/.348/.567 and an OPS+ of 127 and an rWAR of 6.2. He led the Rockies to the brink of their first ever division win, ultimately losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 163.
Colorado did, however, earn a wild card spot and the opportunity to beat the Chicago Cubs in a Wild Card Game for the ages. Story’s defense helped Kyle Freeland, Scott Oberg, and all of the pitchers in between prevail 2-1 in 13 innings.
2021 - a season long swan song
Story came into the 2021 season in the last year of his contract, with two All-Star Game appearances under his belt and without Nolan Arenado, who had played next to him in each of his first five seasons. Story, along with Charlie Blackmon, had become a clear face of the franchise and took the role in stride.
Story struggled to find his power early in the season, failing to hit his first home run until the 19th game of the season (April 23) and only notching 11 home runs in the first half. However, with the Rockies hosting the All-Star Game, Story was the clear choice to represent them in the Home Run Derby. He didn’t disappoint, hitting 20 home runs in the first round and defeating Joey Gallo before falling to Trey Mancini by a 13-12 margin in the second round.
Story returned to his typical self in the second half of the season and was the engine that kept the Rockies offense moving throughout the second half of the year. Following the All-Star Break, Story slashed .253/.337/.506, hit 13 home runs, and had an OPS+ of 126 in 65 games played.
Story's 2021, like the entire Rockies team, had its ups and downs but ended with him finishing with the highest rWAR on the team. He finished with a slash line of .251/.329/.471, 24 home runs, and an OPS+ of 103. His defense and speed certainly helped to round out his game and always made him a valuable player, even when he struggled at the plate.
Story’s six-year career has been highlighted by his six tools (hitting, hitting for power, running, fielding, throwing, and bat-flipping). Story has been in the middle of the Rockies lineup throughout his career and his hit tools have always remained a signature of his, speed has always been a huge part of Story’s game and he has routinely ranked toward the top of the league in sprint speed, his range and strong arm have highlighted his outstanding defensive prowess, but his bat-flips are what really make him stand out. Story took his bat-flip game to a new level in 2021 and separated himself from the rest of the league.
Trevor Story has entered the running for best bat flip of the year.— Cut4 (@Cut4) April 26, 2021
Here’s the Batcast™: pic.twitter.com/yZc87ShCeN
Trevor Story bat flip appreciation post pic.twitter.com/4KwNMJZBhZ— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) September 12, 2021
Once Story was not traded at the deadline, the focus surrounding him revolved around speculation regarding his future. Story did his best to be honest about his relationship with the organization and thoughts about where he would sign to play in the offseason. He made it clear that he intended to test the open market while also being sure to show his appreciation for the Rockies and the fans for their support in the first six years of his major league career.
Ultimately, not trading Trevor Story allowed him to get what Nolan Arenado never got: a proper send-off from Rockies fans.
Story has been one of the most talented players to ever play in purple pinstripes and the faithful at Coors Field were able to show him just how much he was appreciated.
While it’s not necessarily over, the Rockies chapter of Story’s baseball career seems to have come to a close. His time in Colorado contained some of the highest highs and lowest lows in franchise history, but Story Time has been a highlight throughout it all.