Barring injury (or trade) Trevor Story will make his sixth consecutive opening day start at shortstop for the Colorado Rockies. Could this be his last?
Maybe. But let’s take a moment here to appreciate the last 15 years of excellent shortstop play the Rockies have had with both Troy Tulowitzki and Trevor Story. It’s been a tumultuous 15 years, but shortstop has been a steady staple in the lineup and one of the reasons fans have stuck around. It’s arguably the most difficult defensive position to play and the Rockies have enjoyed a combined seven All-Star appearances, four Silver Sluggers and two Gold Gloves at shortstop during that time. In that same span the team has only made four postseason appearances, but the point is shortstop hasn’t been a concern for a long time. And at least to begin the year, it’ll still be their strongest position.
Trevor Story is THE man not just at shortstop but in the lineup and in the clubhouse. He’s now the unquestionable face of the franchise and according to MLB Network, the best shortstop in the game.
We all know how great he is and last year was another fantastic year for Story. He slashed .289/.355/.519 while leading the league in stolen bases (15) and triples (4). Story also finished 10th in rWAR for NL positional players (2.4) and turned more double plays than any other shortstop. This all culminated in him earning a few MVP votes.
He’s due for some big money this offseason whether that’s in Colorado or somewhere else. For this reason, there’s obviously the possibility that he may not finish the year with the Rockies. Such a blockbuster move wouldn’t just rearrange the infield but the entire direction of the club. Nevertheless, for now Story will keep donning the purple pinstripes while being one of the best in the league. Let’s just enjoy it for as long as we can.
With Brendan Rodgers expected to take over the second base job, and Garrett Hampson likely getting at least a share of centerfield, Chris Owings figures to be the primary backup. Story doesn’t normally take a lot of games off, just one last year and around 15 to 18 games during normal years. But when he does, it’ll most likely be Owings filling in if he makes the team.
Owings, who plays all over the field, actually has nearly two thousand career innings at shortstop. He came in last year and provided valuable production and versatility off the bench, albeit he was only in 17 games but slashed .268/.318/.439. That was enough to earn himself another shot this year after signing another minor league deal in January.
Besides Owings, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Rodgers occasionally slide over to short on Story’s days off. Rodgers is originally a shortstop and plays above average there. It’s also possible we could see Garrett Hampson play short at some point, although he’s probably most needed in the outfield.
In the event that Story is traded this season, I would guess Rodgers would move to shortstop and a combination of Owings, Hampson and maybe a young guy would back him up.
Speaking of young guys, Alan Trejo seems like the next logical middle infielder to get the call up if needed. Trejo is out of Southern California and was a 16th round pick back in 2017. He stormed out the gate that year and hit .347 in Grand Junction. He last played at Double-A Hartford where his numbers took a hit (.243/.290/.391) but still showed some power with 15 home runs. So far this spring, he’s 4-for-15 and played above average defense.
Another guy that’s not as young but provides depth at shortstop is Eric Stamets. Stamets is 29-years-old and actually made his big league debut back in 2019 with the Cleveland Indians. What’s held Stamets back for so long is his hitting, struggling in parts of four Triple-A seasons with a line of .230/.299/.379.
Utility man Bret Boswell (No.24 PuRP) could also be an option. Boswell last struggled at Double-A in 2019 and hasn’t been given much playing time this spring but was added to the 40-man roster last November.
On the farm
One of the brighter spots in the Rockies farm system is Ryan Vilade (No.3 PuRP). Vilade was a second round pick out of high school in 2017 and spent 2020 at the team’s alternate site where he received glowing recognition from farm director Zach Wilson. Vilade was drafted as a shortstop but is transitioning to third and the outfield corners.
The rest of the Rockies young middle infielders Eddy Diaz aka “Fast Eddy” (No.14 PuRP), Adael Amador (No.15 PuRP), Julio Carreras (No.16 PuRP), Bladimir Restituyo (No.26 PuRP) and Ezequiel Tovar (No. 28 PuRP) are all still a ways away and will spend 2021 in the reshuffled minors.
In case of disaster
For this position the most likely disaster happening is the Rockies deciding to trade Trevor Story. With Story gone, watching Rockies baseball could get extremely tough. There is no replacing Trevor Story just as there was no replacing Nolan Arenado. That doesn’t mean the Rockies won’t move him, it just means it’ll hurt a lot if they do.
No matter what happens during this season or at the end of it, Rockies fans should love and appreciate the incredible talent they have for as long as they can.