A pack of reporters carrying notepads and cameras surrounded Nolan Arenado in the Colorado locker room after the Rockies beat the Cubs 11-4 on Sunday.
That day, Arenado busted out of a rare slump by bashing two three-run homers. The frustration of going 4 for his last 35 — a .114 batting average across 10 games — had faded away. Arenado was all smiles when someone asked him what was going through his head on the second home run.
“That’s me,” he replied. “That’s how I felt. When I’m going good, I can pull the ball with backspin. That’s what I did today. I was just like, ‘That’s who I am.”
The pair of 440-foot-plus homers served as a reminder, not just to the Rockies fans at Coors Field or watching on TV, but to Arenado himself. The Rockies’ 25-year-old third baseman, now in the closing stretch of his fourth MLB season, is one of the best players in baseball.
Since Sunday, Arenado’s hit two more home runs and four more RBI. Here was his solo homer Wednesday:
He’s up to a National-League-best 34 home runs and an MLB-best 108 RBI. He entered the game slashing .286/.357/.564. Arenado’s only seemed to improve from last year — more than doubling his walk rate and striking out less — which in itself is a little scary.
A year ago, Arenado became one of 15 players ever to reach .280/.320/.570 benchmarks with 40-plus home runs in his first three MLB seasons. He won a Gold Glove, too.
Arenado, who’s made an art form out of fielding the ball barehanded and firing it over to first, looks like he’s on his way to his fourth Gold Glove this year as well.
If he does, he’ll join Johnny Bench (1968-77), Ichiro Suzuki (2001-10) and Charles Johnson (1995-98) as the only players to ever win four Gold Gloves in each of his first four MLB seasons.
There are so many maddening things about the Rockies. They’re inconsistent. Their bullpen is what it always is. But there is hope for the future, and the biggest reason why is Arenado.
He’s already one of the best players in the game. Has been for the last two seasons. And if he continues what he’s doing, Arenado, could become one of the greats.
Sunday and everything that’s happened since have just served as a reminder.