Nolan Arenado: The Game’s Best All-Around Third Baseman

Have you taken a moment to sit back and relish in the season that Nolan Arenado is having for the Colorado Rockies? If not, you should. It’s becoming one for the ages.

Arenado blasted his 40th home run of the season in Friday night’s loss in Los Angeles. The Rockies’ All-Star third baseman not only continues his assault on the Colorado record book, but also his place as the best all-around third baseman in the game today.

Absolutely, there are some great third basemen playing the game today. Manny Machado and Josh Donaldson continue to show their clout in the American League. Arenado and Kris Bryant have seemingly set themselves up as contestants in the “who’s best in the National League debate” for years to come. We discussed that earlier this year in another article.

As the 2016 season winds down, however, Arenado continues to show why he is Major League Baseball’s elite man on the hot corner.

With his 40th homer on Friday night, Arenado became just the third third baseman in MLB history have multiple 40-homer seasons before turning 26. He’s also the fourth player in Colorado history to have multiple 40-homer seasons, joining a small circle that features Vinny Castilla, Andres Galarraga and Todd Helton.

Arenado joins Eddie Matthews (1953-55) and Troy Glaus (2000-01) as the only third baseman to post those kind of long ball numbers before turning 26.

“It’s elite,” Rockies manager Walt Weiss told reporters after Friday’s game. “He’s doing big-time stuff his first few years in the league. He’s special.”

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“Elite” is a solid way to describe Arenado’s 2016 season. His 40 homers lead the National League. We’ve already talked about the historical significance there. Let’s look at some other stats.

His 129 RBI is the best in all of baseball this season. According to Elias, he is the second player in the last 75 years to produce 125 or more RBI in consecutive seasons at age 25 or younger (along with Albert Pujols, 2001- 02). Don’t forget that Arenado just turned 25 on April 16. If that thought alone doesn’t make you salivate for what the rest of his career could hold, you should check your pulse.

His 112 runs scored are tied for fifth in MLB. He scored his 100th run of the season on September 2. That made him the first Rockies player since Carlos Gonzalez in 2010 (111 runs, 117 RBI) to record 100 or more runs and RBI in the same season.

He’s second in MLB in total bases with 337. He’s third in MLB in slugging percentage with a .572 mark. The offensive list could go on and on and on.

It’s incredible to think he’s building upon a magical season of 2015 where he posted 43 doubles, 42 homers and 130 RBI. Of course, the naysayers will immediately say, “Coors Field” as the reason for Arenado’s success. But is it even a factor?

Heading into Saturday’s game, Colorado has played 76 games each on the road and at home. Here are Arenado’s numbers, home versus away…

Home – 65 runs, 22 doubles, 24 homers, 83 RBI, .312 average

Away – 47 runs, 11 doubles, 16 homers, 46 RBI, .271 average

So say Coors Field elevated Arenado’s numbers? Then obviously the Rogers Centre in Toronto has done the same thing for Donaldson…

Home – 62 runs, 18 doubles, 20 homers, 56 RBI, .294 average

Away – 56 runs, 12 doubles, 16 homers, 40 RBI, .273 average

Defensively, Arenado puts on a show every night. His Range Factor is the second-highest in MLB for a third baseman at 2.96. His 12 errors (in 152 games) this season are the fewest he had since his rookie year when he posted 11 (in 130 games), boosting his fielding percentage to a career-high .974.

His WAR currently stands at 6.3, the highest of his career. It’s tracked upward every year in his first four seasons, from 3.8 to 4.1 to 5.8 to 6.3.

Arenado is being paid $5 million this season and is eligible for arbitration at season’s end. It’s likely he’ll easily double his salary heading into next season. If the Rockies are smart, they’ll offer Arenado a long-term contract and lock him up for years to come with numbers he simply can’t refuse. It’s an easy investment in one of the game’s best young players at any position … and one that Rockies fans are lucky to call their own.

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