SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Opposing hitters who aspire to success against the Colorado Rockies might be wise to keep the ball away from the left side of the field.
Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and left fielder Carlos Gonzalez have combined for five career Gold Glove awards, and Nolan Arenado, quickly gaining a reputation as a steel trap at third base, joined the club by winning a Gold Glove as a rookie last season. In the Fielding Bible rankings, Arenado posted a defensive runs saved of plus-36, second only to Baltimore's Manny Machado at his position.
Now Arenado, 22, is in camp with a specific goal in mind: He wants people to take notice of his bat as well as his glove.
"I want to be the complete player," Arenado said. "I don't want to be a guy who's just known for his defense. I want to be a guy who's known for his overall game."
Arenado hit .267 with 10 home runs and a .706 OPS to finish seventh in National League Rookie of the Year balloting. He logged a .793 OPS at Coors Field compared to .619 on the road, and hit .244 before the All-Star Game before rebounding to hit .298 after the break.
In hindsight, Arenado encountered some typical rookie minefields. He got a little overanxious at the plate and was caught out on his front foot too often. He also let the pitcher dictate the tone of the at-bat and routinely found himself on the defensive.
"His at-bats just got away from him, where he was jumping out there and firing and chasing pitches," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "He struggled with slowing down an at-bat. But he's a very good hitter and I think he's going to play in multiple All-Star Games. I think he's going to be an impact offensive player. He has that ability."
Arenado shows enough pop in batting practice that the Rockies think he's capable of hitting 15-20 homers a season. After flying blind for much of his rookie year, he has studied enough film and compiled enough of a book on pitchers to have a more polished approach at the plate.
"I think sometimes we give these pitchers a little too much credit, but they're also really good too," Arenado said. "I got myself in trouble last year by being tentative and thinking too much instead of just going with my instincts and looking to hit the ball hard. That's when I'm at my best."