Stats & Info: Nolan Arenado

Dominant Rockies: Tulo, Arenado, Lyles

May, 6, 2014
May 6

Troy Tulowitzki is almost impossible to get out at home.
Sunday we told you what’s to like about the San Francisco Giants as they try to unseat the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West.

This time, we’ll tell you what’s to like most about the Colorado Rockies, or the three things to like most from Monday’s rout of the Texas Rangers.

Troy Tulowitzki is in a zone
On the day shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was named NL player of the month and NL player of the week, he added two more home runs to his ledger, giving him nine for the season.
Troy Tulowitzki
More amazingly, he was able to raise his batting average at Coors Field this season from .591 to .596 and raise his RBI total to 21 in 14 games. He’s now 28-for-47 at home, including 15-for-18(!) with four home runs with men on base.

The Elias Sports Bureau notes that the .596 batting average is the highest by any player in his first 14 home games of a season (minimum 40 plate appearances) in baseball's modern era (since 1900).

Tulowitzki has taken 91 swings at home this season. They’ve resulted in 28 hits and as many extra-base hits (12) as swings and misses.

Nolan Arenado is, too
It would seem odd that a player with a 25-game hitting streak isn’t the hottest hitter on his team, but that’s the case for third baseman Nolan Arenado.

Arenado pulled to within two games of the Rockies' record for longest hitting streak (held by Michael Cuddyer), extending his streak to 25 games with a second-inning home run.
Nolan Arenado

Arenado is hitting .354 (35-for-99) during the hitting streak. Perhaps more impressive is that he has a higher batting average on the road this season (.338) than he has at Coors Field (.290).

Monday’s home run came on a 93 mph pitch in the lower half of the strike zone from Martin Perez.

Arenado already has three homers on lower-half pitches this season. He had only four on the 1,019 pitches he saw in that area in 2013.

Jordan Lyles solves Coors Field
Rockies starter Jordan Lyles had his third straight really good start at home, allowing two runs in eight innings. He’s now 2-0 with a 1.25 ERA in three home starts in 2014.
Jordan Lyles

Lyles is the second pitcher in Rockies history to start his time with the team with three straight home starts in which he allowed two earned runs or fewer in at least six innings pitched, joining Joe Kennedy (2004).

Lyles has tamed the ballpark by inducing ground balls. He has nearly identical ground-ball rates at home (54 percent) and on the road (53 percent). Opponents are 3-for-36 when hitting a grounder against him at Coors Field this season, including 1-for-13 in each of his past two starts.

NL Defensive MVP? Simmons/Arenado lead

September, 6, 2013

Daniel Shirey/Getty ImagesAndrelton Simmons has been super-solid for the Braves this season.
If you were going to pick the NL’s Defensive MVP for 2013, much like for the overall award, there is one candidate who stands above the rest.

Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons is going to break the single-season record for most Defensive Runs Saved (definition here). He’s currently at 38 Defensive Runs Saved. Baseball Info Solutions has charted that stat since 2003 and no player previously finished with more than the 35 Brett Gardner had in 2010.

Simmons has twice been named Sweet Spot’s Defensive Player of the Month and was runner-up for that selection in August. He has more than twice as many runs saved as the next-closest shortstop (Pedro Florimon of the Minnesota Twins with 16) and has more than three times as many as the nearest NL shortstop had entering Friday (Clint Barmes, 11). No other Braves player has more than 16.

What Simmons does best is not just make the difficult play, but make the routine one as well. The left side of the Braves infield has been in vacuum mode all season. Opposing hitters are reaching base only 21.6 percent of the time on ground balls hit to the left of the second-base bag. That’s the lowest success rate in the majors. And let’s remember what Simmons replaced when he came up last season—Taylor Pastornicky, who had -15 Defensive Runs Saved in only 330 innings.

As we noted: There is a considerable statistical gap between Simmons and the next-best NL defender. That gap exists at one other position of note, third base. Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado would be the runaway NL Defensive Rookie of the Year if such an award existed. His 30 Defensive Runs Saved are 20 more than anyone else in the league.

Nolan Arenado
Arenado is one Defensive Run Saved shy of Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado for the major league lead at the hot corner. Machado gets a lot of national press for his glovework, but Arenado has been similarly good. He leads all third baseman in the Baseball Info Solutions-tracked “Good Fielding Plays” (think: plays that are Web Gem nominees) and ranks second to Machado in Baseball Tonight with 11 Web Gems (Machado had 16).

There are a number of other players who have had fine defensive seasons on non-contenders and teams that are fading out of contention, most notably Carlos Gomez from the Milwaukee Brewers and Gerardo Parra from the Diamondbacks. The next-highest rated defender among those players on contending teams is Russell Martin (whom Dave Cameron is profiling today for ESPN Insider).

Martin ranks second among catchers with 14 Defensive Runs Saved, trailing only Wellington Castillo of the Chicago Cubs, who has 18. Martin doesn’t have quite the arm of Yadier Molina (who also has legitimacy with 10 Defensive Runs Saved), but he’s having his best year at throwing runners out, nailing 33 of 76 attempting to steal (43 percent) and picking off three others.

Starling Marte
Martin’s teammate, Starling Marte also could make a case. He leads all leftfielders with 20 Defensive Runs Saved this season, a total that got a nice early boost from a pair of early-season homer robberies. He’s rated best in the majors at his position in chasing down balls hit to the deepest part of the ballpark.

The Reds and Dodgers don’t have any candidates that would necessarily be standouts in a defensive MVP competition. The Reds top candidate is rightfielder Jay Bruce, who has rebounded from a pair of below-average (stat-wise) defensive seasons to lead his team with 14 Defensive Runs Saved (tied for fourth among NL players at that position).

The Dodgers have a host of defenders who rate well, with first baseman Adrian Gonzalez ranking best relative to his position (10 Defensive Runs Saved, third-best in the National League). Another player deserving of props: utility man Nick Punto, whose 10 Defensive Runs Saved tie Juan Uribe, Gonzalez and Puig for the Dodgers lead.

Therein lies the difference been MVP and Defensive MVP. Punto is unlikely to ever be mentioned in any MVP conversation at any point.

For more NL MVP info, see Jerry Crasnick's article from earlier today.