Dodgers Vs Rockies: Who Has The Best Rookie SS in the West?
By Alex Campos
With the Dodgers and Rockies set to face off for the first time, we invited Rox Pile editor Kevin Henry to make the case for his teams rookie shortstop.
My thanks to Dodgers’ Way for working with me on this article exchange where we can each talk about the virtues of our young shortstop and why he is simply the best in the National League West.
My name is Kevin Henry and I am the new editor for Rox Pile, covering the Colorado Rockies. Colorado is my home and I have spent a lot of time at the corner of 20th and Blake, covering the Rockies over the last couple of seasons. I’ve enjoyed working with my FanSided teammates covering the Dodgers … and yes, even the Giants. We’ve had some great conversations and I’m sure there will be plenty more to come as the season wears along.
I’m looking forward to being at all three games this weekend when the Dodgers come to town for the first time this season.
I’ve had the unique pleasure of watching both Trevor Story and Corey Seager when they were at Double-A Tulsa (my old hometown), honing their crafts and preparing to burst onto the Major League Baseball scene. In case you didn’t know, Tulsa was the Double-A home of the Rockies from 2003-2014. Once the Rockies parted ways with Tulsa, that’s when the Drillers joined the Dodgers minor league family.
Covering the Drillers while I was in Tulsa, everyone knew that Seager was bound for Chavez Ravine sooner than later. The biggest news coming out of spring training when it was announced that Seager was coming to Double-A was that Drillers fans had better get to the ballpark early in the season because Seager wasn’t going to be there long. Sure enough, he lasted only 20 games.
Story, however, was different. Tulsa was a place that changed Story’s career, he would say earlier this season. Starting the 2014 season with the Drillers, Story struggled mightily under the weight of “what might be,” hitting just .200 in 56 games. We watched him in the Tulsa press box and wondered if he could turn things around. He didn’t last a full season at Double-A before he was sent back to Single-A Modesto.
That, however, is where the story of Story truly begins. Rather than lamenting his demotion, Story put in extra work on his swing and being pickier at the plate. He batted .332 the rest of the season and his rise to the Majors began.
Prior to the 2015 season, Story put in time with Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki before spring training. The work was as much mental as physical as Tulo taught Story what it would take to be an MLB shortstop.
If you look at some of Story’s mannerisms before he steps into the batter’s box, many of them resemble Tulowitzki. Story says it’s complete coincidence but also admitted that when you spend that much time training with someone, “something is going to rub off on you.”
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Suddenly in the middle of 2015, Tulo was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays. Jose Reyes, acquired from Toronto in the trade, immediately distanced himself from the Rockies by saying he didn’t want to be playing on a losing team. He further distanced himself from the Rockies this winter with an incident in Hawaii that MLB is still investigating.
With Reyes on paid leave pending the decision on his case and Tulo north of the border, the Rockies’ shortstop position was wide open in spring training. The work that Story had put in after a tough stint in Tulsa was getting ready to pay off.
When I talked to Story at spring training this year, he was fighting Daniel Descalso and Christhian Adames to not only earn the shortstop position but also a spot on the Rockies’ Opening Day roster. Story said he didn’t feel any pressure.
“I roll with (expectations). I expect the most out of myself, more than anyone else does out of me,” Story told me. “If I live up to my expectations, everything will work out.”
That’s the inner drive of Trevor Story. He has set high enough expectations for himself that he is mentally prepared for whatever might come his way.
Early this season, Story has had plenty come his way. He was just the fourth person in MLB history to win National League Player of the Week in his first week in the Majors. Heading into Wednesday’s matinee at the Cincinnati Reds, he’s the Major League leader in homers with eight and third in MLB with 14 RBI.
He’s had just one of those homers in his past seven games. So Story has already felt the roller coaster that is the national media being in love with you and then asking what’s wrong and predicting your demise. It’s a fickle game.
But there’s more to Story than just offense. His defense has been sharp and he and Nolan Arenado are making an early season case for the best left side of the infield in Major League Baseball. He is also approaching the game the right way, as Colorado manager Walt Weiss will tell anyone who asks. Story has a routine and has stuck with it, through his epic first week and the “normal” games that have followed.
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Story has already been through a lot … and he’s just 23 years old. He has a smooth swing, a quick glove, and the mentality to stay even keel through the ups and downs of a season. The future is bright, both for him and the Rockies infield, especially with Arenado and DJ LeMahieu on both sides of Story.
For those reasons, we’ll take Story over Seager in the race for best young shortstop in the National League.