DENVER - In an announcement that came as a bit of a shock, at least to this Colorado Rockies beat reporter, Nolan Arenado has been named by the BBWAA as a finalist for the National League's Most Valuable Player along with Christian Yelich, outfielder for the Milwaukee Brewers, and Javier Baez, infielder for the Chicago Cubs.
Arenado slashed .297/.374/.561 with 38 home runs and 110 RBI and just won his sixth consecutive Gold Glove. Interestingly enough, he told reporters after the final game of the NLDS that he didn't feel he was as consistent or reliable with runners on base as he was in years past. He also wasn't quite as good defensively, though he is asked to jump over an awfully high bar at this point.
So, in what could be described as a relative "down year" he will finish higher in MVP voting than he ever has, topping out at fourth place in 2017.
Furthermore, this comes when many in the local sphere (including myself) thought that shortstop Trevor Story might have just as strong an argument for this placement considering he was a bit more consistent, plays a premium position, brings the speed element, and didn't have the major struggles at the plate in pivotal late-season games the way Arenado did.
At the very least, it would seem likely that the two might "split votes" the way it was argued a year ago that Arenado did with Charlie Blackmon.
But none of that seems to have mattered likely due in large part to the shine that has come to the Rockies franchise. It has been easier in the past to overlook the accomplishments of players like Arenado but now that he plays on a team that has made the postseason two years in a row, and just knocked out the Chicago Cubs in primetime in one of the more exciting Wild Card games in recent memory, the voters can no longer treat Colorado as an afterthought.
And for that, Arenado truly does deserve the bulk of the credit.
Other than walking a bit more in 2018, he has been statistically better across the board in each of the last three years, but he has also emerged now not just as a pillar of the Colorado Rockies franchise, but of Major League Baseball. While one could squabble over the details, Nolan Arenado has clearly earned the right to be recognized as one of the NL's very best.