Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado is going to play a large role in determining the fate of the San Francisco Giants over the next two days, beginning with Wednesday Night Baseball (10 ET, ESPN). He has been one of the most fearsome players on both sides of the ball in another remarkable season.
Arenado has 40 home runs and 129 RBIs and has a chance to be the first player to lead his league in home runs and RBIs in consecutive seasons since Cecil Fielder in 1990 and 1991. No National Leaguer has done it since another third baseman, Mike Schmidt in 1980 and 1981.
Arenado might just be the next Schmidt. He needs one RBI to become the fifth player with multiple 40-homer, 130-RBI seasons before turning 27 since RBIs became official in 1920. The others are Jimmie Foxx, Alex Rodriguez, Chuck Klein and Babe Ruth.
Arenado has 19 home runs in 67 games against the Giants, tied for the third-most home runs against them among active players. The two players ahead of him, Matt Kemp with 23 and Carlos Gonzalez with 21, have each played 169 games against the Giants.
His 8 home runs, 21 RBIs and 15 runs scored at AT&T Park over the last two seasons are the most by a visiting player. The next-most RBIs by a visiting player in that span belong to Paul Goldschmidt, with 10.
Arenado got off to a fast start against the Giants this season, hitting .367 with four home runs and 21 RBIs in his first 12 games against them. But he has only one RBI in his last five games against them.
How do you get him out?
Arenado is a man of few weaknesses. He's hitting/slugging .284/.591 against fastballs, sinkers and cutters, .295/.523 against breaking balls, .322/.593 against changeups. So the goal is more "keep him in the ballpark" than anything else.
To do that, the key is pitch location, as the heat map below shows. Your best bet for limiting damage is to keep the ball as far away from him as possible. He is the best slugger in baseball against inside pitches.
It's also worth pointing out that though Coors Field inflates his numbers a bit, Arenado does have 16 home runs and a .490 slugging percentage on the road this season. His power plays outside of Coors Field.
And if he's not hitting, he can still beat you with his defense
Arenado leads the National League with 20 defensive runs saved this season, good for the third-most in all of baseball. His 84 runs saved are the most for any third baseman in the last seven seasons (and Arenado has only played in four of them).
Arenado is likely to win his fourth straight Gold Glove. Elias Sports Bureau research notes that only Arenado and Ichiro Suzuki have won Gold Gloves in each of their first three seasons.
It seems unlikely that Arenado could win the MVP, given the performance of Kris Bryant, Daniel Murphy and Corey Seager. But he could be the first Rockies player to finish in the top three in the voting since Carlos Gonzalez in 2010.