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Fans and observers of Colorado baseball have spent the past several years obsessing about the Rockies’ two marquee players. Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez have long had the potential to be one of baseball’s best duos, only they haven’t been able to stay healthy enough for that to matter.
This, in turn, has had us debating whether and when to try and trade one or both of them, given the Rockies’ perpetual cellar-dwelling status and desperate need for more talent. But each player’s contract and physical question marks have been so big that, for the time being, hanging onto them has been the team’s best and only option.
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Both men have remained pretty healthy this year, missing only 13 games so far between them. Tulowitzki has hit for average as always, albeit with a distinct lack of homerun power that might be due to his offseason hip surgery. Gonzalez started the year in a prolonged and curious slump—in that it didn’t seem injury related—but he seems to have returned to his old form in the past month.
But while our attention was fixated on Tulo and CarGo, something unexpected happened: Nolan Arenado blew past both of them.
We’ve known since he got here that the kid could play a wicked third base, one of baseball’s most severely undermanned positions in recent years. The 24-year-old Arenado has continued his stellar glovework in 2015, and now he’s added a lethal bat to his all-around game. After a ridiculously hot June—National League player of the month honors will probably come down to him or Washington’s Bryce Harper—Arenado is on pace to finish the season with 51 HR and 145 RBI. And here’s the kicker that will deflate any Coors Field criticisms: He’s been hitting better on the road than at home, in every category, all year.
Even though Arenado will be preparing for his first All Star game in a few weeks, the Rockies have continued to flounder. The contracts of Tulo and CarGo may still be too unwieldy to get much of a return in any potential deal, but there’s little doubt that the team needs to be a seller in the run up to the July 31 trading deadline. And there’s even less doubt about who the franchise cornerstone should be going forward.
Follow 5280 editor-at-large Luc Hatlestad on Twitter at @LucHatlestad.