Originally published in The Fordham Ram on April 13, 2016.
I didn’t want to title this column “Story Time.” But sometimes these things just get handed to you on a silver platter, and not using the pun would be a disservice to the man.
It’s certainly a fitting name as his exploits sound like a myth: a previously unknown 23-year-old with a name that captures the imagination is playing up in the mountains and almost exclusively hitting rainmakers and moonshots. He sounds like a character in a Matt Christopher book.
Trevor Story’s skills are captivating. As of Monday, April 11, he has nine hits: two singles and seven home runs. This is in six games, which also happen to be the first six games of his major league career. To put that into context, I defer to Ryan Spaeder (@theaceofspaeder on Twitter, an incredible baseball stats account): “He has reached seven homers twice as fast as any player in history.” Forget joining the 3000 hit or the 500 home run club – the most elite company is when you stand all alone.
Story virtually came out of nowhere. According to Baseball America, he was the 96th best prospect in 2013, and he did not crack the MLB.com rankings at any time. He was ranked the 11th prospect in the Rockies system coming into the season.
The story (man, this guy’s name is a problem) behind his climb to the majors is improbable. When he was signed as a compensatory pick in 2011, incumbent shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was the face of the Rockies franchise and it seemed like he would be a Colorado lifer. Over the next few seasons, he would be plagued by injuries, and also made a lot of noise about wanting to move to a more competitive club.
He was finally moved before the trade deadline last season to the Toronto Blue Jays. “Oh, so that’s how Story got his job?” Nope. The story (ugh) gets even more complicated. Toronto sent shortstop Jose Reyes to the Rockies as part of the deal, filling the slot for the time being. While the common theory was that the Rockies would try to flip Reyes as well, it never happened.
But on Oct. 31, Reyes was arrested for allegedly assaulting his wife. The MLB almost immediately suspended Reyes indefinitely, pending resolution of his court case in order to determine his official suspension. While the charges were recently dropped, Reyes remains suspended, so it was out of necessity that Story was slotted into the Opening Day lineup.
Will Story hit 189 home runs this season, as he is currently on pace to do? I don’t see it happening. While regressing to the mean is expected, don’t be surprised if it hits a little harder for Story. His lack of other hits is concerning, as are his eight strikeouts.
But every good story is about the journey, not the destination. Watching an unheralded rookie hit well enough to send his batting helmet to Cooperstown after six career games is fun enough. If he ends up the next great home run hitter, it will be one of the more unexpected career arcs of all time.