Rockies given new power source with Trevor Story’s historic start
The 2015 season is only a few days old, but already we’ve got one impressive first. With two homers on Monday and one apiece on Tuesday and Wednesday, Rockies shortstop Trevor Story has become the first player in major league history to homer in each of his first three games. All four homers came against the Diamondbacks at Chase Field, a hitter-friendly environment whose altitude (1,082 feet above sea level) is second only to Coors Field among major league parks, which didn’t hurt Story’s cause.
With the homers in three straight games, Story separated himself from a pack of 19 other players since 1913 who homered in their first two games. That group includes one Hall of Famer (Earl Averill for the Indians in 1929), one Rockies icon who may wind up in Cooperstown (Todd Helton in 1997) and one player who did so last year (Joey Gallo for the Rangers). Story also became the first player to hit a total of four homers in his first three games, distancing himself from a trio of other players, namely the Cardinals’ Joe Cunningham (1954) and current Cubs Javier Baez and Jorge Soler (both in 2014). Via the Elias Sports Bureau, Story is the first player since 1900 whose first four major league hits were all homers.
The 23-year-old Story, a 2011 supplemental first-round pick who last year hit .279/.350/.514 with 20 homers split between Double A Tulsa and Triple A Albuquerque, probably wouldn’t have made the Rockies’ roster out of spring training had Troy Tulowitzki not been traded to the Blue Jays last summer and his replacement, Jose Reyes, been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of a domestic violence-related investigation. Not only did those things come to pass but Daniel Descalso, who was in the mix to open the season at shortstop for the Rockies, suffered a fracture in his left hand in mid-March, while Story, whom some talent hounds felt could’ve used more minor league seasoning, had an impressive enough spring to win the job.
This particular Story story began on Opening Day at Chase Field against the Diamondbacks’ flu-ridden Zack Greinke, who served up the shortstop’s three-run blast in the third and his solo shot in the fourth as part of a seven-run deluge in Colorado’s 10–5 win. Here’s the pair of homers:
On Tuesday, Story went deep against the Diamondbacks’ other marquee off-season addition, Shelby Miller. Deep as in 433 feet, according to StatCast:
That solo homer helped the Rockies begin to turn a 2–0 deficit into a 6–2 lead, but the Diamondbacks wound up piling on nine unanswered runs of their own en route to an 11–6 win. On Wednesday, Story teed off on Patrick Corbin for a two-run homer in the Rockies’ 4–3 win:
As you can see from the lists above, Story's early-season barrage doesn’t necessarily herald greatness (ask Yankees fans about Joe Lefebvre or Red Sox fans about Sam Horn). The outburst comes just as questions about Reyes’s future are coming into focus. The 32-year-old shortstop was arrested in Maui last Halloween and charged with domestic abuse, as his wife reportedly suffered injuries to her neck, face and leg. Reyes pled not guilty, was placed on leave in late February to keep him away from spring training and was scheduled to go to trial on April 4 (Opening Day), after which commissioner Rob Manfred was expected to hand down a suspension. On March 30, Maui prosecutors dropped the charges because Reyes’s wife would no longer cooperate.
MLB’s new policy allows Manfred to impose punishment on Reyes even without a conviction, as he did in the case of Aroldis Chapman, who received a 30-game suspension for a case in which no charges were actually filed. The two cases differ significantly in that Chapman’s case included a report of him firing a gun several times in his garage (not at his girlfriend, thankfully) but not enough evidence to arrest him or charge him with a crime, whereas Reyes’s case produced enough evidence for both arrest and trial. Given that Manfred has yet to issue a ruling but that Opening Day has passed, it’s safe to say that some kind of suspension is still coming, and that it will be retroactive to cover the games that take place in the interim.
The Rockies owe Reyes $22 million apiece for this year and next plus a $4 million buyout of his 2018 club option, though whatever suspension he receives will cut into this year's salary. At some point, they’ll either have to find a spot for both him and Story in the lineup or swallow a significant chunk of that remaining salary to trade him or even release him. In the meantime, however, a lineup that’s been shorn of significant contributors like Tulowitzki and Corey Dickerson has a new power source. What a Story...