Getting better with age in Colorado; battling the shift
I’ve mentioned how Bryant improved after just one season, but what about Arenado? After a sub par rookie season, Arenado hit 18 home runs and finished with 61 RBI his sophomore season. They’re not mind-boggling numbers, but they are productive.
He slashed .287/.323/.500, marking new career-highs. Over the last two-plus seasons, Arenado’s WAR skyrocketed from 2.9 in 2014 to 4.5, and eventually, 5.2.
His hard contact rate improved every season he’s been in the big leagues and the power numbers show. While he’s pulling the ball more than going to up the middle or to the opposite field, he still does all three enough to where the infield shift doesn’t exactly help the defense every single time if they set up in it.
Using the whole field
Like mentioned above, Bryant’s strikeouts have decreased since his rookie season. This season, his strikeout rate is down below 20 percent to 19.8 percent. That’s a big improvement in a year and a half. Another improvement is his walk rate, which is up to 15.9 percent compared to 10.7 percent last season. He’s also made a point to use the entire field more regularly.
In 2016, Bryant hit the baseball to the opposite field 19.7 percent of the time. This season, it’s up to 24.6 percent and his pull rate went from 46.7 percent to 39.8 percent. Why is this important? We live in an era where the infield shift is vastly popular.