Trevor Story Was Getting Even Better Before His Injury

With how well Story started, it seemed obvious that he was going to regress as the season went along. Instead, he was showing signs of improvement.

The baseball gods giveth; the baseball gods taketh away. They just didn't have to be so gosh darn cruel.

Within the span of 24 hours, we had gone through a crazy trade deadline, and teams had announced the promotions of top prospects Andrew Benintendi, Orlando Arcia, and A.J. Reed. It was an awesome time to be a baseball fan, and it looked like the next few months were going to be a ton of fun.

Then all of that happiness done got blown up.

Trevor Story -- the big-bopping rookie who brought us such great joy the first week of the year -- is now likely done for the season after saying he would, indeed, get surgery on the thumb. It may not ruin all of the previous excitement, but it certainly was a punch to the gut of people who enjoy quality baseball.

Story's injury would be upsetting enough as is, knowing we wouldn't get to see him add to his 27 home runs in 415 plate appearances.

But what makes the injury even worse? Story was getting even better in the weeks leading up to it.

Adjusting for a Weakness

Some were hesitant to fully buy into Story early in the year, and it's hard to blame them. He had a track record of high strikeout totals all throughout the minors, and he was showing flashes of the same in his opening weeks with the Rockies. That's going to put a major ding in his ceiling, so the concerns were fully justified.

It also meant, though, that if he could correct one glaring issue, he'd become even better than he already was. And based on his strikeout numbers as the year went along, it looks like that was exactly the case.

Time FrameStrikeout RateWalk RateChase Rate
April and May34.1%7.6%28.5%
June and July28.1%9.4%27.1%

By limiting the number of balls he chased outside the zone, Story was able to simultaneously reduce his strikeout rate and increase his walk rate by significant amounts. Clearly, that strikeout rate was still above average, but it's lower than guys like Chris Davis and Giancarlo Stanton, meaning he could be successful at that mark if he were making solid contact.

We know at the beginning of the season that this was absolutely the case as Story was leading the league in hard-hit rate early on. But if he sacrificed his batted-ball stats in order to improve his plate discipline, it would lower the enthusiasm around his reduced strikeout rate.

Yeah. That didn't happen.

Time FrameHard-Hit RateSoft-Hit RateFly-Ball RateLine-Drive Rate
April and May43.2%13.6%46.9%22.7%
June and July45.7%15.5%47.4%24.6%

The only area in which he didn't improve was his soft-hit rate, and it was canceled out by the jump in hard-hit rate. He was hitting fewer ground balls, only furthering his already stupid extra-base upside.

Simply put: Trevor Story was getting even better. And that only makes the timing of his injury more unfortunate.

Fantasy Implications

Story was improving during the season, and now he's done for the year. What does this mean for him in dynasty and keeper leagues?

If you don't hit up his owner right now and ask about a price, you'd be doing yourself a disservice. The inclination may be to sell high on Story, given the injury and his elevated strikeout rate. However, at the start of next year, he'll be a shortstop-eligible power hitter batting in the middle of the order for a team that plays its home games in zero gravity. That's an asset you want, even if it means you're technically buying high despite the injury.

With everything Story has working in his favor, he should enter next season as a first-round pick in re-draft leagues, barring a setback or a trade. The owner will likely ask a heavy ransom to snag him, but that's the type of asset you'll be getting in return. His value is only going to increase the closer we get to opening day next year, meaning now's the time to make your move.

Story's injury sucks -- there's no other way to put it -- but it really shouldn't dampen our enthusiasm about him going forward. He'll have a full offseason to recover, and he showed improvements during the campaign this year. If we get the same Story in 2017 that we had his final two months of 2016, he'll be worth a high pick in next year's drafts. But if he can even show the slightest bit of improvement? Look out.