Trevor Story was never expected to become a household name. But after having the best start that a rookie has ever had in the Big Leagues, with record-breaking seven home runs in the first six games of the MLB season, Story is a rookie legend. The 23 year-old Colorado Rockies shortstop, after tallying six home runs during Spring Training, and in light of veteran Jose Reyes’s domestic violence charges, was given a starting spot on Opening Day. Story hit two home runs on Opening Day, hit one more the next day, another the next day, two homers the next day, had a “bad day,” and then hit one more—giving him a record total of seven home runs over his first six career games.
Story averaged 16 home runs throughout his four seasons in the Minor Leagues, and nobody expected his power to explode once he reached the Majors. Story currently has more home runs than 16 entire teams. On Sunday, Story broke the record for most home runs hit in the first six games of the season. The previous record of six home runs was shared by Mike Schmidt, Larry Walker, and Willie Mays. Story also became the fifth player with homers in each of his team’s first four games—he joined Mark McGwire, Willie Mays, Nelson Cruz, and Chris Davis.
Story is now on pace to hit 189 home runs this season. Obviously, his streak is not sustainable, although he could challenge the record for most home runs in the month of April, shared by Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols. A-Rod and Pujols slugged 14 April home runs in 2007 and 2006, respectively. Story has had a high strikeout rate in the past, and has a below-average contact rate. In addition, his extremely high numbers in some categories simply are not sustainable— for example, 53.8% of Story’s fly balls go for home runs thus far; the record is 39.5%, set by Ryan Howard. Story’s fly ball to home run ratio is sure to fall. There are promising signs of continued power, however. Story’s seven homers come on a variety of pitches and locations—he has hit five different pitches for home runs, and these have come on inside, outside, and zone pitches. Story has been hitting everything. So, there is still a solid chance that Story can continue his torrid streak for a while longer, and perhaps have a few dozen home runs at the season’s end.
Ultimately, however, there is no way to predict where Story’s season will end up. He may have already hit half of his season home run total, or he may hit 30 or 40 more home runs—there is no way to tell. There have been some very impressive rookie seasons over the years. In 2001, Albert Pujols batted .329 with 37 homers and 130 RBI. Mark McGwire set the rookie home run record with 49 blasts in 1987. One of baseball’s greatest hitters, Ted Williams, batted .327 with 31 homers in his rookie season. In 2001, Ichiro Suzuki hit .350, and received the Silver Slugger, AL Rookie of the Year, and MVP Awards. Most rookie seasons are not as impressive, and many seem to weaken over the course of the season—last year, for example, Joc Pederson of the Dodgers slugged 20 homers before the All-Star Break, but hit only 6 more over the rest of the season.
Although we cannot expect Trevor Story to hit 189 homers this year, we can still keep an eye out for a historic rookie season. It is unlikely that Story’s magic will last for the rest of the season, but it has been done in the past, and so we should keep our eyes on Trevor Story as he enters his second week of big league play.