Before he was hitting baseballs a mile high, before he was setting a rookie record for most consecutive games with a home run to start his career, Trevor Story was just a dude who liked queso dip and eating at Chili’s.
Now, after a torrid start to the 2016 MLB season, the Colorado Rockies rookie shortstop can no longer live in relative anonymity, and he certainly can’t stroll into a local Chili’s in Denver without being mobbed for an autograph. These things tend to happen when you bomb eight home runs in your first 13 games.
Story, who’s just 23 years old, was drafted by the Rockies in the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft, and he passed on an opportunity to attend LSU on a baseball scholarship to jump right to the majors. He quickly rose through the Rockies’ minor league system, appearing in the 2015 All-Star Futures Game as a member of the Albuquerque Isotopes, the Rockies’ Triple-A affiliate. When the Rockies traded All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to the Toronto Blue Jays at the trade deadline last season, the stage was set for Story to take over the position in 2016.
And take over, he has. Story hit two home runs off former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke in his first game, and his meteoric rise hasn’t slowed since. Most of us feel like we’re still catching up to Story’s ascension. But for one of the Rockies’ trainers, the work to make Story great began back in the off-season.
“[Story] spent his first full off-season here at the complex in Scottsdale training under our staff,” said Brian Buck, the Rockies’ physical performance coordinator. “Our program is based on quality movement first and foremost; however strength and power capabilities were addressed simultaneously. There was also a large emphasis on sprint mechanics and footwork each and every week.”
Story is already something of a weight room legend in the Rockies’ clubhouse. Bigger than the average shortstop, with shoulders as wide as the Rocky Mountains that surround his new home city, Story wowed teammates when he put up his personal best in the Deadlift during the off-season.
When told by announcers during a spring training game that word had gotten out about his work in the weight room, Story said, “Yeah, I think they’re talking about Deadlift. I put up one of my personal records in that. It got to 525 for one [rep]. I had everyone around me pumping me up, so it was a group effort.”
His leg strength has contributed mightily to Story’s 64 percent fly ball rate, meaning 64 percent of his hits are fly balls that reach the outfield. Eight of those have landed in the seats, and three of them have been absolute bombs. According to ESPN’s Home Run Tracker, Story leads the league in “No Doubt” home runs, homers that clear the wall by at least 20 feet in the air and land at least 50 feet beyond the fence. He’s also scorching balls off the bat in terms of speed, with eight of his 17 hits giving the baseball an exit velocity of 105 mph or more, according to FanGraphs.
As you can see in the above graph, most of Story’s home runs have been hit to left field, and many of them cleared the 400-foot mark.
Of course, increases jn strength don’t happen without a proper diet, and the Rockies training staff had to work with Story to cut down on all those trips to Chili’s.
“One thing I can note about Trevor was his increased awareness of his diet and food intake,” Buck said. “He really focused on his regeneration, not only from sleep, but from getting quality nutrition that was nutrient dense.”
As Story continues to build his strength and hone his diet, he may have to leave queso dip behind. Though something tells us that if he keeps up his torrid pace, Rockies fans all around Colorado will be offering to pay for his guilty pleasure for the rest of his life.