At 26-years-old, Nolan Arenado has already developed into a superstar in Major League Baseball.
He has made two consecutive National League All-Star teams. He has won back-to-back National League Silver Slugger awards at third base.
Arenado has finished eighth and fifth respectively in the voting for National League MVP each of the last two seasons. During both of those campaigns, he paced the league in both home runs and RBI with 42 bombs and 130 RBI in 2015 and 41 homers with 133 driven in a year ago.
He's also a world-class defender, capturing National League Gold Glove awards in each of his first four big league seasons.
One thing that he had yet to do during his major league career though, was hit for the cycle.
That would change in epic fashion on Sunday. Arenado got the hardest part of the accomplishment out of the way early on, going the opposite way for a two-out triple in the first inning.
His next trip to the plate in the fourth inning, Arenado slashed another Ty Blach offering into right field, this time for a single. In the sixth inning, he victimized Blach by crushing a run-scoring double into the gap in left-center field. That put the Rockies on the board and pulled them to within a run at 2-1.
The Rockies would go on to take a 3-2 lead in the seventh inning where Trevor Story and Chris Valaika each swatted solo home runs. That's when Arenado strode to the plate against George Kontos looking to complete the cycle and extend the Rockies' lead. Unfortunately, he would go down swinging.
It didn't even look as through Arenado would get another crack at it, as the Rockies carried that 3-2 lead into the ninth inning. The Giants had some fight in them though, not wanting to drop all four games of the weekend set against the Rockies. Hunter Pence launched a two-run homer off of Jake McGee to give the Giants a 4-3 lead and Brandon Crawford tacked on an RBI double, giving them a 5-3 advantage going to the bottom half of the inning.
Arenado was set to bat fifth in the inning, so the Rockies would have to put two men on base at a minimum against Giants' closer Mark Melancon in order to give him a shot at history Tony Wolters grounded out to start the inning.
Raimel Tapia then fouled off a pair of two-strike pitches before singling into right-center. The next hitter, Charlie Blackmon, also went to a two-strike count and spoiled a pitch foul before he singled to center, putting the tying runs on base.
D.J. LeMahieu quickly fell behind 0-2 in the next at bat before he lined a run-scoring single into right field that pulled the Rockies to within a run and brought Arenado back to the dish.
Everyone knew what was going to happen next.
On the first pitch that he saw from Melancon, Arenado crushed a walk-off three-run homer to left field, completing the cycle and propelling the Rockies to a win, and a four-game sweep over their division rival.
It was the second walk-off homer in what's shaping up to be an exceptional career. Arenado admitted after the game that the three-run walk-off home to complete the cycle is the favorite moment in his career to date.
As far as the Rockies go, the victory was their fifth straight and keeps them atop the National League West at a mighty impressive 46-26 record. They'll get a day to rest and celebrate their four-game weekend sweep before beginning a critical set against the Diamondbacks on Tuesday. The upstart D'Backs sit just a game behind the Rockies in the standings.
LoMo Keeps Mashing
With power numbers up across the league again this season, there are unfamiliar names bashing home runs in droves and finding themselves atop the leader boards.
One of the more surprising cases is Rays' slugger Logan Morrison.
The 29-year-old clubbed 23 home runs over 123 games with the Marlins in 2011, but aside from that hadn't hit more than 17 in a season in his career. He slashed just .238/.319/.414 with 14 long balls and 43 RBI over 398 plate appearances with the Rays in 2016.
He wound up re-signing with the Rays this offseason to a one-year, $2.5 million contract because he couldn't find a better opportunity on the open market. The plan coming into the season was for him to serve as the club's primary first baseman against right-handed pitching.
He has already obliterated all expectations from a power perspective.
Morrison blasted a pair of homers in Sunday's lopsided victory over the Tigers, giving him 21 on the season in only 272 plate appearances. He's slashing .245/.353/.572 and has already driven in 47 runs, which is already the third-highest total of his career.
He's making an absurd amount of hard contact at the moment (42.6%) and has an off-the-charts HR/FB ratio of 25.0%. Expect both numbers to tick down a bit as the season progresses, but Morrison should still be an asset in mixed leagues.
With the Rays not in the playoff picture this season and Morrison set to hit the open market again at season's end, he may make for a very attractive trade chip come deadline time. Not many contenders looking to upgrade at the deadline have full-time vacancies at first base though, so his fantasy value could take a hit from a drop in at-bats if he is indeed dealt.
End of Arroyo?
Reds' right-hander Bronson Arroyo hinted after getting walloped by the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon that he is considering retirement.
While it's admirable that the 40-year-old right-hander was able to make a comeback to the big leagues this season after a pair of Tommy John surgeries and two full seasons of being away from the game, the results speak for themselves.
In 14 starts this season, Arroyo owns a gruesome 7.35 ERA, 1.59 WHIP and 45/19 K/BB ratio across 71 innings. His average fastball is sitting at just 84.1 MPH and he isn't generating nearly enough swings and misses to survive at the big league level.
With the Reds' expecting to get Homer Bailey and Brandon Finnegan back in the upcoming weeks, it's highly likely that Arroyo would be pushed out anyways simply due to poor performance. It sounds as though there's an injury issue at play as well though.
Arroyo admitted after Sunday's start that his should has been "barking" for awhile now. Sounding dejected in a postgame interview, he elaborated "The elbow -- Tommy John [surgery] is like a chain out on a bicycle. It doesn't matter how bad the chain is, if the rest of the bike is OK, you change out the chain and you continue to move forward, but a shoulder is more like your favorite shirt you've been wearing for the last 15 years and it's been washed too many times. So it gets brittle, right?... Right now, it's not going to work anymore. I don't know if we have any more options. We'll see."
Arroyo and Reds' manager Bryan Price both said that they would meet Sunday evening to discuss the next step. There's a strong likelihood that Arroyo has thrown his final pitch in the big leagues.
Arroyo was a third round selection in the 1995 draft and broke in with the Pirates during the 2000 season. He pitched three seasons each for the Pirates and Red Sox before joining the Reds in 2006. It's there that his career took off, going 105-94 with a 4.05 ERA over 265 starts from 2006=2013. During that stretch, he won 14 or more games five times, made an All-Star team in 2006 and snagged a Gold Glove in 2010. He also won a World Series as a member of the 2004 Red Sox.
If he does indeed hang it up, it would come as a disappointment to daily fantasy players who enjoy stacking against the right-hander each time he takes the hill, especially in Cincinnati.
While he's not going out on top of his game, at least it would be on his own terms rather than succumbing to Tommy John surgery and never making it back.
American League Quick Hits: Xander Bogaerts blasted a pair of home runs and drove in four on Sunday night, powering the Red Sox to a 6-5 victory over the Astros... Salvador Perez went 3-for-5 with a three-run bomb as the Royals topped the Angels... Jason Vargas earned his 10th victory of the season with a quality start against the Angels. He owns a terrific 2.27 ERA and 1.13 WHIP on the season... Kyle Seager went 3-for-5 with three doubles as the Mariners beat the Rangers... Carlos Gomez homered again in Sunday's loss to the Mariners and has driven in eight in three games since returning from the disabled list... Edwin Encarnacion left the yard twice and drove in all five Indians' runs in a victory over the Twins...Trevor Bauer fanned eight over seven innings of two-run ball in a win there... Steven Souza Jr. launched a grand slam as the Rays routed the Tigers in Motown... Jacob Faria racked ups nine strikeouts while surrendering just one run over seven innings in a win against the Tigers... Trey Mancini homered and tripled in a win over the Cardinals. He's slashing an impressive .310/.352/.576 with 12 homers and 38 RBI... Kendrys Morales slugged his 15th homer as the Blue Jays beat the White Sox... Cole Hamels (oblique) is expected to make his final minor league rehab start on Wednesday... Felix Hernandez (shoulder) will rejoin the Mariners' rotation on Friday against the Astros... Yankees' top prospect Gleyber Torres was placed on the disabled list at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre with a hyperextended left elbow. He sustained the injury while diving head first into home plate on Saturday. X-rays came back negative, but there's still no clear timetable for his return at the moment.
National League Quick Hits: Former Rockies' catcher Wilin Rosario had himself quite the weekend for the Hanwha Eagles of the Korean Baseball Organization, blasting eight home runs over a three-game weekend set against the KT Wiz. Eight. He finished the weekend 9-for-15 (.600/.647/2.200). I don't care what league that's in, it's mighty impressive. Given the success that Eric Thames has had in his transition back from the KBO, Rosario is the type of player who could generate interest over the offseason... Jimmy Nelson pitched the first complete game of his big league career on Sunday, allowing just one unearned run on six hits while striking out 10 in a win over the Padres... Kenley Jansen worked a scoreless inning to secure his 15th save. He now boasts a jaw-dropping 50/0 K/BB ratio in 29 2/3 innings... Justin Turner clobbered a three-run homer in a victory over the Brewers... Eduardo Nunez missed his third consecutive game with a hamstring injury, though he still doesn't appear to be a threat to go on the disabled list... Hunter Pence swatted a pinch-hit, go-ahead two-run homer in the ninth inning against the Rockies... Reymond Fuentes socked a go-ahead solo homer in the 10th inning to beat the Phillies... Brandon Phillips came through with a walkoff RBI single in the ninth inning on Sunday, the second straight day that Phillips has delivered a walkoff winner for the Braves... Anthony Rizzo went 3-for-5 with another home run as he continues to excel a the Cubs' leadoff hitter... Marcell Ozuna blasted his 18th homer in a losing effort there... Trea Turner swiped a franchise-record four bases in a loss to the Mets... Jacob deGrom allowed just one unearned run over eight innings and clubbed a solo home run as the Mets defeated the Nationals.. Stephen Piscotty homered twice in a losing effort against the Orioles... Dodgers claimed Peter O'Brien off of waivers from the Rangers.