SAN DIEGO -- Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado heads into tonight's All-Star Game presented by MasterCard with the same batting average (.287) that he had after the 2014 and '15 seasons, both All-Star campaigns. But the 25-year-old has improved his overall production this year by making a small but important adjustment.
"I'm walking a little bit," Arenado said on Monday at Petco Park, "but I think it has a lot to do with knowing the situation of the game, knowing that they might not want to pitch to me in certain situations.
"Slowing the game down has been a huge part of that."
Arenado's 9.9 percent walk rate would be a career-high, almost doubling the 5.1 percent he managed last season. The increased number of walks have come with more patience. Arenado is seeing 3.85 pitchers per plate appearance this year, compared to 3.49 last season.
With a .279 ISO and 23 home runs in 87 games, the rise in free passes hasn't impacted his power, and Arenado is on pace to have the best season of his four-year career.
Arenado said he was going to take that "slow it down" strategy into this year's All-Star Game, which begins tonight at 5:30 MT on FOX, now that he knows what the event is like.
"I think the first time I came here a little bit in shock and a little rattled, in a sense, that I couldn't believe I was here," he said. "I'm really going to take this in a little bit better this time.
"To be voted in by the players means a lot. I definitely don't take it with a grain of salt. It means a lot to me that they would vote for me and like me to be here with them. The respect they have for me, I have it for them, so it's very nice."
While Arenado has mutual respect for the players around him, the same can't be said for one of the people he flew down to San Diego with.
Carlos Gonzalez's 7-year-old son, Santiago, regularly makes sure that Arenado knows his father is the superior player.
"Yesterday we flew here together after the game and they were watching a movie next to each other, but still he always tells Nolan, 'My daddy's better than you,' and things like that," Gonzalez said, laughing. "They love each other."
Gonzalez is an All-Star for the third time in his career and he will be in the starting lineup for the third time. National League manager Terry Collins has him in the eight-spot, playing left field.
Gonzalez, also a participant in Monday's T-Mobile Home Run Derby, arrived in San Diego with plenty of fans in tow.
"[It's] Awesome," Gonzalez said. "I have a lot of family here, I have my twin daughters. I have my 7-year-old boy. I have my mom. My dad couldn't make it, but sister, brother, nieces, nephews.
"It's always fun to be around your family and have their support."
Carlos Collazo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @CarlosACollazo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.