Arenado, Blackmon share most valuable bond

Arenado, Blackmon share most valuable bond

DENVER -- When Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado and center fielder Charlie Blackmon are seated, table for two, the conversation usually bends toward hitting, and the arc is like many of their hits -- high, deep and beyond reach of most players.

"I've connected well with him," Arenado said. "He loves talking baseball. He loves trying to get better. So do I. We have that in common. We go to dinner all the time on the road and we talk all the time about the game, hitting, his approach. He'll ask me what I saw and just little things like that."

It's not just what they see. The talk goes much deeper. As Blackmon puts it, "It's not just, 'What do you do in a 2-0 count?' It's his thought process. I like to know what he's thinking."

Rockies fans would love to imagine the National League Most Valuable Player Award as the centerpiece at the table. It could belong to Blackmon, who won his first NL batting title with a .330 average and set a Major League record with 103 leadoff RBIs (of his 104 total). It could be Arenado's, since his 130 RBIs made him the first third baseman in NL history to drive in that many for a third consecutive year. Heck, why not have it belong to both, since they knocked a matching 37 homers and were catalysts for a Rockies club that will appear in the NL Wild Card Game.

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Oct. 4 D-backs 11, Rockies 8 WATCH

Of course, there could merely be flowers. Baseball Writers' Association of America voters could go with the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton, with 59 home runs, or last year's choice, the Cubs' Kris Bryant, or the D-backs' Paul Goldschmidt among candidates -- with Arenado and Blackmon splitting Rockies-inclined voters.

"Honestly, [the media] might probably know more about that than me," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "I hope that doesn't happen. They're both deserving."

Arenado bats and throws right, while Blackmon comes from the other side. Arenado is a feared defender, Blackmon a baserunner whose skill puts runs on the board. They're different, yet connected in ways that matter.

"He never gives an at-bat away," Arenado said. "That's what I've learned from Charlie. I feel like that's why I've gotten better this year. He never gives an at-bat away. It doesn't matter the score. That's huge. Sometimes, when you get a couple hits you're like, 'I'm all right.' He wants more, and more and more. That's the way I am now."

Blackmon's deep-center vantage point allows him to see how Arenado's glove magic affects the entire game.

"He brings an intensity and competitiveness that every player should aspire to have," Blackmon said. "It's easy to rub off on guys. Hopefully, it's rubbed off on me a little bit."

They're close enough that their parents and families are friends. No wonder they stump for each other.

"Nolan is the epitome of the MVP," Blackmon said. "He plays every day. He's an unbeleivable defender. He's the guy that hits in the heart of the order. He's the guy that the other team has to game plan around. I guess that means we're doing something right."

Arenado said there's no room for jealousy.

"I know [Blackmon]'s had an MVP-type season; he deserves all the credit and praise," Arenado said. "I'm so happy for him. I get questions like, 'Would you be mad if Charlie won it over you?' I'm like, 'Dude. No. I'm so proud of him.' And this is what it's about. It's about these moments."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.