SAN DIEGO -- For Rockies' third baseman Chris Nelson, the 2012 season has been a tale of two halves. The first saw Nelson hit .255 with five homers and 23 RBI in 56 games. In just 39 second-half games, the 27-year-old already has bested that RBI total (24), has neared his home run mark (now has four), and is blowing away his first-half batting average with a .336 mark.
Those numbers, particularly the ones he's putting up this September, have Nelson in the upper echelon of third basemen throughout the league. And while he hasn't been quite on pace with the man across the diamond from him Sunday, Padres' third baseman Chase Headley, Nelson is certainly making a run at it.
Saturday's two-hit evening extended his hitting streak to seven games, tying a career high. He's hitting .519 (14 for 27) with five extra-base hits in that span, and has run his September RBI total to 12, third-most among NL third basemen.
Those second-half and September numbers are turning 2012 into the best season of Nelson's career, a tenure that includes parts of the 2010 and 2011 seasons. In a chicken-and-the-egg, which-came-first situation, Nelson says his increased production and recent offensive explosion have come from getting more consistent at-bats, which he earns as he establishes himself more and more as an offensive force.
"I've been getting a lot of at-bats lately and taking advantage of them," Nelson said. "I've just been seeing the ball well."
Interestingly, Nelson also cites the competition with fellow talented young infielders DJ LeMahieu, Josh Rutledge, and Jordan Pacheco as another part of his emergence in 2012.
"It's a lot of young guys trying to solidify themselves in a position going into next year, hopefully I'm one of those guys heading into Spring Training," Nelson said. "I think competition makes everybody better. It's good for me and good for the team."
With 95 games under his belt this year, Nelson has already played 32 more games than he did in 2011, and certainly looks to be finding a home at third. If he does, and therefore gets even more consistent time in 2013, he believes he can continue to put up the kind of numbers he's produced in the second half.
"That's definitely the plan," Nelson said.