Though they spent the 2011 season facing such NL West luminaries as Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, and, of course, Clayton Kershaw, the Colorado Rockies finished tied (with the Reds) for 2nd in the NL in runs scored, with 735. Their team OPS of .739 was good for 3rd in the NL despite the hitter-castrating parks in San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Their lineup features two MVP caliber stars in SS Troy Tulowitzki and LF Carlos Gonzalez, a borderline Hall of Fame on-base machine 1B in Todd Helton, former Red and Clutchtastic C Ramon Hernandez, and a speedy CF coming off a .360 OBP season in Dexter Fowler. Their backup 1B is Hall-of-Very-Steroidey Jason Giambi, and he's coming off a season where he slugged over .600. The two weakest links in their lineup last season were 3B's Ty Wigginton and Ian Stewart...and lo and behold, they got rid of both of them.
They got much, much older this offseason, but these dudes can hit, hit hard, and hit far.
Its as if Dan O'Dowd had Reds season tickets from 1996-2008.
2012 - Projected Lineup: Think Physical Graffiti-era Zeppelin. (Note: projections are ZiPS AVG/OBP/SLG, wOBA)
CF Dexter Fowler - Fowler is, for the most part, what Reds fans hope Drew Stubbs can be...offensively, at least. In his three full seasons with the Rockies, he's been consistently a .350 to .360 OBP guy who keeps his K/BB ratio well under 2. He stole 27 bags in his first full season, but both his total steals and success rate have declined since, and BBRef frowns on his defense to the tune of cumulative -3.0 dWAR since 2009. Regardless, he's been a solid leadoff hitter and projects to be more of the same in 2012. (.264/.360/.418, .343)
2B Marco Scutaro - Prior to age 32, Scutaro had never posted a full season fWAR above 1.9; since then, he's put up full seasons of 2.9, 4.5, and 2.9, and has done it without noticeably increasing his BABIP, K%, ISO, or (with the exception of 2008) his fielding. The real difference between his late-career surge and his mid 20's is that he's played and played often, averaging over 600 ABs per year. ZiPs sees that dropping this year, likely due to additional age, the league switch, and the position switch, but he's still projected as a solid contributor. (.280/.340/.390, .324)
LF Carlos Gonzalez - When his astronomically high .384 BABIP in 2010 dipped back to a more reasonable .326 in 2011, CarGo's overall production was in tow...though he was still a 4.1 fWAR stud. The 20/20 machine is capable of playing any of the OF positions, and is the Jimmy Page to Tulowitzki's Robert Plant. Entering year three of his 7 year, $80 million contract, there's no sign the 26 year old is slowing down: even though his BABIP declined last season, his BB% was up and his K% was down. I expect him to be a monster this year. (.294/.352/.521, .375)
SS Troy Tulowitzki - Take him first overall in your fantasy drafts. Do it. I won't even make you tell everyone I told you to...just do it. I'm not even sure positional scarcity has that much to do with it. (.294/.367/.533, .384)
1B Todd Helton - Based on the lack of support shown to Larry Walker in this year's Hall of Fame balloting, I can already tell that Helton is going to have a hell of a time getting elected, and I can also already tell it's going to piss me off. Over 7300 ABs of .323/.421/.550. Fuck off. FUCK.OFF. 37 year old humidor'd Todd Helton put up a .302/.385/.466 season last year, a 2.6 fWAR season despite not cracking 500 ABs. While his age has sapped his power, his career 14.4% BB rate is still there, making him a bitch of an out after facing two current superstars. A career .330/.470/.555 hitter with RISP, Helton will be a successfully busy man this year. (Note: since ZiPS is as defiantly pessimistic on Helton vs. other projections as on any player I've ever seen, I'm going with Bill James on this one.) (.286/.393/.435, .363....ZiPs has him at .267/.356/.402, .332...I bet ZiPS votes "No" for the HoF, too.)
RF Michael Cuddyer - Brought in as the Rockies' primary difference maker, Cuddyer will likely be in RF the majority of the season, but is capable of (read: "has played") 1B, 2B, 3B, and each OF spot in his career. While he's been a decent player for over a decade now, his defense is morbid and he's not getting any younger...so they signed him to a 3 year, $30 million contract. Wait, what? I'll admit, hitting in Target Field may have suppressed his numbers a bit, but that's the type of overpay that makes even me feel a bit less remorse in signing Ryan Ludwick. (.288/.348/.489, .363...and if Cuddyer produces that, I'll eat Fay's green hat.)
C Ramon Hernandez - Oh Monie. Please don't be clutch against us. Promise? Thanks. While I think his ability to hit to all fields will be a solid attribute in the spacious outfields of the NL West, I doubt CMM will continue to be the power threat he was with the Reds. Also, with the departure of Chris Ianetta, I get the feeling he'll be asked to catch a few more games than he did with the Reds. This feels like a broken record, as I've been expecting the inevitable decline from him for several years, but he keeps producing. Wilin Rosario will get split reps here, but he's not CMM so I'm not going to talk about him. (.279/.336/.418, .328)
3B Casey Blake - He old. He Methuselah old. He's so old, he knew Burger King when he was still a Prince. Turning 39 this season, Blake's not quite the impact player he once was. Above average defense at the hot corner coupled with solid power/OBP numbers led to him being a 2.5 to 5 WAR player for four consecutive years. Those type of numbers aren't going to happen this year. (.247/.319/.396, .310)
2012 Projected Rotation: This. Well, this plus Drew Pomeranz.
Pomeranz is a legit talent, but he's young and won't be counted on for many innings. Jhoulys Chacin showed up to camp overweight, hurt, and in the manager's doghouse, but he's been counted upon for quality innings. Jeremy Guthrie has been an average pitcher for years, but is being counted upon to be a team leading ace, opening day starter, and 200 innings eater. Juan Nicasio, Alex White, Tyler Chatwood, and Jorge de la Rosa are also in the mix for starts, but none (beyond Chatwood, perhaps) really has much to offer. I've already spent more time on this rotation than I should, but that's primarily because of Pomeranz. I'm sold on him as a future stud, but I question how much of an impact he'll have this season due to innings restrictions, youth, and Coors.
We've mentioned Clutch Man Monie, but Matt Belisle is not only still with the Rockies, he's been kicking ass and getting paid handsomely for it. His ERA+ of 158 and 138 have only backed up the 3 year, $10.5 million deal he signed before last season.
Helton, while managing 15 HRs and an OPS of .930, has actually underperformed vs. Reds pitching relative to his career averages. Tulowitzki, on the other hand, has mashed our staff to the tune of a 1.046 OPS over 102 ABs.
Drive for show, putt for dough. The Rockies will have the best offense in the NL, and their pitching will let them down. Jim Bowden will be a fan. I will go to games. I will drink Coors Banquet at those games. I will probably comment on Red Reporter threads while drinking Coors Banquet at those games. I'll say 77-85, 3rd in the NL West.