2012 Outlook: Colorado Rockies

The Rockies are coming off a disappointing seasons where they only won 72 games. In terms of offense and pitching they were in the middle of the pack. Troy Tulowitzki is coming off one of his best seasons as a pro, and Carlos Gonzalez was impactful as well. The Rockies traded starting pitcher Ubaldo Jiminez got traded halfway through the year for some top minor league arms.

Troy Tulowitzki continued right where he left off from in 2010, his .302/.372/.544 line, 138 wRC+ made for a fantastic offensive year. Defensively he posted an above average 7.3 UZR. Putting all of those factors together you get 6.3 WAR, putting Tulowitzki in the top 15 for position players. Finding a shortstop who is a legit offensive threat and playes good defense is hard to come by. Fortunately for the Rockies, they have just that. Shortstop will be played by newcomer Marco Scutaro. Since 2008 Scutaro has been a fine shortstop. During that time-frame he has averaged 3.1 WAR. He doesn’t offer great defense, but he can be a positive contributor on offense.

Potential hall of famer Todd Helton will continue to be the first basman. During his age 38 season Helton still put up impressive numbers. He managed to post a 123 wRC+, while still being able to play decent defense. All things being said, he had 2.6 WAR, and for a 38 year old who shouldn’t even be on a roster the Rockies will take that every time. Naturally regression is expected since he will be turing 39, but if Helton can manage 1-1.5 WAR he can definitely be serviceable. To play third base the Rockies went out and got Casey Blake, also 39 years old. Blake has had a very solid career, but last year he may have finally hit the wall. He only played 48 games, but in the those 48 games he was essentially a replacement level player. Replacement level players aren’t bad, but due to natural regression, Blake could be worse this season.

Since Chris Iannetta was traded to the Angels, the Rockies went out and got Ramon Hernandez. Hernandez can give the Rockies a good offensive bat, but won’t offer much defensive value.

Gonzalez followed his breakout season in 2010 with another good season. His WAR was two wins lower (6.5 compared to 4.1) but he still was really good. In 2010 his BABIP was an astronomical .384, last season it was .326, so his 2011 numbers are a good indication of what we can expect. His power is for real, even if Coors inflates it a bit, and he has a really good arm. Dexter Fowler had a good season himself. His .354 BABIP may suggest he was a little lucky, but Fowler’s speed also contributes to that. He’s not a great defender, but his wRC+ was 13% better than in 2010. The increase in his offense was the main factor in his increasing WAR. Former Twin Michael Cuddyer will be playing right field as well as the occasional 1B/2B when the team needs him to. Cuddyer is coming off of a 3.1 WAR year, and the arrival to Coors will definitely help his numbers. He already has above league average power, so Coors will only improve that. UZR doesn’t like his defense, but his arm strength is well above league average. If Cuddyer ever moves around, the first guy off the bench should be Tyler Colvin. Colvin can supply good power, but not the greatest defense.

With Ubaldo Jiminez shipped off to the Indians, Jorge de la Rosa should be the number one pitcher for the Rockies. Before undergoing Tommy John surgery, de la Rosa was off to a good year. His 3.76 xFIP shows that he can be a good starting pitcher, probably not number one or two status, but good nonetheless.  Jhouyls Chacin is a pitcher with some good potential. His strikeout percentage dropped a lot from his 2010 season, but walk percentage was the exact same. If he could cut one or two walks out he would be much better. Newly Jeremy Guthrie should be in the middle somewhere. He isn’t that great though. Tyler Chatwood came over in the Iannetta trade. In 25 starts last season xFIP says he’s a 4.90 pitcher. That’s a small sample size though, and he should be a good back end of the rotation guy. Until Drew Pomeranz and Alex White are ready, Guillermo Moscoso and Josh Outman should get starts in the rotation. Neither are very good though.

Rafael Betancourt will be the closer, he’s coming off a good season and should provide good value at the closer position. Matt Belisle is another reliever who could have a good season.

Overall, the Rockies have a decent ball club. Their rotation may struggle until they get some of their young talent up, but they have some decent starters. Offensively they have some guys who can put up some big numbers. They probably won’t make the playoffs but they have been known to make some crazy runs towards the end of the season.

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