Ranking Rockies fantasy players: 2 – 1

2. Troy Tulowitzki

Although he no longer sports a mullet, Tulowitzki still seems to know how to play the game of baseball pretty well. Owners who drafted him late in the first or early second round knew they’d be getting a potential MVP at a position of scarcity, the only question with Tulo is whether his body will hold up over the course of the season.

So far the Rockies have been very careful with Tulo making sure he gets a day off every once in awhile and leaves the game if it gets out of hand one way or the other. Expect this trend to continue and embrace it. Tulo wil likely lose 50 plate attempts this year from the cautious approach, but if the Rockies are in the hunt come October Tulo will play more. And fantasy owners will be rewarded.

Tulowitzki is, naturally, the number one ranked fantasy shortstop in the league right now with an absurd .376 batting average, 24 runs scored, seven homers, and 22 RBIs – in 26 games. He’s walking on 18 percent of his plate appearances – up from 11 percent last year. He’s striking out less this year (12 percent down from nearly 17 percent last year) and his wRC+ of 225 is unsustainable and inhuman.

Tulowitzki’s BABIP will see a negative regression at some point (.373 currently) and the same goes for his HR/FB rate of 29.2 percent. But even with some regression, this might be the best overall player in baseball so take that with a grain of salt. It all comes down to health.

“Just please no more Tulo-nicked-skis…”

1. Charlie Blackmon

So Beard. Much wow. Simply put, this is the fantasy MVP so far, folks. This guy went undrafted in every standard league and a lot of 12 team leagues. Heck, this guy was fighting for a job on his own team in Spring Training. For savvy fantasy owners who picked up – or even drafted – Chuck Nazty, congratulations. Not only is he a great follow on Twitter, turns out he’s a great hitter too.

Blackmon’s batting .379 in 27 games with 22 runs, five home runs, 18 RBIs and seven stolen bases. He’s not only the No. 1 ranked fantasy outfielder – he’s the No. 1 ranked player in the entire sport according to ESPN’s player rater contributing heavily in all counting categories.

He’s walking more, striking out less, and hitting .365 on balls he puts in play. His wRC+ is a ridiculous 180 and he’s hitting nearly twice as many homers per fly ball as last year at 16 percent – by far a career high. His ground ball percentage is up too contributing to the batting average.

Blackmon is connecting more on pitches both inside and outside the strike zone, but is swinging at less pitches outside the strike zone. He’s crushing both lefties and righties at .417 and .366 respectively. His OPS is 1.046.

One thing to watch though is his playing time. Currently Blackmon only has 24 at bats against lefties compared to 71 at bats against righties. He’s certainly making the case for more playing time, but it looks as if Walt Weiss is going to keep playing the matchups which will curb Blackmon’s upside.

He’ll still score a lot of runs and steal close to 20 bases though. It’s just the home runs and RBIs that likely won’t sustain. But enjoy it while it lasts fantasy ballers, and sell high if you can.

“Keep calm and beard on.”

Ranking Rockies fantasy players: 5 – 3

5. Carlos Gonzalez

Carlos started as hot as anyone in the majors. To his credit, he’s still managed to stay in the top 25 of outfielders despite a mighty slump the past couple weeks. Cargo is currently batting a putrid .240 albeit with 16 runs scored, four homers, 16 RBIs while adding a couple of stolen bases. But that’s where the positives end. Gonzalez is battling knee tendinitis and the BABIP dragon. He’s walking less, stealing less, and his wRC+ sits at 85, meaning he’s 15 percent below the average player at creating runs this year. For those that drafted Gonzalez in the first round ahead of guys like Troy Tulowitzki or even Andrew McCutcheon, they thought they were drafting a guy who could hit 30-35 homers, swipe 20 bases, knock in 100 runs and bat .320 doing it. Now, he’s certainly not this bad. But maybe he’s not that good either. His knee will eliminate his stolen base potential – a big part of why he was drafted so high. It also seems to have affected his hitting. It might be time to make some hard choices, and try to sell Gonzalez before it’s too late and people realize he’s not the Gonzalez of yesteryear. But many owners will also be stuck knowing the potential is almost limitless.

“If he could just…”

4. Nolan Arenado

Many people, especially Rockie fans and fantasy pundits, picked Arenado to break out this year, and the 23 year-old has so far proved them right. Take a look at the player rater and the second ranked third basemen in fantasy is…Arenado? Yup. Known mostly for his outstanding defense, Arenado is also contributing with his bat hitting .313 with 16 runs scored, four home runs, 15 RBIs and a stolen base. Arenado is currently riding an 18 game hitting streak, and six out of his last 13 games have been multi-hit efforts.

His wRC+ of 110 is stellar and he’s striking out less. His BABIP of .320 is probably a little high though and he’s walking less. But he’s got a lot of run producers in front of him so expect a lot of RBI opportunities. Might be a great time to sell high though. Just saying. He is only a sophomore.

“I knew he’d be good…”

3. Justin Morneau

Pretend the name isn’t right above this and look at these numbers: .357, 14 runs, six home runs, 22 RBIs. Everyone who thought the ghost of Justin Morneau was capable of that kind of production through 28 games please click here.

Morneau is the 4th ranked first basemen ahead of Paul Goldschmidt, Freddie Freeman, Joey Votto, Chris Davis, Miguel Cabrera, Allen Craig, and Prince Fielder, just to name a few.

He’s striking out less and has a wRC+ of 171, boosted by a ridiculous .358 batting average. His home run rate for every fly ball is at a high 22 percent whereas his career norms are closer to 16 percent. This isn’t totally unheard of though for Morneau. He won an MVP back in 2006 and almost again in 2008. Barring health issues, Morneau will continue to produce at a high level.

“The Mor-you-neau…”


Ranking Rockies fantasy players: 5 – 10

10. Corey Dickerson

Dickerson is not rosterable in standard mixed leagues, or even deep mixed leagues, but the 24-year-old has made some noise when given playing time. So far he’s batting .310 with six runs, two homers, three runs batted in and adding a couple stolen bases. Really, his only problem is that another lefty on here is playing downright MVP level baseball. Keep an eye here though as one injury could skyrocket his value.

9. Wilin Rosario

Off to a slow start this year, Rosario is only batting .244 with seven runs scored, three homers, and 13 runs batted in. Rosario hasn’t really looked comfortable at all this year though. A recent uptick in hits was quickly halted after he hurt his hand. Currently the 22nd ranked catcher, Rosario has performed well below expectations for those that drafted him in the 11th round. His ownership is already dropping (down 3 percent) so people are already giving up on the young slugger – but they shouldn’t be.  Rockies fans who watch closely know he strikes out too much and doesn’t walk. But that’s not what counts in fantasy. He’s still in a stacked lineup hitting behind all-stars. He’s still got the power to hit thirty homers. Sit tight. He’ll be back.

8. Brandon Barnes

Barnes has been quite a pleasant surprise this year. As a guy who was fighting for a roster spot coming out of spring training, Barnes has really turned it on recently with three multi-hit efforts  in his last seven games. Overall he’s batting .333 with eleven runs, three runs batted in and adding three stolen bases. He offers nothing in the power department and, like Dickerson, isn’t rosterable unless in really deep leagues. He’s the definition of a platoon player with little upside, and that’s not going to get it done in fantasy. He’s got some speed and a little bit of power, but the playing time just won’t be there because the offensive skills aren’t there.

7. D.J. LeMahieu

DJ has provided some value as the 15th ranked second basemen due in large part to his .305 average and 14 runs scored. Like Barnes though, LeMahieu provides little power and only a little bit of speed, though to be fair, that’s most second basemen.  If he can get higher in the lineup consistently he might be worth a flier, but his batting average with runners in scoring position will regress. And now he might compete for playing time with Josh Rutledge. Look elsewhere.

6. Michael Cuddyer

Cuddy Bear was performing pretty well before hitting the disabled list. One year after winning the batting title, many people expected Cuddyer to regressa fter an abnormally high batting average on balls he hit into play. But to his credit, Cuddyer is still hitting a cool .317 with 11 runs, three homers, 10 RBIs and a stolen base. Though he’s missed 12 games, he still ranks 36th among outfielders and should continue to be productive hitting in the two-hole. Expect the RBI total to level off but the runs should still be there.


News and Notes for Wed. 4/30

Tyler Chatwood goes to the disabled list with a right elbow strain. Just in time for the return of ace, Jhoulys Chacin.

The Denver Post has some decent photos of yesterday’s win at Arizona.

Patrick Saunders discusses the Rockies’ infield legion of doom. Newsflash: Troy Tulowitzki, D.J. LeMahieu and Nolan Arenado are pretty good at turning double plays.

Brad Johnson from FanGraphs talks about Colorado’s Canny Outfield Platoon and they think the lefties will fair much better than the righties.

Jeff Aberle from the Row thanks Troy for his amazing April and Jordan Freemyer brings bad news on the standings front [Spoiler alert: the Giants are in first].

Wick Terrell examines a perceived loss for the Rockies, and doesn’t think they’re losers anymore.


3 players to watch: making mountains out of molehills

Everyone knows about Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. They’ve beenas good as, well, Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez.  Barring any health related issues, they’ll both be All-Stars and without whom the Rockies finish with a losing record. But those two cannot do it alone. This article seeks to pick out three wild cards on the team – those who could be the difference between 78 wins and 88 wins; who could turn a run-of-the-mill, average-joe team into a World Series contender.

1. Charlie Blackmon

The 27-year old left hander has been a welcomed surprise this season batting .411 with 15 runs, four home runs, 13 runs batted in and adding five stolen bases in 21 games this year. Blackmon has already accumulated 1.6 wins above replacement, good for second in the major leagues. His strikeout percentage is an insanely low 6.3%, his on base percentage is at a cool .450.

Using wRC+, which measures how a player’s “weighted runs created” compared to the league average, Blackmon comes in off the charts at a ridiculous 195.


Small sample size is, of course, applicable here, but if Blackmon can produce at even 2/3 of his current pace, the Rockies will have a great shot at making some noise in October.

2. Nolan Arenado

The 23-year old sophomore (and now gold-glover) has made a few spectacular defensive plays already this season, plays that suggest he’ll at least compete for another Gold Glove this year.

But his bat has been a bit slower to come around. 

Per Fangraphs, Arenado is striking out more, walking much less, and hitting fewer line drives. That’s the bad news. The good news is that he’s hitting fewer ground balls, hitting more home runs for every fly ball, and his wRC+ is up 15 points from last year to 94. Now, it’s still early in the season so small sample sizes do apply. He’s had 86 plate attempts so far, which statistically means only his strikeout rate has normalized so far. None of the other stats can truly be used yet. But If Arenado can get his bat going (he does currently have a 12 game hitting streak), he could provide immense value come October.

3. Wilin Rosario

In 18 games so far Rosario is hitting .266 with six runs scored, three home runs and 13 runs batted in. Rosario’s striking out less and walking more than last year, but his ground ball rate is way up, he’s hitting less line drives,  and his wRC+ is at 96. 

But watch his defense.  Every time he pops and guns the ball to first base trying to catch runners napping, the crowd takes a breath. he never gets the guy, but one of these times it will soar over Morneau’s head and lead to a run. Walt Weiss may want to talk to him about the unnecessary risk he’s taking, otherwise Rosario will keep doing it. His DRS score (defensive runs saved) of 1 is better than -2 last year, but defensively he’s average at best. Look to see some improvement in Rosario’s decision making and developing more of a report with his pitchers.

Cather is perhaps the most underrated and under appreciated positions in the game. If there’s one thing the St. Louis Cardinals, San Francisco Giants, and even the Boston Red Sox (in 2004 and 2007) had in common, it was great catching. Yadier Molina, Buster Posey, and Jason Varitek helped lead their teams to multiple World Series rings since 2004. If the Rockies want to be considered a serious contender shoring up the catcher position would be a good place to start.


Fun with sabermetrics: evaluating the Rockies’ pitchers

Two weeks into the season, and by all accounts the Rockies are right where they should be.  They’re 6-8 and only three games back from the Dodgers in the NL West. Tyler Chatwood came off the disabled list and Jhoulys Chacin will make his first rehab start Tuesday. Unfortunately Brett Anderson broke his thumb against the Giants and hit the disabled list,  so the Rockies are still not going to be at full strength for another few weeks. But injuries are a part of the game, and every team gets them. The Rockies have much deeper issues that not many people are talking about – their pitching has been poor up to this point, and if their pitchers can’t figure out what’s wrong, the offense won’t be there to bail them out every game. Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) is an advanced metric that measures what a player’s earned run average should have looked like over a given time period, assuming that performance on balls in play and timing were league average. The measurement attempts to assess how a pitcher has performed by eliminating variables out of his control (like defense). Similar to ERA, the lower the number, the better the pitcher is (supposedly). Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP) is just a regression of the FIP statistic. It replaces the number of homeruns given up by a pitcher with the number of homeruns they should have given up. Image Image Juan Nicasio has been excellent so far leading all Rockies starters with a 2.97 FIP and a 2.93 xFIP, per Fangraphs. Given Nicasio’s history, he may not keep this up, but perhaps he’s starting to put it all together. New Rockie, Jordan Lyles, has put up decent FIP and xFIP numbers this season too, though his batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is likely a contributing factor there. Surprisingly, Lyle’s FIP is expected to improve a little bit even with the BABIP regression, though don’t be surprised to see it go the other way here. The most important takeaway here though, is that the Rockies’ projected fifth starter and a guy who’s supposed to be in AAA have thus far outperformed expectations. It’s actually the front end of the rotation that could end up a problem. Jorge de la Rosa. Though fans may never know the exact reason why he blew up on Wilin Rosario, de la Rosa hasn’t been any better with Pacheco. Despite an extraordinarily high 11.08 strikeout per nine innings rate, he’s walking nearly five batters in that time, giving up two homers per game and allowing 20% of fly balls to leave the yard, all while getting slightly lucky on balls put in play. One doesn’t have to look at the FIP and xFIP to see why that could be trouble.  De la Rosa has been awful this year (per Fangraphs) leading to a FIP of 5.75 and an xFIP of 4.36. Although fans should expect to see him give up less homeruns, the walks are troubling, the K/9 is unsustainable, and his BABIP will regress closer to 3. This is not what the Rockies wanted out of the 33 year-old veteran, and if he can’t right the ship the Rockies better hope Chacin and Chatwood come back healthy and dealing. Otherwise it could be a long summer.

Some lows, few highs after the first series.

The first series is in the books, and in typical Rockies fashion they made a bad team look great.   To kick things off the Rockies followed LeBron James’ lead and took their talents to South Beach to face a Miami Marlins team that finished second to last last in the league last year, and who’s owner is ubiquitously associated as the worst in all of baseball. But Miami looked like a legitimate contender against some shaky Rockies pitching and utter lack of hitting. Jose Fernandez showed why he’s baseball’s best young pitcher throwing six solid innings of five hit ball and just one earned run while compiling a whopping nine strikeouts.    As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Marlins offense looked like world beaters too as Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton, Casey McGehee, Marcell Ozuna, and Adeiny Hechavarria each had multiple hits en route to a 10-1 Marlins drubbing.

Then Brett Anderson lost to Nate Eovaldi in a one run affair,  as timely hitting eluded the Rockies. Justin Morneau was the only Rockie with multiple hits in the game. It wasn’t until the following day that the Rockie’s bats would finally make the trek up from spring training.  Charlie Blackmon made his first start at Center collecting two hits from the leadoff position off right hander, Henderson Alvarez, who notably threw a crazy no-hitter last year, and Jordan Pacheco collected three hits in the 6-5 win.

The Rockies received a bit of  a scare when Carlos Gonzalez exited the game in the sixth inning after a bout of dizziness. Normally solid Rex Brothers looks hurt too as his fastball sat around 90-92 mph instead of his normal 96-97. We’ll have to wait and wee on that but he didn’t look good after throwing 21 pitches – 8 for strikes- in the eighth and walking  two.

The Rockies would follow up with yet another loss when MVP Casey McGehee  reached base four times driving in three runs and adding another of his own. Hechavarria added a three hit game of his own as the ghost of Franklin Morales returned giving up 8 hits and two walks in just 5 1/3 innings. Matt Belisle looked horrid serving up balls that laid right over the middle resulting in four runs, all earned in just the one inning.

Jay Tymkovich from Purple Row discusses the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of the Rockies bullpen, specifically the spectacularly awful Wilton Lopez and old man Matt Belisle.

Patrick Saunders at the Denver Post is late to the party, but agrees nonetheless.

Saunders also ranks the Rockies minor leaguers .

A new party deck coming in at $10 million has been introduced to Coors Field. CEO Dick Monfort took the best ideas from other ballparks and decided  that’s what Coors Field needed.