Ian Stewart was the most often picked Rockie as a breakout candidate in 2010 - he just had to cut down on his strikeouts. K's were securing a low glass ceiling, and his average would never improve. The quintessential change is bearing out thus far.
Beef Stew/Caber has cut his strikeout rate from 33% to 22% so far this young season, and as Jim Armstrong points out, Stewart has significantly improved his two-strike hitting (SSS). Of course, he's not going to hit .300 with two strikes or .391 for the season, and sadly, his strikeout rate isn't likely to stay at 22%, even with a new shorted up swing. Why?
So far this season, Stewart has made contact on an impressive 80% of his swings on pitches "outside the strike zone." He has never managed 50% before in his career. While part of that is being more selective (he has swung at 18% of outside the zone pitches, compared to 25% for his career), part may also be the he's-seeing-the-ball-well-this-week-it-looks-like-a-grape-fruit-up-there phenomenon. Hopefully, he can continue to stay patient when that .412 BABIP comes down to earth. I fear that O-Swing% column could skyrocket after two "ofer" games.
At the end of Armstrong's article, it is mentioned that Greg Smith won't be "sweating Niagara Falls" this time around, and should be more effective in his start tonight against the Mets. The Rockies should have retribution in mind after an embarrassing series at the end of July last season. One fact I think you'll like: the Mets are alone in last place today for the first time since 2006. If you're more of a visual person, here's a graphical representation.
Despite uneven starts from Greg Smith, Aaron Cook and Jason Hammel, I'd like to point out that the Rockies are currently 2nd in WAR among MLB pitching staffs. (I know it's early, but it's not like they don't belong there.) The Rox hurlers currently trail the Giants, who have the benefit of having played an additional game.
Speaking of the Giants, San Francicso beat up on the Pirates last night, moving them to 6-1. We can still make fun of their offense, and not fret over their hot start though. They swept the winless Astros in their only three road games, beat the hapless Pirates and took a home series against the Braves. If you missed it, Atlanta looked pathetic in San Diego yesterday. The Padres managed just 7 runs over 26 innings at Coors Field, but Jair Jurrjens and Jo-Jo Reyes each surrendered more than that at PetCo Park Monday.
Jeff Kingery, former Rockies radio announcer - The Denver Post
Irv Moss checks back in with Jeff Kingery.