Buster Olney ranks the best lineups that Major League Baseball has to offer, and somewhat surprisingly, the Rockies are right smack in the middle of this list, at number five. From Olney:
You start with Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, and you throw in a Michael Cuddyer and a Ramon Hernandez, and you consider the improvement of Dexter Fowler, who hit .288 and had a .380 on-base percentage in the second half of the season … The Rockies are going to pile up a whole lot of runs.
Fowler is the key here, in my opinion, as neither he nor the team can afford another one of Dex's trademark slow starts. If his OBP can settle in around .350-.375 with some pop in the first half, my bold prediction is that the Rockies will be in markedly better shape than they were at that point last year - even with the pitching's current situation - due to the fact that they'll finally have a catalyst.
For what it's worth, Olney also sort of has the Rockies in his list of ten best infields (at 10c.), despite the fact that they still don't really have anybody to play second or third. While the argument can certainly be made that any infield that includes arguably baseball's best player should be a top 10 infield, this infield is the exception, especially with it being an even-numbered year (poor Todd Helton).
John Sickels' has a few surprises in a list that's otherwise pretty consistent with our PuRPs list. First off, he seems to like 2011 first-rounder Tyler Anderson more than the PR community, as he has Anderson as the organization's number 6 prospect. Meanwhile, Tyler Matzek's strange 2011 campaign slipped him all the way to #15 on Sickels' list, while he remains high on ours.
Another interesting note is that DJ LeMahieu and Hector Gomez both make an appearance on the list. Both guys are similar, in that they're infielders who were near the top of their systems as far as prospect rating a few years back, but have stalled for whatever reason. LeMahieu has a much better shot at making the big club out of Spring Training, although the tools are clearly still there for Gomez to do the same. It just likely won't happen.