Monday Rockpile: Jose Lopez Clutch, Johnny Herrera Astounding

Ask me on Opening Day how I thought Jose Lopez and Johnny Herrera would be performing come Week 3, I'd probably have told you "Well, Lopez will probably have some sort of BABIP improvement thanks to Coors Field and be holding down the starter role, and Herrera would have a couple of starts under his belt and some timely clutch hits and bunts and some other stuff that make him endear to everyone but the stat guys". 

Turns out it's exactly the opposite.

I don't know if you noticed, but Herrera has a 1.115 OPS, is playing excellent 2B defense, and there's nobody even close to taking his starting spot at 2B. Lopez started out making some nice plays at 2B, but has kind of settled into the platoon of doom at 3B. Oh, he's made some nice plays at 3B as well.

This is the part of the article where I should point out that there's no way Herrera's .429 BABIP is going to hold up, and neither are Jose Lopez' .152 and Ty Wigginton's .242, but let's just kind of ignore those for the time being.

The fact is that the middle infield are combining to be the absolute best part of the 2011 Rockies so far. Through Saturday's games, Troy Tulowitzki's .537 wOBA and Herrera's .535 wOBA are leading the team and are 3rd and 4th in the Majors. 

I know small sample and such, but seriously, at what point did you expect to see "Herrera is 4th in the majors in wOBA"? Ever? Herrera is walking at a 23.8% rate. That's really, really good. This is the improvement that Herrera needed to make to start to silence the critics. Last season, the issue was "Herrera hits bloops, and while they're great, that well is gonna run dry, and THEN where is his OBP?" You post a .140 IsoD (OBP-AVG) and you are sitting right at the top (or near the top) of my lineup every day of the week and twice on Sunday doubleheaders. Even more interesting, Herrera has KILLED IT on the road so far (1.352 road OPS), and his Coors numbers are downright shabby.

The humor to me is really the role reversal of Lopez and Herrera. Herrera was supposed to be the scrappy bench player who played 2B and 3B and got clutch singles, and Lopez was supposed to be the 2B starter who surprised everyone with his resurgence in Colorado. Instead, Lopez has gotten that clutch line drive single in the key situations, and Herrera is dominating.

Don't read this as outrage at the role reversals. I've said it before, I don't care who gets the job done, as long as someone gets it done. The way Herrera is hitting, you just keep riding that pony until both of his legs break, because I'm pretty sure he'd be getting the job done on one leg right now, 2007-Jason-Hirsh style.

Off Topic

Rockies’ Smith leaves game with tight groin | Inside the Colorado Rockies
No updates from Steve Foster, but let's all say it together:

FFFFFFFFFFFFFF

Seth Smith has a .995 OPS after a 2-for-2 Sunday which included a homer and a double. Smith just feels like it's tweaked, but yeesh, this is NOT what we want to see right now. Put on your game face, Spilly!

 

Colorado Rockies can use series vs. San Francisco Giants as a measurting stick - MLB News | FOX Sports on MSN
Tracy Ringolsby entreats the Rockies to make their statement this week against the Giants, to show themselves as the club that was built for success.

Oh, and Troy Tulowitzki already has 5 intentional walks. That matches his single-season high. Cue the Pantera.

 

Stewart’s situation remains ‘a pickle’ for Rockies | All Things Rockies — Colorado Rockies news — Denver Post
Look, either give the guy a start 2 out of 3 days or option him to the Springs. Again, for the 7 millionth time, it's not a slight against Stewart, but he needs regular playing time, and the Rockies are just too hot right now for remedial time. Lopez is defensively holding down 3B well enough and he might get into a groove as well. I love me some Ian Stewart, but I love me some dialed-in Ian Stewart even more. Right now he just can't buy a hit. He can, however, steal them against the shift.

 

Q&A with Tulsa Driller and Colorado Rockies prospect Christian Friedrich - Tulsa Tulsa Drillers | Examiner.com
Kevin Henry from the Tulsa Drillers Examiner sits down with Christian Friedrich basically going from last season's injury to preparation for 2011.

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