Did you know that the Rockies' .980 fielding percentage in 2012 was the 3rd worst in team history, behind 1996 (.976) and 1993 (.973)? Neither did I, until I went and looked it up.
You see, when this season started, my thought process was that the team wasn't going to be very good, barring a lot of surprises, but the best way to get them to win is to put the best gloves on the field at any given time.
Did you know that per the Defensive Runs Saved metric, the Rockies were worth -88 runs in the field? That's 9 losses due to bad defense. Thanks, Fangraphs!
It seemed entirely plausible come Opening Day. Todd Helton at 1B, Troy Tulowitzki at SS, Dexter Fowler in CF, Carlos Gonzalez in LF, and generally competent fielders between RF, 2B, 3B, and C (Ramon Hernandez). Come season's end, well, you all saw it. Wilin Rosario behind the plate, Jordan Pacheco at 1B. Andrew Brown in RF. There's no doubt about it, injuries really sapped the team's strength in just about every aspect of the game.
I wouldn't be shocked if all of this defensive trouble was a major reason why Rich Dauer got fired. Dauer, in addition to being the 3B coach, was also "coordinator of all defensive positioning" before being let go. Mind you, this isn't me throwing Dauer entirely under the bus, but rather a possible reasoning for his departure. Dauer has a decent resume, including being the organization's roving infield coordinator as well as the same position for the Baltimore Orioles and the Kansas City Royals.
Having a top notch defense is the only way Colorado can really support its pitching, at least in my estimation. There's been a decent amount of talk about how the young Rockies pitchers are afraid to pitch to contact, despite the near inevitability of it in Colorado, because they get hammered whenever they do. It's an excuse, that's for sure. Just ask Matt Belisle. But adding in as good of a defensive team as possible can help our young guys have a better understanding of how much of the damage done was done because they pitched poorly, or because fieldable balls were missed.
Next season will be very interesting as far as the defense goes. Sure, the Rockies should be getting Tulo back, but at what defensive capacity? A lot of the "Tulo to 3B" talk is based on the fact that he likes to range down to the 16th St. mall to get to a grounder. Furthermore, Josh Rutledge didn't grade out well at SS in 2012, despite scouting reports of him being a plus glove at SS. He DID, however, grade out well at 2B (and remember folks, these are really small samples to pull UZR from), which works out well with Tulo returning to SS.
Part of the problem is that there are a decent number of guys who are going to see playing time who really aren't great fielders. Michael Cuddyer, Chris Nelson, Wilin Rosario, and Jordan Pacheco, to name a few. But that's just going to be the nature of the beast for now. Much as we're hoping for that elusive growth for the young pitching, we should be hoping on that same growth for the lineup.
Good defense = fewer runs allowed. Let's shoot for that.