For the first time in many, many years, the Colorado Rockies could have a middle of the lineup that's capable of striking "deer in the headlights" fear in opposing pitchers. If all goes well, Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki, and Wilin Rosario are likely to be batting back to back to back in the 3-4-5 slots on a regular basis by mid summer, and if the Rockies get healthy and productive seasons out of those three players, they will be at worst an exciting team to watch in 2013.
The following idea is something I've brought up a couple of times during the off season, but it's worth bringing up again as the start of the season draws closer because I still believe it's a real possibility. As the title of the rockpile indicates, I believe that with health and a little bit of luck, Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki, and Wilin Rosario have the potential to combine for 100 home runs in 2013.
Let's quickly go through where each of these players currently stand in this department.
Carlos Gonzalez: Of the three, Cargo may actually be the player I'm most concerned about. As this rockpile from last month indicates, Carlos Gonzalez saw his power disappear in the latter half of 2012 and it's difficult to pinpoint the exact reason why this happened. If the back half of 2012 turns out to be the beginning of a longer trend for Cargo, than the Rockies have a gigantic problem on their hands. However, this is still the player who hit 34 bombs in 2010 and hit 26 in 2011 while playing in just 127 games. A full season of a healthy Carlos Gonzalez combined with the protection of Tulo and Rosario could easily result in another 30 + home run season.
Troy Tulowitzki: Is there any doubt that Tulo will put up enormous power numbers if he stays healthy this season? After changing his stance in June of 2009, Tulo spent the better part of the next three seasons averaging one home run every 17.6 plate appearances. (This figure did drop off slightly when you add in 2012, but it very likely was connected to Tulo's leg injury) If stretched out over 600 plate appearances (a number Tulo has surpassed in the seasons he's stayed off the DL), that comes out to 34 home runs in a season. In other words, a healthy Tulo has already shown he's capable of getting the trio at least a third of the way to 100 .
Wilin Rosario: If 2012 is any sort of an indication of how much power Rosario is going to have over the course of his career, than pitchers across the league just let out a collective groan. In just 426 plate appearances, Rosario cranked 28 home runs in his age 23 season! Coors Filed or no Coors Field, that number is extremely impressive any way you slice it. As long as he doesn't take a step backwards at the plate production wise in 2013, slightly increased playing time will take the baby bull passed 30, and there are even some scouts who believe he'll have 40 home run pop before by the time he reaches his peak.
The bottom line is this - For the first time ever, the Rockies have a third legitimate power threat to support the Cargo / Tulo combination. A third power hitter of this magnitude means that opposing teams now have to face a player with 30+ home run pop 12 to 15 times a night (in most games anyway) instead of just 8 to 10 times. That's four or five extra chances to make a potentially game changing mistake on one pitch, and that really adds up over the course of the season.
A third true power hitter in the order has the potential dramatically tip the scales in a team's favor. There's much less room for opponents to hide. They will have to take on at least one of these players during an uncomfortable spot in the game just about every time all three of them take the field. Simple numbers dictate it. It's impossible to know exactly what to expect since we've never seen these three in a lineup together on a consistent basis yet, but I just can't help but think that the end result is going to be some magical nights in the Lodo.
Troy Renck tackles the other side of the team this morning and addresses the bevy of question marks surrounding the team's rotation.
There's also an update on Charlie Blackmon this morning who is trying to recover from yet another injury.