The Great Rockies Census of Spring 2013

Christian Petersen

So what exactly do we have on our hands heading into 2013?

In 435 BC, the ancient Romans established a government program known as the Census. The paterfamilias of each family in Rome was obliged to show up at a building called the Villa Publica to answer certain questions posed by officials known as Censors. These questions included marital status, number of children, and the value of their property, which included cattle, slaves, and most importantly, land holdings. As a result of the Census, the Roman government compiled exceptionally accurate statistics concerning population, wealth, and demographics. Thus when they felt the urge to go to war or levy taxes, they knew exactly how many men and resources they could call upon. There's a reason why Rome was the most powerful civilization in the world for a thousand years.

I bring all this up because, as Opening Day rolls inexorably closer, I think it would be a useful exercise to conduct a similar census of the Colorado Rockies. There are a multitude of moving parts involved in a Major League Baseball team, and a snapshot of the likely 25 man roster can help clarify the state of the organization. I'll take a look at every player that will make the Rockies' opening day roster and examine his relevant statistics; summary stats (age, draft pedigree, years to Free Agency), Major League career stats, 2012 statistics, and any other interesting tidbits I happen to think of.

Since a number of spots on the roster are still up for grabs--utility infielder, 5th outfielder, and some bullpen spots spring to mind--I'll try to include every candidate that has a legitimate shot. Of course, a full-blown Rockies census should include important Minor League players, the coaching staff, and the front office executives, but this post is already ballooning on me, so I'll just stick with players likely to impact the 25 man roster in 2013.

So without further ado, let's dive into the Great Rockies Census of Spring 2013, part one. We'll go by alphabetical order, starting with:

Nolan Arenado

Age: 21 Draft Pedigree: 10th pick of the 2nd round, 2009 (Rockies). Years to Free Agency: 6 (pending start of service clock)

MLB Career Stats: N/A

2012 Stats (With AA Tulsa):

AVG/OBP/SLG: .285/.337/.428. wRC+: 110. HR: 12.

ZIPS Projected 2013 WAR: 2.8

Arenado is not even close to a sure thing to make the Rockies 25 man roster out of Spring Training, but a proper Rockies census has to acknowledge the third base prospect. On the subject of whether he should break camp with the team, enough virtual ink has been spilled to fill a virtual swimming pool, so I won't go into it. Prospect mavens loved Arenado after 2011, a year when he drove in more runs than anyone else in the Minors and won Arizona Fall League MVP honors. After 2012 in AA, where he merely maintained instead of taking a step forward, the shine has worn off a bit. Nevertheless, the 52nd best prospect in the game (per Baseball America) is having a hot spring and plays at a position of need for the Rockies; it's not a stretch to think that Arenado will have a big impact on the team for the next half-decade.

Matt Belisle

Age: 32 Draft Pedigree: 9th pick of the 2nd round, 1998 (Braves) Years to Free Agency: 1 (with mutual option for 2014)

MLB Career Stats:

ERA/FIP/xFIP: 4.38/3.93/3.76 K/9: 6.86 BB/9: 2.17 HR/9: 1.02 WAR: 9

2012 Stats:

ERA/FIP/xFIP: 3.71/2.97/3.33 K/9: 7.76 BB/9: 2.03 HR/9: 0.56 WAR: 2.1

ZIPS Projected 2013 WAR: 0.8

I love Matt Belisle. The man was basically unpitchable in parts of five seasons with the Reds; bad ERA's, middling strikeout numbers, a too-high homerun rate. 2009 must have been a stressful year for the righty; non-tendered by the Reds, signed by the Rockies, DFA'd by the Rockies, called back up by Rockies, DFA'd by Rockies...and all the while pitching pretty terribly. Then in 2010 he just...got it. His K/9 jumped to 8.9, easily the highest of his career. His BB/9 shrank to a miniscule 1.57 and the HR/9 tumbled to 0.68. The result was a 2.93 ERA, which was still higher than his FIP and xFIP. Given that he pitched 92 innings--an absurd number for a reliever--he compiled 2.4 WAR that year. He's been no slouch in 2011 and 2012 either, throwing in tons of high leverage innings and maintaining the solid peripherals. He's living proof that pitchers can transition to Coors field and thrive; he's the counter-factual to all the other pitchers that let the altitude get in their heads. I love Matt Belisle.

Rafael Betancourt

Age: 37 Draft Pedigree: Signed as amateur Free Agent Years to Free Agency: 1, plus 2014 option

MLB Career Stats:

ERA/FIP/xFIP: 3.15/3.03/3.65 K/9: 9.57 BB/9: 2.05 HR/9: 0.95 WAR: 14.5

2012 Stats:

ERA/FIP/xFIP: 2.81/3.09/3.65 K/9 8.90 BB/9: 1.87 HR/9: 0.94 WAR:1.4

ZIPS Projected 2013 WAR: 0.7

The Matt Belisle review segues pretty seamlessly into Betancourt's--thanks, quirk of alphabetical sorting! Betancourt's been a relief stud from the word "Go"--especially as a Rockie. Fans pile on Dan O'Dowd a lot these days, and after the horror-shows of 2011 and 2012, it's no wonder why. But he had an exceptional run from 2008 to 2009 of picking up fantastic pitching value for basically nothing. Belisle, Betancourt, Jason Hammel, Jason Marquis, Huston Street and Jorge de la Rosa all came into the fold in that time frame, and they all provided a lot of quality innings for the team. Perhaps the biggest difference between the semi-successful 2009-2010 Rockies and the today-Rockies is that O'Dowd seems to have lost his secret-value ESP. Who knows, maybe Pomeranz, Chatwood, or Outman take steps forward and make Crazy O'Dowd look like Crazy-Like-A-Fox O'Dowd. A betting man wouldn't count on it--but then again, who was counting on Hammel, Marquis, and de la Rosa?

Charlie Blackmon

Age: 26 Draft Pedigree: 26th pick of the 2nd round, 2008 (Rockies). Years to Free Agency: 5

MLB Career Stats:

PA: 223 AVG/OBP/SLG: .270/.303/.350 wRC+: 66 HR: 3 SB: 6 UZR/150:18.5 WAR: 0.4

2012 Stats:

PA: 121 AVG/OBP/SLG:.283/.325/.407 wRC+: 87 HR: 2 SB: 9 WAR: 1.1

ZIPS Projected 2013 WAR: 1.7

Charlie Blackmon is an interesting sort of player: the kind who does everything well, but doesn't do anything exceptionally. He'll probably never hit more than 15 bombs in a season; he might steal 20 bases; he doesn't walk a ton; he plays a good corner outfield, but it's just that--the corner outfield. If everything breaks right for him, he can be a medium-to-high average threat with added value on the base paths and in the field; in other words, a pretty solid 4th outfielder. His Twitter game, though, is phenomenal.

Rex Brothers

Age: 25 Draft Pedigree: 34th pick of the 1st round, 2009 (Rockies) Years to Free Agency: 5

MLB Career Stats:

ERA/FIP/xFIP: 3.49/3.13/3.14 K/9: 11.8 BB/9: 4.74 HR/9: .75 WAR: 2.1

2012 Stats:

ERA/FIP/xFIP: 3.86/3.29/3.43 K/9 11.04 BB/9: 4.92 HR/9: 0.67 WAR:1.3

ZIPS Projected 2013 WAR: 0.5

What is there really to say about Rex Brothers? He's awesome. The walk rate could stand to drop a smidge, and righties have given him problems at times, but he hits 96 from the left side and strikes people out like crazy. Whatever other problems the Rockies may have in 2013, the back end of the bullpen ought to be solid.

Jhoulys Chacin

Age: 25 Draft Pedigree: signed as amateur Free Agent Years to Free Agency: 3

MLB Career Stats:

ERA/FIP/xFIP: 3.68/4.17/4.06 K/9: 7.57 BB/9: 4.18 HR/9: 0.9 WAR: 6.6

2012 Stats:

ERA/FIP/xFIP: 4.43/5.15/5.10 K/9: 5.87 BB/9: 4.17 HR/9: 1.3 WAR: 0.5

ZIPS Projected 2013 WAR: 1.2

Without a doubt, last year was a bummer for Chacin. A lot of walks and homers, very few strikeouts, and his ground ball rate plummeted to 38%. The big question heading into 2013 is whether the injuries that limited his appearances and effectiveness are behind him. He's dealing with a toe bruise this spring, but presumably it isn't a big deal. It's not too bold a claim to say that Chacin and his rotation-mates are the lynch-pins of Colorado's success in 2013; here's hoping he rediscovers 2010 and 2011 form.

Tyler Chatwood

Age: 23 Draft Pedigree: 28th pick of the 2nd round, 2008 (Angels) Years to Free Agency: 5

MLB Career Stats:

ERA/FIP/xFIP: 4.96/4.98/4.76 K/9: 5.01 BB/9: 4.53 HR/9: 1 WAR: 0.7

2012 Stats:

ERA/FIP/xFIP: 5.43/5.17/4.45 K/9: 5.71 BB/9: 4.59 HR/9: 1.25 WAR: 0.3

ZIPS Projected 2013 WAR: -0.2

It's easy to forget how young Chatwood is: he's just 23, but he's already thrown 206 Major League Innings between Anaheim and Colorado. Sure, they've been lousy innings, but it isn't fair to label him a bust when most prospects don't crack the Majors at the age he did. I mean, it's not his fault if he was rushed, right? Maybe I'm rationalizing, as I am wont to do when I see a young arm crack 95 mph with regularity (not to mention we gave up Chris Iannetta to get him). But he's going to have to start getting hitters out sooner or later.

Tyler Colvin:

Age: 27 Draft Pedigree: 13th pick of the 1st round, 2006 (Cubs). Years to Free Agency: 3

MLB Career Stats:

PA: 1,089 AVG/OBP/SLG: .247/.296/.468 wRC+: 95 HR: 44 SB: 13 UZR/150:1.7 WAR:3.7

2012 Stats:

PA: 452 AVG/OBP/SLG:.290/.327/.532 wRC+: 117 HR: 18 SB: 7 WAR: 2.7

ZIPS Projected 2013 WAR: 1.8

Tyler Colvin scares me a lot. His 2011 stat line might be one of the worst things I've ever seen: .150/.204/.306. Of course, some of this could be lingering after effects of having been impaled by a broken bat late in 2010. Seriously, how many of us can claim to have sustained puncture wounds to the chest from flying shards of wood in our jobs? Lord knows my productivity might slip if I were stabbed in the chest. We can't all be Boromir. Tyler ought to hit for pretty good power and play pretty good defense this year while helping in all three outfield spots and first base.

Michael Cuddyer:

Age: 33 Draft Pedigree: 9th pick of the 1st round, 1997 (Twins). Years to Free Agency: 2

MLB Career Stats:

PA: 4,949 AVG/OBP/SLG: .271/.341/.454 wRC+: 110 HR: 157 SB: 60 UZR/150: -5.8 WAR: 15.5

2012 Stats:

PA: 394 AVG/OBP/SLG:.260/.317/.489 wRC+: 102 HR: 16 SB: 8 WAR:1

ZIPS Projected 2013 WAR: 2.2

Cuddyer, the Rockies' big Free Agent splash of 2012, didn't exactly impress last year, with injuries and overall not-goodishness plaguing him throughout. We fans must hope that health and regression to his career numbers outweigh the standard decline players in their mid 30s typically experience. Like Colvin, Cuddyer will play outfield and first base, probably spelling Todd Helton against lefties. He's had big years in the past; maybe there's one or two more left in the tank.

Thus ends part one of the Great Rockies Census of Spring 2013, and I gotta say, this one sort of got away from me. I'll try to plow through De La Rosa to Nelson next week. I hope you learned something about your 2013 Rockies today; if not, you probably learned something about ancient Rome. So you got that going for you.

Editor's Note: Which is nice

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