Saturday Rockpile: Precious CarGo

Carlos Gonzalez makes a catch during last night's 3-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks. - Justin Edmonds

Without much fanfare, Carlos Gonzalez may very well be off to the best start of any Rockies position player in 2013.

Perhaps is just what people have come to expect from him, because Carlos Gonzalez's red-hot start to the 2013 season has gone largely un-talked about so far.

There has been plenty of deserved chatter about the hot starts from the likes of Dexter Fowler, Michael Cuddyer, Troy Tulowitzki and the Rockies' pitching staff, but the guy leading the Rockies with an 1.144 OPS and 193 wRC+ is Gonzalez. He and Tulo are tied for the team lead with 1.0 fWAR each. As far as more traditional hitting stats go, Gonzalez is hitting .373 with 10 extra-base hits (five doubles, a triple and four home runs), has driven in nine and is tied with the Tigers' Austin Jackson with 19 runs scored.

He has also improved his home/road splits from past seasons, hitting .344/.417/.688 with three home runs away from Coors Field in 2013.

Perhaps the most important stats for Gonzalez have to do with his plate discipline. In 69 plate appearances, he has walked nine times and struck out just 12 times. For someone who has traditionally struck out at least twice as often as he has walked, this improvement in plate discipline, if it sticks, could make him just that much more dangerous of a hitter. There is reason to believe his improvement in plate discipline is legitimate, such as his ability to take advantage of the Mets' shift earlier this week by knocking singles into left field to the point where Terry Collins stopped utilizing said shift.

In the field, he has played his usual solid defense and has three assists from left field, the second-most of any outfielder in MLB. He has also stolen three bases in 2013 without being caught.

Obviously, Gonzalez won't stay this hot all season, his .409 BABIP is almost certain to regress toward his career number (a still very solid .349) and the walk and strikeout rates may trend a bit to more of what we're used to seeing from him, but at age 27 there is a distinct chance we are seeing an already great player taking his game to another level.

Links:

Why are the Rockies mountain-high? - ESPN
Christina Kahrl from ESPN's SweetSpot blog takes a look at the reasons for the Rockies hot start, the post also includes some video from the Baseball Tonight crew. Both the article and video give a lot of credit to Walt Weiss and the pitching staff.

Rockies lefty Jorge De La Rosa looks all right again - Denver Post
Patrick Saunders looks at the hot start to the season from tonight's starting pitcher. De La Rosa looks to be regaining the form we saw from him in 2011 prior to Tommy John Surgery.

Rockies Chacin "worried" about injury; plus game notes after 7th straight win - Denver Post
More from Saunders from last night's game, including discussion of the injury to the Rockies' ace and some anecdotes from the current winning streak.

Also of note, Jean Segura stole first in the Brewers' game against the Cubs last night. Yes, you read that right and yes, it was legal.

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