Wednesday Rockpile: Players who are elevating Colorado to a higher plane

Joe Robbins

Colorado's combined 19.6 rWAR so far in 2013 leads all of MLB. Obviously I wish that translated into the actual standings, but I'll certainly take a 31-28 start to 2013. Let's celebrate the players who have really taken Colorado to a higher plane in 2013.

The Rockies have two of the top five position players in the National League according to Baseball-Reference's Rally wins above replacement metric (rWAR) and four of the top 40 position players. They also possess four of the top 18 pitchers in the NL by rWAR. In fact Colorado's combined 19.6 rWAR leads all of MLB.

Obviously I wish that translated into the actual standings, but I'll certainly take a 31-28 start to 2013. Let's celebrate the players (four position players, four pitchers) who have really taken Colorado to a higher plane in 2013.

Troy Tulowitzki (3.0 rWAR to date)

The Tulo that has showed up this year has been (mostly) healthy Tulo, and the Rockies have reaped the benefits (including last night's go-ahead homer). On the year the shortstop has smacked 13 HRs and driven in 45 RBI while providing a sterling .332/.398/.611 (BA/OBP/SLG) hitting line - the slugging is 3rd in MLB. Not only does he tie for the best OPS+ on the team with 157 (57% better than league average), but as RIRF pointed out on Monday he's been the team's best performer in clutch situations. If he remains healthy, Tulo is well on his way to having the best year of his career.

Tulowitzki comfortably leads NL All-Star voting for shortstops and he's got to be in the early NL MVP conversation. The fact that he slipped to 19th in ESPN's Franchise Player draft yesterday is...befuddling.

Carlos Gonzalez (3.0 rWAR)

I won't exactly say that CarGo has been under the radar this year, but he did rank only 10th in NL All-Star voting for outfielders. I guess the specter of Coors Field (and ballot stuffing by fans in SF) is hurting his starting bid, even though his numbers this year are better on the road (.336/.407/.618) than they are at Coors (.275/.372/.550). Gonzalez has an overall hitting line of .306/.389/.584 with 14 HRs, 46 runs (T-3rd in MLB), and 12 SBs so far - plus, he actually rates out as positive in the defensive metrics!

Jorge De La Rosa (2.5 rWAR)

Coming off essentially a lost season due to recovery from a torn UCL, nobody really knew what to expect from Colorado's highest paid player in 2013. Happily, De La Rosa's return has been a successful one to this point, as the lefty has provided 69 innings of 3.10 ERA pitching, earning a 7-3 record to date. His strikeout rate is well below his career mark and his .284 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is below his career average, suggesting a regression is in order. Still, the results to date have really stabilized Colorado's rotation and kept them in contention.

Rex Brothers (2.0 rWAR)

Brothers has been silly good this year up to this point in a relief role. The lefty has allowed just one earned run in 25.2 innings of work (0.35 ERA) with a 1.17 WHIP while striking out a batter per inning. If he keeps performing at this level, Rafael Betancourt may be out of the closer spot when he comes off the DL through no fault of his own. I think that Brothers will regress (he pretty much has to), but I think that he's quickly becoming one of the game's elite bullpen arms.

Dexter Fowler (1.8 rWAR)

The saying over the past couple of years has been, "as Tulo goes, so go the Rockies". Patrick Saunders makes a decent argument about why Dexter Fowler might be a better fit in that statement and so does Troy Renck. RIRF had more on Fowler's offensive improvement on Monday, so I'll just leave you with his 2013 line: .286/.388/.481 with 10 HRs and 10 SBs at the top of the Rockies' lineup. After a year in which he rated out as the worst defensive outfielder in the NL by advanced metrics (still not buying he was that bad), Fowler has only rated slightly below average to this point.

Tyler Chatwood (1.7 rWAR)

Boy did Chatwood sneak up on us or what? The return from the Chris Iannetta trade (still just 23) has been outstanding in a six start, 33.2 inning sample thus far in 2013. The right-hander has posted a 2.14 ERA (with a 2.26 FIP that suggests he really has been that good) and 1.28 WHIP while striking out almost a batter per inning. He left his start on Monday with triceps pain, but he got some good news about the injury yesterday. He will probably miss his next start, but it's hard to see him getting displaced from the rotation at this point. Viva Chatwood!

Jhoulys Chacin (1.5 rWAR)

Chacin (still just 25) really started off the year with a bang, maintaining a 1.46 ERA through four starts before hitting the DL. Since his return in May, he hasn't been as effective (0-3, 5.87 ERA in May), but at least he's provided the most length for any Colorado starting pitcher this year. Chacin's 3.24 FIP is more than a run lower than his 4.26 ERA, suggesting that he's been unlucky to this point. Given that De La Rosa, Brothers, and Chatwood are negative regression candidates, some positive regression for Chacin could go a long way.

Michael Cuddyer (1.3 rWAR)

On a rate basis, Cuddyer might be Colorado's most effective hitter this year. His .341/.399/.610 hitting line with 10 HRs ranks him right up there with Tulo (his SLG is 4th in MLB), albeit in fewer plate appearances due to injury and negative OF defense. His .371 BABIP suggests a regression in the average department, but it's a welcome sight indeed for Rockies fans to see the Cuddyer the team paid for in free agency show up. Along with Fowler, Gonzalez, and Tulowitzki, Cuddyer helps make the middle of Colorado's batting order a tough assignment for opposing arms.

MLB Draft 2013

The big day is swiftly approaching - the Rockies hold the 3rd, 41st, and 70th picks in the first day of the draft, which begins tomorrow at 5 MDT. Given their high position in the draft, the Rockies will have a better chance of picking an All-Star talent.

In the second year of MLB draft budgets, the Rockies will have $5.2 million recommended for the 3rd overall pick and $10.2 million to sign their picks through round 10. Here's what all the other teams have to spend.

Check out David OhNo's breakdown of the top 15 or so prospects on Purple Row - and here's Baseball Prospectus on their thoughts on Colorado's most likely pick, Kris Bryant of San Diego.

For more information on the draft, SB Nation has written up scouting profiles of the consensus first round prospects stored in this handy place. All coverage of the draft from the blogs across the SBN platform will be stored at this hub.

Stay right here at Purple Row for the best comprehensive Rockies draft coverage on the web.

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