Tuesday Rockpile: When the going gets tough, Michael Cuddyer gets going

Dustin Bradford

Despite being only a year and a half into his three-year contract with the Rockies, Michael Cuddyer already deserves a place in the team's lore, just like he'll always be beloved as a Minnesota Twin.

When Michael Cuddyer signed a three-year, $31.5 million deal with the Colorado Rockies prior to the 2012 season, the general sentiment among the baseball media and fanbase alike was that the Rockies overpaid for a guy entering the twilight of his career who had no real defensive position and didn't have the type of impact bat to make up for it.

After Cuddyer appeared in just 101 games in 2012 and finished with a .260/.317/.489 line and 16 home runs while the Rockies stumbled to their worst season in franchise history, many of those same pundits and fans wanted Cuddyer out of town faster than Ty Wigginton, the Rockies' free-agent bust from the year before.

While Cuddyer's contract still might not be the best thing for an organization still trying to find its way, Cuddyer has found a way to silence the critics, which is perhaps the biggest and most difficult thing he's accomplished in his career.

Cuddyer has hit .338/.392/.580 in 69 games for the Rockies, smacking 15 home runs and, at one point, owning a 27-game hitting streak. Cuddyer was rewarded for his performance last weekend with a selection to the National League All-Star team, and the 34-year-old native of Virginia will participate alongside teammate Carlos Gonzalez and New York Mets third baseman David Wright, who hails from the same area as Cuddyer, in the Home Run Derby on Monday.

The overall numbers put up by Cuddyer are terrific, but it's what he has done in the absence of star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki that has earned him the love of the fans, and should earn him a place in the Rockies' lore. Just like he earned the love of Minnesota Twins fans everywhere during his stint in Minneapolis because of an all-time performance while that team's MVP, Justin Morneau, was sidelined with an injury during a critical juncture of a season.

Cuddyer, w/o Morneau in 2009 Cuddyer, w/o Tulo in 2013
Games 21 23
AVG .325 .341
OBP .398 .388
SLG .675 .538
HR 8 5
RBI 24 15

The main difference, of course, is that Morneau was out at the end of a season and missed 21 games for a Twins team that eventually made the playoffs, while Tulowitzki went down in mid-June for a team that is ultimately going to be a .500-ish club. Still, Cuddyer stepping up his game in both situations is the kind of stuff that media and fans eat up, as they should. Cuddy was forced to singlehandedly carry the Rockies in many games due to Tulo and Dexter Fowler's injuries and Carlos Gonzalez's slumping tendencies, and although the results haven't been there (Colorado is 8-15 since Tulowitzki landed on the DL), Cuddyer continues to show up and rake on a nightly basis.

Regardless of what happens with Cuddyer during the rest of his tenure with the Rockies, I must admit there will always be a soft spot in my heart for No. 3 because of the cliche attributes and intangibles that get so very tiresome to hear about at times. Don't you just love how baseball works?

Off-topic

Links

Jeff Sullivan from Fangraphs has a piece detailing the best non-All-Star seasons, by fWAR, in MLB history. A former Rockie appears on the list, though the season shown did not take place while he was donned in purple.

Rick Reilly, yet another massive troll employed by ESPN, is accusing Chris Davis of PED use.

Finally, how about Max Scherzer's numbers over the past year:

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