Rock mining week 2: Charlie Blackmon and Michael Cuddyer at top of lineup key to Rockies' success

Doug Pensinger

Rock mining is a weekly look into key statistics for the Colorado Rockies.

In the recent past the Colorado Rockies have had consistency in their leadoff spot with Dexter Fowler and a revolving door at the second spot in the order. Coming into the season, though, this looked to be turned on its head with Walt Weiss acquiesing to Michael Cuddyer's wish to hit second and the three(or four)-headed platoon monster in center field. Charlie Blackmon's early season success has built some consistency at the top spot and the team needs to ride that for as long as they can.

A quick look at espn.com will tell you that the Rockies are second in runs scored and on base percentage while being first in average and slugging percentage in all of major league baseball. A large part of that is Blackmon and Cuddyer who have hit .486/.500/.743 and .424/.459/.606 when hitting first ans second in the order. Overall the team has gone 4-2 with that pairing at the top of the lineup this season, 6-3 when one of them is in the first two spots, and 0-3 when neither one of them occupies the first two spots of the lineup.

Even taking into account the other players that have hit in those two positions, the Rockies are fairing much better at the top of their lineup then in previous seasons. Here is a look at the leadoff position in the past few years:

Year avg obp slg
2014 .412 .448 .588
2013 .259 .341 .400
2012 .279 .344 .418
2011 .272 .352 .421

And for the number two spot in the lineup:

Year avg obp slg
2014 .408 .426 .531
2013 .256 .290 .341
2012 .265 .313 .406
2011 .273 .336 .395

As you can see, not even close. Obviously, twelve games doesn't make a season, but the small sample size counter argument begins to go away as the team approaches ten percent of the season complete. Considering that they are on pace to score 160 runs in the first month of the season, 19 more than last year and 41 more than 2012, I think that the top positions' success this year has helped the offense get moving.

Setting the table for the middle of the Rockies' lineup is huge. The Rockies have some big bats but the youth at the end of the lineup means that the production has to be focused near the front. Setting the table by having base runners for Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki, and Justin Morneau to drive in will keep making this team successful on offense. If Drew Stubbs can find his swings against left-handed pitchers, the top of the order could be even more dangerous.

Now for some other random statistics:

The Good

It is early in the season, but call-ups from Colorado Springs have been a success thus far. Jordan Lyles, who never really left, has filled in admirably by going 2-0 with a 3.86 ERA with 9 Ks/3 BBs in 11 and 2/3 innings. This has earned him an extended stay, at least until Jhoulys Chacin gets back. Josh Rutledge, called up when the team has a Tulo scare, has gotten a hit in four out of five tries without striking out(or walking) in his limited time with the team.

The Bad

Jorge De La Rosa's 9.69 ERA is not going to make anyone excited about him, not Rockies' fans nor perspective buyers at the trade deadline. Jorge needs to turn this around to help the Rockies have success and, if success is too much to ask for, at least get us something quality in return in a trade.

The Ugly

When playing the Giants, Walt Weiss needs to forget the old standard about left handed batters vs. right handed pitchers and look at the stats. Carlos Gonzalez cannot hit Matt Cain, for whatever reason. After yesterday, his average is now .091 against Cain. On the plus side, Cargo has a 1.342 OPS against Giants' lefty Madison Bumgarner.

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