FanPost

3 players to watch: making mountains out of molehills - via Mountainball

Everyone knows about Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. They’ve been as good as, well, Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. Barring any health related issues, they’ll both be All-Stars and without whom the Rockies finish with a losing record. But those two cannot do it alone. This article seeks to pick out three wild cards on the team – those who could be the difference between 78 wins and 88 wins; who could turn a run-of-the-mill, average-joe team into a World Series contender.

1. Charlie Blackmon

The 27-year old left hander has been a welcomed surprise this season batting .411 with 15 runs, four home runs, 13 runs batted in and adding five stolen bases in 21 games this year. Blackmon has already accumulated 1.6 wins above replacement, good for second in the major leagues. His strikeout percentage is an insanely low 6.3%, his on base percentage is at a cool .450.

Using wRC+, which measures how a player’s "weighted runs created" compared to the league average, Blackmon comes in off the charts at a ridiculous 195.

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Small sample size is, of course, applicable here, but if Blackmon can produce at even 2/3 of his current pace, the Rockies will have a great shot at making some noise in October.

2. Nolan Arenado

The 23-year old sophomore (and now gold-glover) has made a few spectacular defensive plays already this season, plays that suggest he’ll at least compete for another Gold Glove this year.

But his bat has been a bit slower to come around.

Per Fangraphs, Arenado is striking out more, walking much less, and hitting fewer line drives. That’s the bad news. The good news is that he’s hitting fewer ground balls, hitting more home runs for every fly ball, and his wRC+ is up 15 points from last year to 94. Now, it’s still early in the season so small sample sizes do apply. He’s had 86 plate attempts so far, which statistically means only his strikeout rate has normalized so far. None of the other stats can truly be used yet. But If Arenado can get his bat going (he does currently have a 12 game hitting streak), he could provide immense value come October.

3. Wilin Rosario

In 18 games so far Rosario is hitting .266 with six runs scored, three home runs and 13 runs batted in. Rosario’s striking out less and walking more than last year, but his ground ball rate is way up, he’s hitting less line drives, and his wRC+ is at 96.

But watch his defense. Every time he pops and guns the ball to first base trying to catch runners napping, the crowd takes a breath. he never gets the guy, but one of these times it will soar over Morneau’s head and lead to a run. Walt Weiss may want to talk to him about the unnecessary risk he’s taking, otherwise Rosario will keep doing it. His DRS score (defensive runs saved) of 1 is better than -2 last year, but defensively he’s average at best. Look to see some improvement in Rosario’s decision making and developing more of a report with his pitchers.

Catcher is perhaps the most underrated and under appreciated positions in the game. If there’s one thing the St. Louis Cardinals, San Francisco Giants, and even the Boston Red Sox (in 2004 and 2007) had in common, it was great catching. Yadier Molina, Buster Posey, and Jason Varitek helped lead their teams to multiple World Series rings since 2004. If the Rockies want to be considered a serious contender shoring up the catcher position would be a good place to start.

Like my last post, please feel free to leave constructive feedback. Still learning folks.

Eat. Drink. Be Merry. But the above FanPost does not necessarily reflect the attitudes, opinions, or views of Purple Row's staff (unless, of course, it's written by the staff [and even then, it still might not]).

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