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Grading the 2006 Colorado Rockies Part 2 (Finally): Outfielders

I'm just going to go through some more of the roster last season. My first part was way back when we were still in season actually, and I went over the players no longer on the forty man roster, or those that were on the roster but unlikely to contribute the rest of the season. Tonight, I'll go over our outfielders, generally a source of strength for the 2006 season, and try to give a peek into the crystal ball for what 2007 holds for these guys.

In order of 2006 PA's:

Matt Holliday: A- Offensively it was a solid A, but I have to take a few points off for some pretty sketchy defense at times, Holliday pounded out 89 extra base hits, knocked in 114, scored 119 and was a feared presence at the plate.  As for 2007, there's little to make me think Holliday's bat will decline any -if at all- and there is still a chance that we will actually see some improvement on last season's rate numbers such as average and OBP, the only real concern would be with injuries, that Matt won't be in the lineup as often and therefore might not reach such gaudy XBH totals.

Brad Hawpe: B Everything in the raw numbers was what you would want to see from your second best corner outfielder, plenty of power, a decent average and OBP, the problem with Hawpe was just one of not being opportunistic in the batter's box when it mattered most. I think most of us believe he should have had over 100 RBI last season but his lack of production with RISP held him back. But the fact of the matter was, he didn't even have the worst drop-off in OPS with RISP in the Rockies starting outfield. That distinction goes to Holliday, who's normally robust .973 OPS dropped .159 points to .814 when he was in a run producing situation. Hawpe's dropped just over a full tenth of a point to .797 from .898. I think one reason we can't give up optimism for 2007 is that these sort of figures almost always bounce back toward normal in subsequent seasons. The result: more runs will mean more wins.

Cory Sullivan: C Cory was a slightly below  average ballplayer at the plate. He was good defender. Overall, he was just a run of the mill player. The only trouble was that the Rockies needed more than that from center field since they were trying to count on Clint Barmes at shortstop and Danny Ardoin/Yorvit Torrealba behind the plate for the first 120 games or so. With two holes already in the lineup, in order to be competitive the Rockies needed solid production everywhere else, and in Cory they didn't get it. Hence this off-season's search, oh and also the fact that we need our center fielder to bat first or second and Cory doesn't do that. Let's call the search off anyway. Most statistical prognoses will have Cory bouncing back with a higher batting average in 2007 and with just a little improvement in pitch selection, he should be average to slightly above at the plate and with a little more patience will be at least passable batting second until mid-season. More good news comes later in the prognoses of our other centerfielders (with the possible exception of Choo Freeman who could break out anyway given how he's performing in Mexico.) Save our money for the draft or to pick up parts at the trade deadline.

Choo Freeman: D Freeman's 173 AB's in 2006 were uninspiring, but luckily his 100+ AB's in Obregon have restored some of my hope that he's still improving. Back to 2006, why the D? Only one Rockie outfielder with over 50 AB's had a lower RC/27AB's to Choo's 3.32 and that was Jorge Piedra who clocked a miserable 2.19. Three and a half runs won't win a whole lot of games anywhere, let alone in Colorado. In 2007 he needs to bring this number at least up to the 4.5 range to be useful as a major leaguer.

Ryan Spilborghs: B He's not going to be a savior, but he is going to be solid fourth outfielder. Here's the trouble. The Rockies might already have four outfielders better than him with Jeff Baker in the mix. Somebody's going to get squeezed out of a roster spot in the Spring among the Baker, Spilborghs, Freeman group,a nd with Jeff being able to play the infield corners and Choo a more natural CF, my guess is that somebody might be Spilborghs.

Jeff Baker: A My only wish is that he had been called up sooner. Remind we why we even wasted time with Piedra again? Anyway, let bygones be bygones, next season hopefully Baker gets at least 450 AB's backing up everyone on the corners and the Rockies will get twenty HR and another thirty or so doubles out of it. If we had one more table setter, I could see five Rox cracking the 100 RBI barrier if things go our way next year: Holliday, Atkins, Helton, Hawpe and Baker.

Jeff Salazar: B+ If Jeff Salazar proves that his .164 BB/PA in his cup of coffee wasn't a fluke, then we have our centerfield answer right here. Salazar took awhile, but he's another player that seems to have benefitted a lot learning under our new hitting coach Alan Cockrell while in Colorado Springs. I think he's a real quality darkhorse for the starting job come Spring.