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How much better is the Rockies lineup than the rest of the West?

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The answer might surprise you, and I know it will surprise many outside observers. First of all, let's get the obvious question out of the way:

Is the Rockies' lineup better than those in the rest of the NL West?

Yes. It is. It's deeper, too.

Let's just go position by position by RC/G (Runs Created per Game) according to the ZiPS (you can download the complete Excel files from BBTF at this link here) of each team's likely starter:

Catcher

  1. Chris Iannetta 5.9
  2. Josh Bard 5.5
  3. Russell Martin 5.4
  4. Miguel Montero 4.9
  5. Eliezer Alfonso 3.7 (Matheny's at 3.3)
I can hear the incredulous screams in Dodgerland right now, but let's move on.

First Base:

  1. Todd Helton 8.8
  2. Nomar Garciaparra 6.1
  3. Adrian Gonzalez 6.0
  4. Conor Jackson 5.9
  5. Rich Aurillia 5.3
The Rockies are two for two so far, but we drop to the bottom on the next one.

Second Base:

  1. Jeff Kent 5.9
  2. Ray Durham 5.6
  3. Orlando Hudson 5.4
  4. Marcus Giles 5.2
  5. Kaz Matsui 4.5
Obviously we're hoping Matsui provides a bit more than that, but everybody else is hoping their guy outperforms expectations too, so let's just keep the numbers raw for this exercise.

Shortstop:

  1. 1a. Rafael Furcal 5.5
    1b. Stephen Drew 5.5
  2. Troy Tulowitzki 5.4
  3. Khalil Greene 4.7
  4. Omar Vizquel 4.2
You will start to notice here that the Giants are in some pretty serious trouble unless they get some overachievement from several positions. Now, Tulo isn't quite as close to Furcal and Drew as it looks, as I believe these numbers are projected with each player's home park in mind. That said, it's still a surprisingly tight race given that Troy's a year younger.

Third Base:

  1. Garrett Atkins 7.6
  2. Chad Tracy 5.8
  3. Kevin Kouzmanoff 5.3
  4. Wilson Betemit 5.1
  5. Pedro Feliz 4.0
Atkins' lead here is significant well beyond park effects. The same goes with Helton's. Chris Iannetta's stats probably drop closer to a dead heat with Bard and Martin in a neutral park, but our overall lead holds after the infield is accounted for.

Right Field:

1. Brad Hawpe 6.5
2a. Brian Giles 6.1
2b. Andre Ethier 6.1
2c. Carlos Quentin 6.1
5. Randy Winn 4.8
One of these players is not like the others: again misery is in the cards for Giants fans this year. Hawpe's lead over the other three is precarious according to most models I've seen, and THT's Marcels, for instance, has Quentin and Ethier ahead.

Center Field:

  1. Chris Young 6.0
  2. Mike Cameron 5.2
  3. Dave Roberts 5.0
  4. Willy Taveras 4.8
  5. Juan Pierre 4.5
Wouldn't it be ironic if Juan Pierre gave us the division title this season? If in the Dodgers' last game, Randy Winn comes up two down with a bases loaded drive to the gap and Pierre's "cannon" arm is the difference between extending their season and going home for the fall? Yeah, you're right, we better not count on Randy Winn or any Giant.

Left Field

  1. Barry Bonds 9.9
  2. Matt Holliday 8.2
  3. Eric Byrnes 5.3
  4. Termel Sledge 5.1
  5. Luis Gonzalez 5.0
If for any reason, Barry Bonds is unable to go, the dropoff to the Giants next guy is significant, but let's go over that, too.

Average for the starting eight:

  1. Colorado 6.4625
  2. Arizona 5.6125
  3. Los Angeles 5.45
  4. San Diego 5.3875
  5. San Francisco 5.3125
Some thoughts and bench numbers after the jump:

The Rockies' average represents an 18.6% premium on the Dodgers average. If you look at only last season's park factors (Coors Field 107, Dodger Stadium 102) the difference is significant, but if you look at only 2005's (Coors Field 112, Dodger Stadium 95) it's negligible. I'm going to take the optimistic middle road, and say we're still a bit ahead of LA. As for Arizona, Chase Field has played at park factors of 107 and 104 the last two seasons, which would drop them below Los Angeles in a neutral setting.

In short, the offensive end seems taken care of at this point as far as our starters are concerned. If the Dodgers make some moves with players they already have (replacing Juan Pierre with Matt Kemp, for example) that could change. As far as the bench goes, this is where Arizona actually could make up some ground:

Outfield/Corner Bench 1 (DH/PH):

  1. Jeff Baker 6.2
  2. Scott Hairston 6.1
  3. Olmedo Saenz 5.8
  4. Ryan Klesko 5.7
  5. Russell Branyan 5.4
Branyan might beat out Kouzmanoff for SD's starting third base job, but both are right in that range. Marcels  actually has Baker as one of the top 50 in baseball in OPS (.861) this season, and suggests we might be better off starting him in right over Hawpe (.839). Either way, we're loaded to this point.

DH/PH Bench #2

  1. Ryan Spilborghs 5.6
  2. Tony Clark 5.2
  3. Todd Linden 5.0
  4. Marlon Anderson 4.8
  5. Jose Cruz Jr. 4.2
Anderson, and Cruz Jr are their teams' likely backup centerfielders, while Linden would bump Winn over to center should he be needed. Clark's the second best pure hitting secondary bench bat according to this, but don't confuse this with organizational depth. Joe Koshansky is projected at 5.4 in case Helton goes down for any amount of time, the same as James Loney and Andy LaRoche, and Matt Kemp's (5.8) bat could be a potent addition right now for the Dodgers as well. It's still looking good for us at this point though.

Backup Catcher:

  1. 1. Chris Snyder 4.4
    1b. Mike Lieberthal 4.4
  2. Javy Lopez 4.3
  3. Rob Bowen 3.5
  4. Mike Matheny 3.3
Torrealba's projected at 3.9, so the slot wouldn't differ if we'd rather keep his defense than Lopez' veteran intangibles.

Backup Infielder:

  1. Todd Walker 4.6
  2. Alberto Callaspo 4.5
  3. Kevin Frandsen 4.3
  4. Jamey Carroll 4.1
  5. Ramon Martinez 3.7
The Diamondbacks' bench is a lot deeper than I thought heading into this offseason, and our acquisitions (Alexis Gomez 4.0, John Mabry 3.9) besides Javy haven't really addressed this. Spillborghs and Baker give us some hope as long as the team makes the right choices on who to keep this Spring. Cory Sullivan is projected at 4.6 and Jeff Salazar at 4.4, so I'd rather keep either of them as a left handed bat than the two refuse heap players we've picked up.