John Walsh at the Hardball Times rated the best outfield arms of 2006, and the conclusions he came up with have to be considered promising. We knew from observations that Brad Hawpe's arm was killer, and the stats back that up, rating him the second best arm in right field to Toronto's Alexis Rios. Hawpe gunned down twice as many runners as a league average right fielder and over the course of the season saved the Rockies an estimated 10.2 runs/200 opportunities (about a season's worth) from being scored on them. That's a win in the standings and then some.
What's more, however, Walsh's study showed that the buzz out of Houston regarding Willy Taveras's ability to throw darts has empirical backing as well. Taveras also had a league doubling "kill" rate and saved the Astros 5.9 runs. This earned him the number one ranking, easily outdistancing the second best centerfielder who happens to be our own Cory Sullivan (2.6 runs/200).
Matt Holliday is the weak link here, allowing 3.9 more runs to cross the plate than an average left fielder would. Still, Hawpe's and Taveras' numbers seem to point to the Rockies easily having the best outfield at holding runners within the division, depending on how Arizona's young crew fares. Walsh says he'll come out with a team-by-team ranking next time, as well as a look at the most valuable outfield throws of last season by Win Expectancy (Hawpe figures to have at least one that I can remember in this category) so I'll keep you informed.
Jack Etkin at the Rocky Mountain News has an interview and profile of Chris Iannetta today, yesterday he had a good one with Troy Tulowitzki, completing the rookie trifecta after the Jason Hirsh article on Tuesday.
Speaking of Hirsh, Patrick Saunders at the Denver Post talked to him and his brother Matt about their thoughts on his future with the Rockies. While the headline: "Hirsh a candidate for stardom," might be raising the bar a little high, I could see how the more realistic: "Hirsh a candidate for very good playerdom" wouldn't sell as many papers. Of course, if he does become a star, I'll be as ecstatic as everybody else.
These next two articles are only indirectly related to the Rockies, but Mike Fish's excellent work at ESPN.com investigating the role of steroids in the Dominican is a definite must read. Part One went into how the disparity between the lifestyle of an MLB player, or even of a six figure bonus baby, and that of the rest of the poverty stricken Dominicans encourages young players to use performance enhancers to get the attention of scouts. Former Rockies shortstop Juan Uribe has some things to say on the subject, among others.
Part Two looks into personal trainer Angel Presinal, who maintains an impressive list of clientele despite MLB's attempts to blackball him for an incident at a Toronto airport involving known steroid user and former client, Juan Gonzalez.
Update [2007-2-15 10:28:22 by Rox Girl]: