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Tuesday Rockpile: The fate of Corpas, Hurdle's lineup, and statistical musings

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Finally hearing the racket from the Row (and apparently the clubhouse), Clint Hurdle has decided to solidify his starting line-up.  At least more than it has been.  Despite his recent struggles (2 for his last 17), Dexter Fowler is being given the CF job for indefinitely, leaving only LF and 2B as the only variable positions.

"I want to give this lineup a chance to go. With Dexter (Fowler) in center, we only have two positions where we are looking to move people in and out: second and left field," Hurdle said. "We will play the hot hand accordingly."-Renck

No word on the consistency of the actual batting order.

Also of note in the article, Manny Corpas has one more chance before being demoted, Greg Smith threw five innings in extended spring training, and Taylor Buchholz will throw his second bullpen session today.

Thomas Harding touches on the likelihood of Alan Embree finishing his career with 900 appearances, good for the top 30 all-time.

Amy Nelson at has an in-depth feature on former Rockies first-round pick Matt Harrington, seventh overall.  The right-hander turned down a $4million offer from the Rockies in 2000 after his agent asked for $4.95million, a 25% increase overall 1999 1st overall pick Josh Hamilton.  Harrington was drafted a record five times, never signed, and now works in Costco tire shop.  I wish I were joking.


Strength and speed

Before yesterday, the Rockies were the only MLB team without a HR with at least two runners on base.  Chris Iannetta's grand slam finally changed that...

...How do you recover from trading away your best hitter, he who led your team in HR each of the last three years?  Well, you hit HR as a team.  The Rockies have an MLB-best eight hitters with at least 3 HR, nearly double the league average of 4.23, and nearly three standard deviations higher.  The A's, Giants, and Mariners only have one such 3 HR batter, and Matt Holliday is not one of them...

...The Rockies are currently in 2nd place in HR in the NL, trailing by one, and it's not just Coors Field. No team has more road HR in the NL than your Colorado Rockies...

...I was personally more worried about losing speed from last year's roster.  In shedding Matt Holliday, Willy Taveras, and Scott Podsednik, Colorado lost 108 SB's from last year's roster, worth 77% of the team's total.  Naturally, the Rockies rank #1 in SB in the NL, without a single proven SB threat at the major league level.  Rockie thieves are safe an impressive 75% of the time.  Thank you Dex.

...That means the Rockies are in position to finish #1 in both HR and SB in the NL.  When was the last time a team lost a three-peat HR leader and over 75% of its SBs from the previous year to turn around and lead the league in both categories, all without adding a notable hitter via trade or free agency to fill that need?  Don't look at me...I have no clue.

More fun prodding data after the fold.

RAR - Rockies pitchers are mean at the plate

Sunday, Rox Girl evaluated the NL West starting pitchers via RAR (runs above replacement) with the assistance of fangraphs.  I decided to take into account offensive contributions as well, since the pitchers' bats contribute to the game, whether we want them to or not.

The Rockies have a strong advantage in at the plate for starting pitchers.  In fact, of the six that manage to meet replacement level, three call Coors Field home:

Pitcher Hitting RAR
Marquis 1.0
Geer 0.9
Morales 0.7
Jimenez 0.5
Gaudin 0.0
Silva 0.0

The full chart is available here. Note that due to small sample size, Geer, Morales, Gaudin and Silva could easily experience large fluctuation with one additional start.

This gives Rockies pitchers a small assist over pitching-only RAR numbers.  Jason Marquis and Ubaldo Jimenez slide up to be among the top six most valuable starters in the division so far.

Pitcher Pitching RAR Hitting RAR Total RAR
Haren 14.6 -1.9 12.7
Lincecum 12.0 -1.7 10.3
Billingsley 11.2 -0.9 10.3
Marquis 5.9 1.0 6.9
Wolf 7.4 -1.5 5.9
Jimenez 5.3 0.5 5.8

Full chart available here.