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Tuesday Rockpile: Wherein We Reason That The Rockies CAN In Fact Make the Playoffs and Also Illustrate Just How Awesome Carlos Gonzalez is at Hitting Baseballs, Version 17

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Yeah, I'm a broken record.  So what?  At least the arguments change.

Here is your lesson in hope today:

The Rockies have completed their season series against six National League teams - all six of those teams are below the Rockies in the standings.  That means Colorado has head-to-head matchups scheduled against all six teams ahead of them in the NL.   While that makes for a difficult schedule, it also represents opportunity.

The following stemmed from a line of thought derived from my Rockpile yesterday, and part came from a Twitter conversation with Troy Renck.  The Rockies could use some help getting right side up, but how much?  Given the head-to-head matchups, Colorado can control their destiny a bit.  The formula is simple:  subtract the head-to-head matchups (potential games gained) from the games behind in the loss column, and we are left with the number of games the Rockies cannot make up on a team on their own:

    Team GB (Losses) Games vs. Help Number
Cardinals           4          4           0
Reds           4          4           0
Giants           4          6          -2
Phillies           4          1          +3
Braves           5          3          +2
Padres           7          6          +1

Regardless of who wins the NL Central and who falls into wild card contention, the Rockies control their destiny against both the Reds and Cards.  Even if the Rockies lose one game to the Giants, they remain in control.  Going 4-2 in the remaining series would require just two games of help.  The Padres are sure to slip a bit with their tough schedule, but even without that, they are within reaching distance.

The problem lies in the NL East, specifically with the Phillies.  If Atlanta holds on for the division, there is not much the Rockies can control directly to catch Philadelphia.  That 4-game sweep at Citizens Bank really hurts now.  If there's any team to root against  down the stretch, make it the dirty Phillies.

Of course, all this assumes the Rockies catch fire and can sweep series, which is questionable, but at least they have a winning record against winning teams.

Gonzalez red-hot as Rockies eye stretch run | MLB.com: News - Thomas Harding supplies us with more stats on Carlos Gonzalez for us to swoon at.  Plain and simple, a 24-year-old should not lead MLB LH hitters in home runs of LHP.  Or have the best left-on-left batting average in the National League.  That's for veteran and/or slap hitters, not young power guys.  Nor should he be ranked 10th in the NL in batting vs LHP, right-handed hitters included.  This is coming from a guy who hit .215 vs LHP in AA in 2007, just before being traded to Oakland.

As pointed out by amoeba in the Rockpile yesterday, CarGo currently leads all MLB players in fantasy points in ESPN's leagues (7th on MLB.com).  Needless to say, Rockies fans are pretty happy with their slugger.  However, his fantasy placement got me thinking - with RBI being so heavily weighted in fantasy value, it is counterintuitive for CarGo to be that high.  After all, he has more AB in the leadoff role than in the 3-hole.  Obviously, he must be producing when it counts.

CarGo's RISP numbers are very close to his season numbers, but it feels like there has to be something more there.  There is, and I found the stat to prove it:  OBI%.  It is essentially the percentage of runners on base during CarGo's at-bats this season that score as a result of his plate appearance.  This goes deeper than RISP avg in that it also rewards a hitter for driving in multiple runs on one play or driving in a runner from first base.  Simplified, OBI=RBI-HR.  So guess who leads all NL hitters in OBI%?  You want a player who comes through in the "clutch?"  We have one.  That may not be a good predictive statistic, but it sure does illustrate how valuable CarGo has been at putting runs on the board.

Troy Renck added a story on CarGo's rising MVP contending status.  Included was this quote:

"I don't ever remember seeing someone barrel so many balls up," first baseman Todd Helton said. "Everything he hits is hard."

That is high praise from the franchise home run leader and Hall of Fame quality talent.

 

Rockies' Stewart still short of being go-to guy - The Denver Post - Can you imagine if Ian Stewart took the leap forward that Gonzalez has?  He is improved from last year, but he is essentially posting the same slash line (.258/.346/.455) as he did in 2008 (.259/.349/.455).  It is worth noting that a 53 point drop in BABIP between those two years has been buffered by a decreased K rate and increased walk rate.

His demeanor has been touched on here as well, which Stewart addresses in the article:

"I have had people not necessarily question whether I care, but if I was just happy to be here. I have never been real fiery. That's not my personality," Stewart said. "I throw it all out there when I am on the field. I am just not one to react openly."