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2010 Rockies Player Review: Brad Eldred

They call him Big Country, but I think that's a disservice to the original (at least for my age group) Big Country, Bryant Reeves.  Reeves has seven inches and up to 30 pound on Eldred.  Those of you who are college basketball fans over the age of 20 may remember Reeves breaking a backboard during practice for the 1995 Final Four.  He was a large man.

Is this relevant?  Based on size alone, I'm not sure he's earned the nickname.  Does he earn it on his power?  Eldred is known for being a minor league slugger.  He's hit a home run once in about every 15 at bats in the minors.  It's better than the minor league rate of sluggers Joe Koshansky (1 in ~17), Jack Cust (1 in 19) and Carlos Pena (1 in 20), but not quite as good as Russell Branyan (1 in ~13).  He definitely has some power (30 HR, .566 minor league SLG in 2010).

In 2010, Brad Eldred made 27 plate appearances for the Rockies.  He struck out 10 times in 24 at bats.  Sure, it's a small sample size, but he's struck out in 39.6% of his 260 major league at bats.  In 3004 minor league at bats, he's struck out 30.4% of the time. 

He strikes out a lot, but is that all there is to him?  To his 2010 appearance with the Rockies?

Eldred was blocked at first by Giambi, but he was with the Rockies for most of July.  In that time, he had two noteworthy games: July 7 vs. the Cardinals and July 10 vs. the Padres.  On the 7th, the Rockies were down 7-4 going into the bottom of the eighth.  Eldred led off the inning with a double, and after a Barmes ground out and Stewart walk, Fowler tied the game with a three run bomb.  Awesome.  Iannetta hit a walk-off in the next inning to end it.  On July 10th, Eldred hit his only home run of the year, a two-run shot in the sixth to double the Rockies lead.

Both games were Rockies wins (4-1 overall when Eldred starts), so maybe Jim Tracy didn't recognize that Eldred is a Good Luck Dragon.  

I don't want to read into Eldred's 2010 major league line.  One disappointing thing stands out about his career: his low walk rate.  It's around 8% for his minor league career.  This past season, he had a 7.6% walk rate in AAA (his two walks in 24 ML at bats come out to 7.4%).  For comparison, Joe Koshansky's minor league walk rate is 13%.

As for defense, the UZR numbers aren't important but he didn't make any errors in 46 innings at first.  Given his size and weight, I'm guessing he's not exactly Andres Galarraga.  Totalzone doesn't think much of his minor league defense (2009: -7 runs in 63 games).

Eldred hit 30 home runs in the Springs last year, but only one for the big team.  Without offering anything exceptional in the way of a walk rate/OBP (career high .344 OBP in AAA), Eldred really needs to crush pitches to stick around the big leagues. 

Grade: This is arbitrary, but C.  Eldred was confined by the roster construction, but he also didn't show great on-base skills in AAA (.327 OBP, 7.6% BB).  For a guy that hadn't demonstrated his power in the major leagues in five years that doesn't inspire confidence when Giambi's on the roster.

2011:  The Giants signed Eldred as an NRI on January 14.  With a crowded infield and outfield, a lot will have to go wrong for the Giants and right for Eldred for him to get a shot (not an unfavorable scenario for Rockies fans).  He has Huff and Ishikawa ahead of him at first base.  I'm not writing him off, but it's hard to imagine Eldred is going to get his shot in 2011.