As it turned out, Seth Smith's fantastic offensive performance last night was exquisitely timed, as I had planned to write about him anyway. As in, how he has been the Rockies' best hitter on a rate basis (besides Jason Giambi), but he's gotten 17 fewer plate appearances than Dexter Fowler and how he hasn't appeared in 12 games at all this year despite never really being injured or ineffective.
When he has sat out a game, he's been replaced by a player (Ryan Spilborghs) with an OPS+ that is 65 points lower than his (136 for Smith, 71 for Spilborghs). That's like sitting Troy Tulowitzki for David Eckstein. Speaking of Tulo, Smith ranks second on the team in extra base hits behind Tulo (33 to 30) despite having played in 12 fewer games and getting 80 fewer PAs. As a result, Smith's .239 ISO crushes everyone else's on the team. His .316/.370/.555 line is looks like that of an All-Star.
You want to see a player be "clutch"? Well, Smith's 1.35 win probability added (obtained through great performance in high leverage situations) is a whopping 0.44 above Todd Helton, the second place batter on the team. His .925 OPS, 136 OPS+, and 145 wRC+ are all team-best marks among players with over 100 PAs. Sure, he's been the beneficiary of a .360 batting average on balls in play (well above the .300 or so league average), but you're going to have a higher BABIP when one in four of your balls in play is a screaming line drive.
So why isn't Smith playing every day? He's left-handed, that's why. Sure, in a small sample size Smith has struggled against lefties (.211/.279/.281, 54 wRC+ in 43 PAs this year), but it's not like Spilborghs has been a world-beater against lefties either (.250/.322/.404, 91 wRC+ in 59 PAs). I just want to see the most talented player play, and that's clearly Smith.
Being left-handed hasn't stopped Jim Tracy from playing Charlie Blackmon every day after his call-up. I say it's worth it to let Smith try and hit every day as well -- let's see if with repetition he can rise to Spilborghs' level against lefties. Given his overall stats this year (he's hitting .339/.390./614 against right-handers), it's hard to argue that he shouldn't be given as many PAs as possible.
Scoring (4) Runs Is Really Important Update
Rockies record when scoring 4 or more runs: 30-7. When scoring 3 or less: 7-29. Yep, still really important.
News and Links
Eno Sarris at Fangraphs has an article about the Rockies' treatment of Dexter Fowler and his strikeouts, comparing his situation to that of Ian Stewart and Chris Iannetta.
Satchel Price of Beyond the Boxscore creates his own NL West Dream Team, with the Rockies contributing six players to the effort -- including four of the eight starting position players. When I say that the Rockies have the most offensive talent in the division, I'm not kidding.