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Saturday Rockpile: 2013 Opening Day Second Basemen - Josh Rutledge...or Chris Nelson?

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September 21, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies third baseman Chris Nelson (10) hits a sacrifice RBI during the third inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Coors Field.  Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE
September 21, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies third baseman Chris Nelson (10) hits a sacrifice RBI during the third inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE

Prior to 2012, Josh Rutledge was tabbed as the Rockies' Opening Day second baseman as early as 2013 on the strength of his breakout season in High-A Modesto. After some bumps early, Rutledge torched the Texas League, then appeared in a Rockies uniform and just kept on hitting. Rutledge's name started to transform from pencil to sharpie with every extra base hit.

It isn't so clear anymore. Rutledge has hit .192 in 84 plate appearances since September 1, striking out 20 times. Meanwhile, Chris Nelson has used that time to hit .361/.387/.569 with three home runs and earn an NL Player of the Week honor. Nelson has quietly pushed his wRC+ to 104 for the season, while Rutledge's struggles have dropped him to 115. That's bordering on a breakout season from Nelson.

The former first rounder may have figured something out, and he will be out of options in 2013. Conversely, the 23-year-old Rutledge has three remaining. It has been assumed that Nelson and/or Jordan Pacheco would lose a starting role next season to Josh Rutledge and Nolan Arenado. Nelson's surge might change the dynamic again. The argument is now open for the next six months.

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