Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post recently wrote about how Tyler Colvin is working to improve and find his "A" swing.In 2012 Tyler Colvin had a breakout year for the Rockies. He was one of the few bright spots for the club in a dismal season and at age 27; he should be right on the brink of his prime. Naturally then he should be a starter and we should expect big things from him, right? After all, it was only Colvin's third full season in the majors and he's a former 13th overall pick.
Colvin can play all three outfield positions adequately and he can play first base. Todd Helton is likely in his final year and Michael Cuddyer is not getting any younger. Helton in all honesty should not be the starting first baseman for the Rockies this year - Cuddyer should be - and that leaves right field open for Colvin.
The Rockies are a team that is rebuilding. Whether or not they can improve immediately or over several years remains to be seen. Many see this year as one that likely won't end up in a playoff berth - so why not start evaluating our future? Give Colvin a full season of at bats as an everyday starter and see what he can do.
In 2010, Colvin hit .254, drove in 56 runs and had 20 long balls as a rookie. Those are impressive numbers for a rookie to post and that was in only 395 plate appearances. That season was cut short by a freak injury in which a broken bat punctured his chest and briefly hospitalized him. In 2011, Colvin struggled mightily for the Cubs, batting .150 in 80 games and eventually forcing the Cubs' management to send him down to the minors to try and fix his strike-out prone swing. It was a disappointing season for Colvin.
However, after the Rockies traded for him in 2012, Colvin put up numbers much closer to his promising rookie campaign. In fact, Colvin put up better numbers hitting at a .290 clip with 18 home runs and 72 RBIs in 420 plate appearances. He regressed some in the second half of the season, but still hit .279 after the all-star break, although with less pop, hitting only 5 HRs. If Carlos Gonzalez‘s second half struggles can be at least partially blamed on a lack of lineup protection, so too should Colvin's.
Detractors point to Colvin's lack of consistency, poor plate discipline, and of course his 2011 season. Many different factors go into a successful season at the major league level as well as a disappointing one. One such factor for Colvin's abysmal 2011 could be his batting average on balls in play (BABIP). The major league average for BABIP in 2011 was .295. Colvin's was .175, so a lack of luck can certainly explain away at least some of his bad season in 2011.
In 2012, Colvin's BABIP was a very high .364 so an excess of luck can explain his good 2012. Right? Not so fast. It's more likely that an improved approach at the plate led to his success, which in turn bodes well for his future success.
An article last July by Thomas Harding explains how Colvin worked in the offseason and spring training last year to retool his swing and change his approach. This change in approach seems a more likely explanation for his improvement than simply an inflated BABIP. Perhaps Colvin's 2011 was an aberration and his 2012 was a sign of things to come?
In 2013, look for Colvin's BABIP to regress toward the league average, but if he continues to develop a better mentality and approach at the plate, there is no reason not to expect great things from Colvin in 2013.