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Rockies season review 2014: Michael Cuddyer's strong offensive year limited by injuries, poor defense

Unfortunately, being a professional hitter and great dude doesn't keep you off the DL.

Justin Edmonds

We like numbers here at the mom's-basement-dwelling establishment known as Purple Row. Here are some that caught my eye this morning:




The first of those three figures is Michael Cuddyer's slash line in his three seasons with the Colorado Rockies. Those are damn-good percentages regardless of where you call home. That leads me into the second number, Cuddyer's OPS+. A good-but-not-great figure, but had you told me when he signed with Colorado that Cuddy would be 26 percent better than the league-average hitter over the course of his contract, I would have jumped out of my shoes.

But then, of course, there's the last figure: the average number of games in which Cuddyer played from 2012 through 2014. And people rag on Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. Yikes.

There's no doubt that Michael Cuddyer was an extremely productive hitter during his time with the Rockies, but he just couldn't stay on the field. That's the story of the franchise in its current state, sure, but it's also the story of Cuddyer's 2014.

What happened

A lot of great things at the plate. Cuddyer appeared in 16 of the team's first 17 games of the season and hit .317/.373/.533 with six walks and only seven strikeouts during that stretch. It was beginning to look like a great follow-up to a season that ended in a batting championship.

Then, the hamstring injury happened.

Cuddyer missed a little more than a month after getting hurt in the Rockies' 3-1 win in San Diego on April 17 but didn't miss a beat when he returned to the field. The 35-year-old veteran posted almost the same production, hitting .317/.359/.467 in his next 15 games.

Then, Walt Weiss happened.

By the numbers
Michael Cuddyer, 2014
AVG .332
OBP .376
SLG .579
OPS+ 149
HR 10
BB 14
SO 30
Rdrs* -5
rWAR 1.2

* -- Defensive runs saved above average (provided by Baseball Info Solutions)

The Rockies' manager wanted to keep as many productive bats in the lineup as he could after Nolan Arenado was lost to a broken finger, so Weiss decided to insert Michael Cuddyer at third base. That proved to be a terrible idea when Cuddy broke his shoulder diving for a ball in a 12-7 loss to the Diamondbacks at Coors Field on June 5.

Cuddyer returned from the shoulder injury just in time for a doubleheader on the day of Todd Helton's jersey retirement ceremony and one-upped the Rockies legend by hitting for the cycle in the nightcap. Unfortunately, it came at a price; Cuddyer reaggravated his hammy injury and wound up back on the shelf for a couple of weeks.

This time, Cuddyer wasn't out for long and, once again, No. 3 came back strong. The Virginia native hit .333/.365/.650 with 15 extra-base hits over the final 15 games of the season and finished the 2014 campaign a .332/.376/.579 hitter, good for a 149 OPS+.

2014 Grade: B

Cuddyer was excellent at the plate in 2014. The problem with his season, of course, was twofold:

1. He appeared in only 49 games.

2. He was five runs below average in the field.

It's hard to give him too low of a grade, but he certainly can't get an A, either. In fact, I was leaning on Incomplete, but consider this a nice parting gift for a classy guy and good ballplayer who recently spurned a $15.3 million qualifying offer everyone thought he'd take for a two-year, $21 million deal with the New York Mets.