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Ranking the Rockies: No. 23 Justin Morneau had a quality, but short, final season with the Rockies

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Justin Morneau performed well in his injury shortened 2015.

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Unless the Rockies surprise and bring Justin Morneau back on a cheap deal, we can close the book on the first de jure, if not always de facto, Rockies first baseman of the post-Todd Helton era. Morneau's first year was much more successful than his second, but that was only because of lost playing time in 2015.

After leading the National League with a .319 batting average in 2014, Morneau started off strong in 2015. From Opening Day to May 13, Morneau hit .290/.317/.450 in 104 plate appearances. At the tail end of that run, Morneau missed some days with neck stiffness and dizziness. The latter malady was particularly worrisome given Morneau's concussion history. The Rockies kept him on the 15 day disabled list until early July, when they moved Mroneau to the 60-day DL. It looked like he might miss the entire season. I even thought Morneau might retire.

Morneau, however, worked to return to the Rockies' lineup. He made five rehab appearances with the dearly departed New Britain Rock Cats and then returned to the Rockies in early September. Not only did Morneau make it back, but he also picked up where he left off. In 22 games and 78 plate appearances from September 4 until October 4, Morneau hit .338/.423/.471.

Taken together, Morneau posted a .310/.363/.458 batting line in 2015, which was about seven percent better than league average, according to FanGraphs. The caveat is that he did so in just 182 plate appearances for the entire season.

The Rockies declined their portion of the mutual option that would have paid Morneau $9 million in 2016. He's now a free agent. As far as first base on the Rockies goes, the internal options are thoroughly unexciting, and the external options range from dreamy (hello, Byung-ho Park) to yucky (go away, Daniel Murphy). As we drift further into the post-Helton era, it's becoming clearer that interregnums of interregnums are more normal than decade long stalwarts.