Welcome to "From The Rooftop." Every Wednesday, we will be the prototypical Party Deck Rockies fans. Sometimes we will talk seriously about the Rockies. Sometimes we will enjoy the sunshine and barely pay attention to the game being played. Depends on the day. The point is, I'm all about the baseball fan experience in its entirety.
★ ★ ★
The worst part of family get-togethers is when my overachieving older sister comes back to town. We sit down for a meal and without even trying, she exudes arrogance across the table. She could be talking about something entirely irrelevant to her success, but her sheer existence casts shade on my mediocrity.
At Coors Field, the number 17 plaque over the bullpen is my overachieving sister. It stares down at the spot on the diamond where it once stood, contrasting its past glory with the relatively dim light of those who came after it. We saw it across town with number 7 and the revolving door of quarterbacks after Elway, and we are seeing it again in the wake of Todd Helton's pony ride into the sunset.
Since Helton retired, we have now witnessed players like Justin Morneau, Wilin Rosario, Jordan Pacheco, and professional manscaper Ben Paulsen play somewhere between passable and outright terrible. Paulsen is now paired with the possibly-blind free agent signing Mark Reynolds, in what most fans of the club expect to be an unimpressive platoon. I have no complaints with patching together these two for what is expected to be a non-competitive season. We are building for the future anyway—there’s a reason the Rockies are looking to familiarize Ryan McMahon with the less-hot corner this season in Hartford.
That said, we all have to watch these games this year, and I would like to see them at least win some of them. For this team to hold it's own, a lot would fall on the shoulders of Paulsen and Reynolds, as they are typically plugged into the heart of the lineup.
So far this season, the platoon's showing has been ambiguous. Paulsen is hitting .360 (nine for 25) and Reynolds is hitting an acceptable .281 (seven for 29). But the results ring hollow with the pair combining for only 8 runs, 12 RBIs, and an unsightly 22 strikeouts. The motto about small sample size has been worn into the ground, and while you can draw conclusions from these stats, you certainly have to look further back to get an idea of how the next 148 games will go.
If there’s one phrase that all the stat-heads love, it’s, "regression to the mean." Basically, that means that guys are likely to do what they have always done. Instead of looking at the last 14 games it's more telling to look at past seasons. Reynolds has put up the same stat lines every year for the last decade. Unless Coors Magic turns up to David Blaine levels, we can expect another home run-or-bust season from Reynolds. He knows how to park one in the seats, and he is the Steph Curry of striking out. When a man has been doing the same thing for as long as he has, there isn't much left to discuss.
Paulsen has a shorter track record though, so he is a little bit tougher to predict. In what amounts to a full season's worth of games in his career, Paulsen’s offensive output has looked notably opposite from Reynolds. He has slashed .285/.333/.483, but he strikes out about as much as Reynolds. And while Reynolds gets on base at a decent clip, he doesn’t have incredible power numbers.
Knowing their pedigrees, the next question to ask is, "how should Walt Weiss use these two?" The presumed original plan was a traditional platoon with Paulsen hitting against righties and Reynolds taking on southpaws. But with neither player showing significant platoon splits and having significantly different approaches, it’s not quite as clear cut as righties and lefties.
While I like the idea of Mark Reynolds peppering the pickup truck out above the concourse with his moon shots, I think it is time to give Ben Paulsen a shot at a full-time gig. With how Coors Field plays, the guy with the most success will be the guy who is able to make the most hard contact. After all, those huge gaps only pay off if the ball is flying in their general direction. Paulsen also strikes out his fair share, but he also has shown a higher batting average. His resume against left-handers is extremely short since he has never had a full-time gig, and I think it is worth giving him a bigger piece of the pie. Reynolds' signature is his power but recent history shows that the two players have comparable power numbers against lefties in their career. Logically speaking, if both players have shown similar power numbers, the guy who consistently drops in singles should get the nod.
I'm not going to sit here and pretend like Paulsen is going to be getting introduced at the All-Star Game any time soon. But he has shown the offensive ability to warrant a less-even split in playing time than we have seen in the first two weeks of the season. Who knows? Maybe by the end of the season Paulsen could be on his way out of that shadow.