The Pirates have already decided that they’ll enter the 2017 season with a different outfield arrangement than in the past. Andrew McCutchen, who has handled center field for most of his career, will shift to right field. Starling Marte will take McCutchen’s place in center field, and Gregory Polanco will shift from the right to the left corner. In this write-up, Connor Byrne mentions Marte’s superlative Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating numbers over the past few years, which likely contributed to the decision.
Form Rockies’ manager Clint Hurdle said that the move will “maximize outfield production” and that the players have demonstrated professionalism in discussing and announcing the changes.
ESPN’s Jim Bowden picked up this change and suggested in a brief blurb that the Rockies could take a lesson from this as well. He suggests it might make sense to have David Dahl in center and move Charlie Blackmon to left field. In theory, this alignment makes a lot of sense. While there were a lot of questions about Dahl’s bat while he was going through the minors, nobody really doubted his athleticism and ability to handle center field.
The difference between the Pirates and Rockies is that Dahl doesn’t have multiple years worth of defensive stats to support a change, and Charlie Blackmon is no center field slouch. Even though Dahl might very well be the best center fielder on the team right now, the situations are not quite the same. And it’s not the worst thing in the world to have a left fielder with center fielder capabilities.
Purple Row’s Nick Stephens dives into the reasons why the Rockies should be viewed as contenders this season. In particular, he highlights the team’s young core and the many positive signs the club showed during 2016, even if it was a below .500 season. It’s been a fun offseason thinking about the many ways in which the Rockies can succeed in 2017, and this article is a nice addition to it. But I think we’re all about ready to see the Rockies test these theories out.
We also heard sad news yesterday. Eric Young Jr. lost a child, Eric Young III, just one day after he was prematurely delivered in late January. EY Jr. writes on his Instagram page, “If you know me or see me, please do not be scared, or nervous to come speak. Hugs are welcomed for Love will help my wife and I get through this.”
Rockies fans, I’m confident, do feel like they know him. Because of his father’s history with the team, we felt like we knew him immediately and more intimately than other players he came up with. The relationship, of course, was still arms length. That’s just the nature of the dynamic between the fan and the athlete. Speaking just for myself though, he and his family will be in my thoughts today.