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FanPost Friday Recap: Predicting the Opening Day Roster

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This ended up being a lot harder than it was supposed to be.

Welcome back to FanPost Friday! Last week we posed what we thought would be a rather innocuous question: Who do you think will be on the Rockies Opening Day 25-man roster? Little did we know what the week had in store.

We had seven responses this time around and, awkwardly enough, less than 72 hours after the prompt went up both Tom Murphy and Ian Desmond were essentially ruled out for Opening Day. Since a majority of folks wrote their posts before this news, we’ll give them a pass in our analysis here.

As this endeavour was a little more democratic in nature, we’re going to break it up into a few sections: the Consensus, the Injured, and the Battles. As usual, you’ll see how some Rowbots justified their roster picks.

First, here is what everyone had:

FanPost Friday Roster Prediction

Pos Tyler88 PDXFlatironsSEA ColordoZebo sdcarp Ozarkbear Arimaris kbscanlan86
Pos Tyler88 PDXFlatironsSEA ColordoZebo sdcarp Ozarkbear Arimaris kbscanlan86
SP1 Gray Gray Gray Gray Gray Gray Gray
SP2 Anderson Anderson Anderson Anderson Anderson Anderson Anderson
SP3 Chatwood Chatwood Chatwood Chatwood Chatwood Chatwood Chatwood
SP4 Marquez Freeland Hoffman Freeland Freeland Bettis* Marquez
SP5 Hoffman Hoffman Marquez Hoffman Hoffman Marquez Hoffman
CL Ottavino Ottavino Holland Ottavino Ottavino Ottavino Ottavino
RP1 Holland Dunn Ottavino Dunn Dunn Dunn Holland
RP2 Dunn Holland McGee Holland Holland McGee Dunn
RP3 McGee Motte Dunn McGee McGee Motte McGee
RP4 Oberg Qualls Senzatela Estevez Motte Oberg Estevez
RP5 Estevez McGee Qualls Motte Oberg Qualls Rusin
RP6 Rusin Lyles Motte Senzatela Rusin Rusin Motte
C Wolters Murphy Wolters Murphy Murphy Murphy Wolters
C Murphy Wolters Murphy Wolters Wolters Wolters Murphy
1B Reynolds Desmond Desmond Desmond Desmond Desmond Reynolds
2B DJ DJ DJ DJ DJ DJ DJ
SS Story Story Story Story Story Story Story
3B Nolan Nolan Nolan Nolan Nolan Nolan Nolan
LF Patterson Parra Dahl Dahl Dahl Parra Dahl
CF Blackmon Blackmon Blackmon Blackmon Blackmon Blackmon Blackmon
RF Cargo Cargo Cargo Cargo Cargo Cargo Cargo
OF Parra Patterson Parra Parra Parra Dahl Parra
UTL Amarista Amarista Amarista Amarista Amarista Amarista Valaika
Bench Cardullo Adames Reynolds Patterson Reynolds Reynolds Patterson
Other Senzatela Rusin Valaika Reynolds Senzatela Patterson Diaz
Consensus players in bold

The Consensus

There were 15 players that every person listed on his/her predicted Opening Day roster. This shouldn’t come as a surprise: every team usually has a solid core group of players around which they are building their roster, regardless of contending status. I expected there would be more consensus players, even, but injuries and lack of clarity at the front of the bullpen muddies the waters a bit.

Everyone agreed about the top three starters in the rotation, even down to the order: Jon Gray, Tyler Anderson, and Tyler Chatwood. Several people surely wanted to include Chad Bettis (including sdcarp and Ozarkbear, who included Chad in their titles). Also, everyone put Jeff Hoffman into the rotation (except Arimaris, who couldn’t let Chad go), though there was disagreement on which spot he’d occupy.

Similarly, everyone had Adam Ottavino serving as either the team’s closer or first set-up man (count Colorado Zebo as the optimistic one on Greg Holland). Everyone also had Mike Dunn and Jake McGee serving in the bullpen.

Finally, the lineup. Tony Wolters, DJ LeMahieu, Trevor Story, Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, Carlos Gonzalez, and Gerardo Parra were on each roster, with the only disagreement being what role exactly Parra will fill, but having a big fat contract will land you many a roster.

Injuries

Due to the injuries, several people who wrote their FanPosts early had Ian Desmond as the starting first baseman (only Tyler88 and kbscanlan86 omitted him). He’ll be back soon, but not in time for Opening Day). Same goes for Tom Murphy, who everyone had on their roster, though he won’t be back until mid-April either.

Chris Rusin was also fairly divisive. Most seemed to think he wouldn’t be ready for the rotation but could fill a bullpen role. Though PDXFlatironsSEA, ColoradoZebo, and OzarkBear left him off their rosters completely.

A few folks were willing to put their money on David Dahl returning in time. As sdcarp said, “I'm "guessing" that Dahl will be back and active, but certainly platooning with Parra for at least a month.”

The Battles

This is where it gets a little tricky. Ozarkbear said it best:

In baseball roster construction is not about putting the best 25 men on your MLB team! Reasons are because over the course of 162 games there will be injuries and some players will develop a lack of production that wasn’t expected... Another reason is the development of prospects. It is better to have a prospect to have every day at bats in AAA than to be on the bench in the MLB or to have high leverage AAA innings for a reliever than to have mop up time in MLB.

Thus the challenge of this prompt. Here is how Rowbots think the position battles will play out.

Utility

All but one person placed Alexi Amarista as the utility infielder. It makes sense—he has a major league contract—but few felt good about it. As Arimaris put it: “This is a, "Who is the best of some choices I don't want to make" situation.” In fact, only kbscanlan86 left off Arimaris, subbing him for Pat Valaika, who, as ColoradoZebo (who also had Valaika on his roster) said, “Valaika is crushing the ball this spring so I went with that, plus he has SS/3B versatility which is cool.”

Rotation

Our FanPosters were pretty split on who would fill the final rotation spot behind Hoffman. Arimaris is among those who believes German Marquez will take this spot: “I find something intriguing about German and I want him to earn this spot through a solid spring where he is in the Majors and now is giving us a really strong 5th starter.” Three others considered Kyle Freeland to be the better option in that slot, and he’s making a push to prove them right.

Bullpen

As mentioned before Chris Rusin was a divisive figure in this group. Those who weren’t among the believers had to find a long reliever somewhere, and four of them found it in Antonio Senzatela. Senz missed most of last season but has been impressive so far this spring, and he made a believer out of Tyler88, Ozarkbear, ColoradoZebo, and sdcarp.

Most put Chad Qualls and/or Jason Motte on the roster (“Veteranness wins the day,” as Arimaris put it), while others very intentionally left them off (like Tyler88: “Yes, I did leave out both Qualls and Motte on purpose”). Carlos Estevez and Scott Oberg were the most likely candidates to fill out the rest of the bullpen. Of Oberg, Ozarkbear said, “Someone like Scott Oberg who dominated in high leverage AAA situations would be somebody I like to see further develop in a mop up role.”

Bench

Finally, the end of the roster, the so-called 25th man. We had answers all over the place with this one. Some, as seen above, went with Vailaka. Others wanted to see Jordan Patterson get a shot. Arimaris sees him as something more: “I think he is our actual 4th outfielder in front of Parra. He hits at every level and from what I understand plays serviceable defense in the corner spots for our OF and enough 1B to fill in.”

Most had Mark Reynolds on the roster even before Desmond went down with injury. The idea some had was that he would allow Desmond to play “super sub.” Ozarkbear said, “A veteran that isn’t going to lose hitting ability by inconsistent ABs. He is also the best 1B on the team which gives Desmond the ability to move around if needed.”

PDXFlatironsSEA wanted to five the last spot to Cristhian Adames (also doing well this spring), while Tyler88 wants some more Indy League magic in the form of Stephen Cardullo on the roster.

Lineup

There was surprisingly little variance here. Some swapped DJ and Blackmon at the top, others flipped Nolan and Cargo between the 3-4 positions. Those who acknowledged Dahl’s or Desmond’s injuries offered a little more variance. Only ColoradoZebo predicted a lineup that Bud Black would do differently from their own prediction. Despite most not knowing about Murphy’s injury before writing, many gave Wolters the Opening Day start (sdcarp: “Wolters over Murphy OD because I'm project Zach Davies as the Brewers SP.”).

FanPost Friday Opening Day Lineups

Tyler88 PDXFlatironsSEA ColoradoZebo, Ideal ColoradoZebo, Bud Black sdcarp Arimaris kbscanlan86 Ozarkbear
Tyler88 PDXFlatironsSEA ColoradoZebo, Ideal ColoradoZebo, Bud Black sdcarp Arimaris kbscanlan86 Ozarkbear
Blackmon Blackmon DJ Blackmon Blackmon Blackmon Blackmon Blackmon
DJ DJ Blackmon DJ DJ Story DJ DJ
Cargo Cargo Nolan Cargo Cargo Cargo Nolan Cargo
Nolan Nolan Cargo Nolan Nolan Nolan Cargo Nolan
Story Story Story Desmond Desmond Dahl Desmond Desmond
Reynolds Desmond Dahl Parra Story Desmond Story Dahl/Parra
Patterson Parra Desmond Story Parra Murphy Dahl Story
Wolters Murphy Wolters Wolters Wolters DJ Wolters Murphy
Gray Gray Gray Gray Gray Gray Gray Gray

There you have it! Thanks again to our FanPosters this week. Appropriately enough, this week’s FanPost Friday prompt is related to this exercise and the events of last week. What is your biggest worry about the Rockies right now? Is it a specific injury or is it something else?

Who got the roster right (accounting for injuries, of course)? Which lineup is best? Who do you think should win in the rotation, bullpen, utility, and bench battles? Let us know in the comments.