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Who would make an ideal cleanup hitter for the 2018 Rockies?

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Rockies news and links for March 1, 2018

The dos and don’ts of picking a cleanup hitter | ESPN
Rockies Manager Bud Black was recently asked about the possibility of Trevor Story batting in the cleanup spot in the lineup in 2018. Black didn’t give a definitive answer about Story’s placement in the lineup, but he did emphasize what he believes a cleanup hitter does well. Black says, “The guys who do knock in runs, the guys who get it done in situations, those guys put the ball in play.” ESPN’s Bradford Doolittle expands upon this idea in a very interesting piece of analysis.

If you haven’t already checked it out for yourself, Baseball Musings has a lineup analysis tool where you can insert player’s on-base and slugging percentages and it will generate an ideal lineup for you. I have found myself playing with this optimization tool quite a bit, and it’s easy to overanalyze lineups using it. Ultimately, you might score 10-15 more runs a season if you send out your ideal lineup, but the variances between who bats second versus who bats fourth could be so miniscule that there is virtually no difference. Ultimately, you score more runs when you have a high-OBP presence leading off, your best hitter batting second, and your best RBI-guy batting fourth. The best RBI man bats fourth as opposed to third because the cleanup spot is the only place in the lineup where the hitter comes to bat with runners on base at least 50% of the time.

So, what kinds of players have had the most success driving in runners while batting cleanup? Doolittle has the full analysis, but Black appears to be on to something. Ultimately, the most success is had by patient hitters who have a medium degree of contact skills in RBI situations. As the data show, Story is not representative of that type of player—“self-admitted[ly]” so, says Black. Surely, Story and Black are placing an emphasis on increasing the shortstop’s contact skills, and he certainly has the talent to be that kind of player, but he has not been an ideal cleanup hitter in his young career thus far. The ideal names that Doolittle reveals may be a bit surprising- Mitch Haniger of the Seattle Mariners, Russell Martin of the Toronto Blue Jays, Shin-soo Choo of the Texas Rangers, Tommy Pham of the St Louis Cardinals, and Eugenio Suarez of the Cincinnati Reds.

Colorado Rockies: 3 things that need to happen for a new lineup to work | Rox Pile
Aside from the cleanup spot, there is likely to be a new leadoff hitter in 2018 as Charlie Blackmon has been batting third in Cactus League action to begin the spring. Raimel Tapia has seen his fair share of leadoff duties, with David Dahl and Ian Desmond also seeing some time batting first.

‘So far, so good’ as Rockies youngsters stake their claim for roster spots | Mile High Sports
Not even a full week into Spring Training games, not much can be deciphered from statistics, but Tapia, Ryan McMahon, Mike Tauchman, and Jordan Patterson have all shown well in the early going. Meanwhile, David Dahl has yet to record his first hit of the spring. Black made sure to make mention of all the positive contributions he has seen from the young guys, while being careful to note that none of them have outright won a spot on the Opening Day roster just yet.

O’Malley trying to be Rockies’ jack-of-all-trades | Rockies.com
We mustn’t forget about Shawn O’Malley, who is attempting to earn a utility role on the Rockies bench. For his part, O’Malley said he’s willing to do whatever the club asks of him if it means earning a spot on the roster. “Infield, outfield…catch, pitch, whatever they need,” O’Malley says.

Colorado Rockies taking big chances by not taking any chances | Rox Pile
With Logan Morrison signing with the Minnesota Twins and Lucas Duda signing with the Kansas City Royals in recent days, the Rockies are growing increasingly likely to rely upon an in-house option(s) at first base. While the Rox are not taking chances in free agency, they are taking a chance on their farm system, as Rox Pile’s Kevin Henry writes.

Bryan Shaw signed with the Colorado Rockies at the Indians endorsement | Rox Pile
Bryan Shaw and the Cleveland Indians never seemed likely to come to an agreement on financial terms for his new contract, so the team helped play an integral role in helping Shaw choose his new organization. Indians Manager Terry Francona, General Manager Mike Chernoff, and president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti had nothing but positive things to say about the Rockies.

Nolan Arenado’s not-so-subtle message to the Rockies’ front office | Mile High Sports
Aniello Piro of Mile High Sports expands upon recent comments from Nolan Arenado, who voices that he really wants Carlos Gonzalez to return to the Rockies. Piro believes that the Rockies would be wise to reunite with CarGo if they would like to keep Arenado in Denver for the long-term. For his part, Arenado believes Gonzalez can “absolutely” have a bounce-back campaign in 2018.

Colorado Rockies: What happens after the Wild Card game? | Rox Pile
Rox Pile’s Olivia Greene imagines a hypothetical scenario where the Rockies win the National League Wild Card Game in 2018 and then must face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Division Series. For this to happen, the Rockies will undoubtedly need to get offensive contributions from players not named Arenado or Blackmon.

Spring Training recap
Hopefully you didn’t cancel the World Series parade just yet because the Rockies won a game on Wednesday! The Rockies compiled 15 hits and improved to 2-4 on the season with 9-3 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks. Tyler Anderson made his first start of the spring for the Rox, and allowed one earned run in 2 innings of work. The real pitching star of the day was Yency Almonte (PuRP No. 8), who retired all nine batters he faced, with two strikeouts. Non-roster invitee Brooks Pounders pitched a scoreless inning of work.

On offense, Desmond went 0-for-3 leading off the game and playing first base. Dahl, getting the start in left field, also went 0-for-3 to continue his slow start to the spring. Tom Murphy, vying for the backup catcher role, hit a solo home run in the top of the second inning, helping what has otherwise been a slow start to the spring for him. McMahon (1-2, 2B), Tapia (2-3, 2B, RBI), and Tauchman (1-3, 2B) continued their strong months of February. Five runs scored in the top of the 9th after six straight singles from Brian Mundell (PuRP No. 13), Anthony Bemboom, Yonathan Daza (PuRP No. 19), Brendan Rodgers (PuRP No. 1), Noel Cuevas, and Garrett Hampson (PuRP No. 9).