Rockies Update

June 23, 2009

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My favorite baseball team, the Colorado Rockies, have been on tear lately.  The Rockies have won 17 of 18 games, dating back to June 4 against Houston.  Their only loss in this stretch was a June 16th game against the Tampa Bay Devils.  That game followed an off day, which is another great reason not to have any off days during the season.  The Rockies are 19-5 under interim manager Jim Tracy after starting the season 18-28 under fired manager Clint Hurdle.

Much maligned shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has played in 16 of those 18 games and has hits in 14 of the 16 games in which he played – good for a .400 batting average during that span.  Tulo has also smacked 5 of his 10 homers during the streak.  For those of you keeping track at home, his OPS (On-base-plus slugging) is nearly identical to the numbers he put up in 2007, when he was putting up numbers deserving of the Rookie of the Year award.  This fact is hidden a bit because injuries have cost him some at bats this year, and because his batting average is lower than it was in 2007.  However, his on base percentage is actually higher than it was in 2007, because of a marked uptick in the number of walks Tulo has drawn.  Keep in mind that the kid is still just 24 years old.

What other players are having good years for the Rockies?

  • Todd Helton finally had back surgery after a sub-par and injury filled 2008 season.  The Toddfather might have a legitimate shot at 30 homers for the season, and he already has 49 RBI.  There is one small area of concern – Helton’s walk rate is the lowest it has been since 1999.  Helton’s walk rate is on the upswing, though, as he already has more walks in June than he did in all of May.  Helton surpassed 2000 career hits earlier in the season, to the surprise of many observers who were under the impression that he had already reached the mark years ago – but Helton’s relatively late start in his career (coming through the college ranks) as well as his propensity for taking walks, has served to limit his at bats a bit.
  • Right fielder Brad Hawpe continues to be the best player that nobody has ever heard of, putting up a .335 batting average and an OPS above 1.000.  Hawpe has been a beast at home this year, with a .400+ batting average at Coors Field.  Over the course of his career, Hawpe has not been a “product of Coors Field”, however.  His career OPS differential is +45 points, compared to a typical hitter who enjoys a 30 point advantage at home.  Hawpe clearly gets some additional benefit from Coors, but not the typical Coors Field boost.
  • 24 year old rookie Ian “Stewie” Stewart has displaced Garrett “I can’t hit no more” Atkins as the starting third baseman.  Stewart’s batting average is still hovering around .225, but he has 13 homers in just 180 at bats in the season, including 6 in 70 June at bats.  Stewart appears to be bouncing back from a dreadful May that saw him post a horrendous .595 OPS, largely as the result of an absurdly low .128 BABIP (batting average on balls in play, a number which is typically around  .300).  Oddly, Stewart has a “reverse split” this year, posting significantly better numbers away from Coors Field.
  • Catcher Chris Iannetta has fought some injuries, but still has 10 homers in just 132 at bats this year, building upon the power he displayed last year (18 homers in 333 at bats, as he shared time with Yorvit Torrealba behind the plate).
  • Off season acquisition Jason Marquis (9-4, 3.71 ERA, 97 innings pitched) leads the Rockies in all three of those categories.
  • Aaron Cook had a horrendous April, posting a 7.11 ERA.  This was attributed to a mechanical problem with his delivery, and Cook has been money in the bank since that point, putting up an ERA below 3.00 since the beginning of May.  With a win last night, Cook became the all time franchise laeder in wins, with 59.  (Note that the Rockies have only been around since 1993 and haven’t had many pitcher hang around very long). 
  • Closer Huston Street  posted a 6+ ERA in April before enjoying a dominant May (0.82 ERA) and a strong June (2.79) as has established himself firmly ahead of Manny Corpas in the closer slot.

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