Colorado Rockies‘ left fielder Carlos Gonzalez should not only be on the National League All-Stars roster, he should be starting. I would guess few would argue that statement. How could they? CarGo leads the NL in most batting categories to including HR, runs, RBI and he possesses arguably the best swing in all of baseball. If the game doesn’t start with Colorado’s numero cinco in left field, chalk it up as an injustice.
But CarGo is not the only Rockies outfielder that should be considered for the All-Star game. Michael Cuddyer has hit an unprecedented Colorado stride that has his name mentioned in national broadcasts each time the Rockies suit up.
The reason? He holds the longest current hit streak in baseball, now at 27 after an eighth inning single in a losing effort to the San Francisco Giants Sunday at Coors Field. He also leads all NL outfielders in batting average and sits in second, a mere .001 behind leader St. Louis Cardinals‘ catcher Yadier Molina.
And that hit streak, don’t fool yourself, it means a tremendous amount to the team and those who religiously follow them. Sunday, Cuddyer was 0-3 when he stepped to the plate in the bottom of the eighth inning. Cuddyer would hit a Sandy Rosario pitch back up the middle to extend the streak. Despite trailing 5-1 at the time and the probability of a win lost – Coors Field exploded.
But what makes Cuddyer great and so important to the Rockies organization is the fact he would have gladly taken a walk in his final at bat ending the streak if he knew it would help his club. Don’t get me wrong, Cuddyer’s stats are solid, arguably All-Star solid.
However, it is the contributions that do not show up in a stat line that make Cuddyer such an asset to the Rockies. If hustle points were a stat, chances are he’d lead the NL in that category.
Let me rephrase that – he would own the category with no one close.
Cuddyer does the small things, the things that aren’t stat lines or worthy of Sports Center’s Top 10, but equally import to his team.
You won’t see him jogging to first, even if he hit the ball back to the pitcher. Every time he puts the ball in play, he forces teams to make a play. When hit to the left side of the field, if a shortstop or third baseman doesn’t cleanly field and throw the ball, they won’t get Cuddyer. And there have been countless examples where errors were made by opposing defenses simply because Cuddyer’s hustle forced a rush throw.
He simply roles up his sleeves and does whatever it takes to get the job done. And his technique is arguably the best in baseball. From fielding to hitting to running bases, if you need a role model that is fundamentally sound with superior mechanics to teach a young person how to play the game – Cuddyer is that person. Next time you watch the Rockies play, if the opportunity presents itself, watch Cuddyer’s foot work in right field or how he plays first base or how well he can break up a double play…I could go on and on.
Finally, All-Stars are measured by their importance to their respective teams. Colorado has shown they historically struggle minus Troy Tulowitzki at shortstop. This season, the Rockies have similarly struggled minus Cuddyer’s bat and leadership and presence in the lineup.
If the Rockies aren’t “The” story in the NL in 2013, they are certainly one of them. Even folks that don’t follow the Rockies find themselves tuning in. Why wouldn’t they? They carry the title under dog, generally boast an explosive offense, have developed solid pitching and have a roster full of no names that started the season playing for Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox.
They are the ideal American story for America’s game. Hopefully the proverbial cherry on top of the season will be an NL West Division title, until then serve up an appetizer. Let CarGo cover the left and Cuddyer the right in your All-Star voting.