Predicting the Colorado Rockies’ 2014 Opening Day Lineup
Predicting the Colorado Rockies' 2014 Opening Day Lineup
The Colorado Rockies enter the post-Todd Helton era searching for some answers.
Helton was the Rockies first baseman for the past 17 seasons, hitting a career .316 with 369 home runs and 1,406 RBIs over the course of 2,247 career games. He was also a five-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger award winner and three-time Gold Glove winner. His departure leaves a huge hole in the lineup and in the clubhouse as he was a very well respected player.
The Rockies have not made the playoffs since 2009 and have tumbled down the division standings, finishing in fifth place in the NL West in each of the last two seasons. The Rockies will look to turn things around this year behind a dangerous lineup.
The first order of business for the Rockies is figuring out who will replace Helton and Dexter Fowler, who was traded to the Houston Astros in a head scratching move. I say head scratching because the Rockies traded their leadoff man away for two players, Brandon Barnes and Jordan Lyles, who aren't even locks to make the big league team. Barnes is in a battle to be a reserve outfielder, and Lyles is looking to grab one of the spots in the starting rotation.
The Rockies brought in Justin Morneau and Drew Stubbs to fill the vacancies, and they should be key parts of the lineup. If the Rockies are to make the playoffs this year, they should be big reasons why.
With Spring Training getting underway, here's a look at what the Rockies' lineup should look like on Opening Day.
1. Carlos Gonzalez, Left Field
Carlos Gonzalez is a leading candidate to take over Dexter Fowler's spot at the top of the lineup. The outfielder has posted on base percentages of over .360 and had at least 20 stolen bases in each of the last four seasons. Those would be some good numbers for a leadoff hitter, and without another everyday player option for the spot, Gonzalez should see quite a few leadoff at bats.
2. Nolan Arenado, Third Base
Nolan Arenado broke into the majors last season and hit .267 with 10 home runs and 52 RBIs in 133 games. Back for a second year, Arenado should make some strides at the plate and could be a great candidate to bridge the gap between Gonzalez at the top of the lineup and the heart of the order.
3. Troy Tulowitzki, Shortstop
Troy Tulowitzki should be the No. 3 batter in the lineup. He hit .312 with 25 home runs and 82 RBIs last year and has proven that he belongs in the heart of the order. The three-hole would be a great spot for Tulowitzki, as it gives him a great chance to drive in runs with Gonzalez at the top of the lineup.
4. Michael Cuddyer, Right Field
Tulowitzki should be protected in the lineup by last seasons NL batting champ, Michael Cuddyer. The right fielder hit .331 last season, hitting 20 home runs and driving in 84 RBIs. With Gonzalez moving to the top of the lineup, Cuddyer is a capable option to fill in in the middle of the lineup.
5. Justin Morneau, First Base
Justin Morneau will join Cuddyer, his former teammate with the Minnesota Twins, in the middle of the lineup. The former All-Star has suffered from concussions for the past few seasons and his play has declined. Fully healthy this year, Morneau could add a lot of production to the Rockies' lineup. If he can return to somewhere near his 30 home run and 100 plus RBI former self, the Rockies could be a greatly improved team.
6. Wilin Rosario, Catcher
Catcher Wilin Rosario should fit in the six-hole. In his third full season in the majors, Rosario will look to make another step up in his improvement. He was solid last season, hitting .292 with 21 home runs and 79 RBIs, and another similar season would be great production for the Rockies.
7. Drew Stubbs, Center Field
Drew Stubbs was an offseason acquisition and should find himself in the mix for quality playing time in center field. Stubbs has struggled a bit at the plate during his career, as he is just a .239 career hitter, but has some above average power for a center fielder. He has hit double digit home runs in each of the past four seasons, including 22 in 2010, and those numbers should translate well in Coors Field as it is known to be a hitters' ballpark. Stubbs also provides a threat on the base paths, having stolen over 30 bases in three of the past four seasons.
8. D.J. LeMahieu, Second Base
D.J. LeMahieu brings a respectable .283 career average into the Rockies' lineup this season. LeMahieu will be in a battle with last year's Opening Day starter at second, Josh Rutledge, for the spot this season. LeMahieu brings a better bat the the lineup, as Rutledge hit just .235 last year, and should see the majority of the playing time.
9. Jorge De La Rosa, Pitcher
Jorge De La Rosa returned from an injury that cost him the end of the 2011 season, as well as most of the 2012 one, to go 16-6 with a 3.49 ERA in 30 starts last year. On a pitching staff that has been the Rockies' weakness over the past few seasons, De La Rosa brings an experienced and proven arm to the rotation and he should get the Opening Day start.