The offensive highlights of the season for the Rockies came from the two players who have not only proven to be great Colorado Rockies players, but have shown themselves to be two of the best young players in the game.
On July 31st, Carlos Gonzalez led the Rockies to victory when he drove a high fastball 464 feet into the third deck in right field. The home run propelled the club to a walk-off win and Gonzalez to his first-ever cycle.
The other memorable moment from Rockies hitters was Troy Tulowitzki's September for the record books.
By the middle of the month, Tulo had 13 home runs and 30 RBIs. The Rockies record for home runs in a month was 12 and RBIs was 34. The shortstop obliterated both of those records, cooling off slightly and finishing with 15 home runs and 40 RBIs. The hot streak was so incredible that analysts were talking about him having a chance to win the MVP, despite missing 33 games with a broken wrist.
Without further adieu, here are the Rockies infielder and outfielder grades for the 2010 season.
Carlos Gonzalez- A
The 24-year old finally showed what all the scouts have been raving about since he was a teenager. His .336 batting average was good enough for the National League batting crown. On top of that, he finished with 34 home runs and 117 RBIs. His OPS was an incredible .974 despite walking only 40 times. There might be some talk about how Gonzalez isn't a great fielder, despite him only committing one error. Throw that talk out, however, as defensive metrics don't tell the true story. Gonzalez passes the eye test in the outfield. He is one of the best in the game.
Many fans are already wondering why the Rockies haven't locked him up to a long-term deal before he gets too expensive. The answer is simple. Gonzalez is represented by Scott Boras. What that means is that there is little to no chance that Gonzalez will ink his name to a long-term deal in the next four years. For Rockies fans, Gonzalez might not be with Colorado forever, but enjoy the ride, this kid is the real deal.
Troy Tulowitzki- A
Rockies fans can only wonder what might have been had Tulo not been out for 33 games in the middle of the season with a broken wrist. Expect him to finish in the top five in the MVP race. The shortstop in no product of Coors Field either. He hit 12 of his 27 home runs on the road and put up a batting average of .291 despite rarely having anyone on to protect him. Keep in mind, no one in the Yankees starting lineup hit over .300, at home or on the road.
Tulowitzki is the undisputed leader of the Colorado Rockies and it is clear that as Tulo goes, so go the Rockies.
Melvin Mora- B
Mora was brought in to be a guy who could play a wide variety of positions. After a month, it was clear that he belonged nowhere near second base. However, he still played a large part in the Rockies success. He was one of the few players on the team who could be counted on to take a professional at-bat. He fouled pitches off when he was behind in the count and hit the opposite way. With Ian Stewart failing to take the next step forward, Mora was able to fill in the holes and provide a good right-handed bat in the lineup. Mora could be back if the Rockies fail to get a right handed power bat through free agency.
Dexter Fowler- B
Fowler getting a B might turn some heads. There is no doubt that he struggled early on, warranting his demotion to Triple-A for a month. However, what he did from there on out was what was impressive. Instead of whining about being sent down, he took the opportunity to slow the game down and learn. He came back and was a completely different player. He was able to hit from the left side and had confidence at the plate. In addition to what he brought to the plate, he also played incredibly in center field. Down the stretch he robbed three home runs, including two game savers, one against the Cubs and the other against the Brewers.
Ryan Spilborghs- B
Spilborghs is one of those guys that everyone wants to have on their team. He can play both corner outfield positions well, and has a good bat against left-handed pitchers. When his name is in the lineup, no one is looking at him as a liability. On top of that, he is well-known for being a guy who lightens the mood in the clubhouse and keeps everyone loose.
Jason Giambi- B-
Despite Giambi hitting just .244, he had a bigger impact than his numbers. Like Mora, Giambi always took a great at bat. No matter what the count was, Giambi never seemed give in. He always fought for his pitch and had a keen eye for the strike zone. His walk off home run against Jonathan Papelbon gets an honorable mention for best moment of the season.
Miguel Olivo- B-
If someone would have said that Olivo would get a B- for the entire season at the All-Star break, no one would have believed them. Despite getting snubbed out of an All-Star berth, Olivo was the best catcher in baseball through the first half of the season.
The only problem was, for as good as his first half was, his second half was just as bad. In the first half the catcher hit .325 with 11 home runs and 42 RBIs. The second half was completely different, as Olivo hit just .211 with four home runs and 16 RBIs.
Olivo's problem may have been fatigue, or it may have been reality hitting, regardless, his season was the tale of two halves.
Eric Young Jr.- C+
EY still has a long way to go to prove that he can play everyday in the big leagues. However, his attitude suggest that he will prove that he belongs. There is no one who hustles more than Young. He is a player who when he looks good, he looks really good, but when he looks bad, he looks really bad. His defense is still in question at second base, but having him and Fowler at the top of the lineup is very intriguing.
Todd Helton- C
Helton has become everyone's favorite person to hate. People think that because he makes so much money, he should hit to that level. Nevermind the fact that he is 37-years old. Regardless of his age, Helton still plays with a fire that can be seen despite his calm demeanor. He definitely struggled at the plate in 2010, but people forget that after he came off of the disabled list in July he hit .310 the rest of the way. The key for Helton is that the Rockies have a reliable option behind him that can give him enough days off to stay healthy.
Seth Smith- C-
Mr. Late Night apparently forgot to show up most nights. The lefty was pretty good for most of the season, but after he was given his chance to prove that he could play everyday, saying Smith struggled would be a huge understatement.
After Brad Hawpe was released in mid-August, Smith notched just eight hits. Fatigue may have been a factor with Smith, but if it was, he needs to change his off season workout routine. He should be ready to be an everyday player, even if he was coming off of the bench most nights. On the road, sometimes Smith simply disappeared. When he was on camera, he often looked very tired. Many times I had the thought that he might not sleep well on the road. One way or another, the Rockies need Smith to take a step forward in 2011.
Clint Barmes- D+
It is tough to find someone who doesn't love Clint Barmes. He gives Charlie Hustle a run for his name. However, what has helped Barmes to the big leagues is exactly what hinders his career at this point.
The second baseman is very determined. He has his mind set on being good. However, at the plate, he is also very determined. He is determined to be able to his sliders off of the plate in the dirt. He is also determined to be a power hitter. If Barmes would look at himself in the mirror and realize that if he learns to hit the ball the other way and foul pitches off that he can't drive, he would be one of the best second basemen in baseball. Instead, he finds himself striking out too much and being dead weight at the bottom of the lineup.
Ian Stewart- D
The third baseman seems more concerned with updating his Twitter account than reaching his potential. Less than an hour after the Rockies lost to the Giants in a must-sweep series in Denver, Stewart was raving about his new phone on Twitter. While players have their own lives and have to put games behind them and go on with their lives, telling fans about how cool your phone is while they are still sick about the loss is not a good way to gain respect, especially when your season was as poor as Stewart's. The former first round draft pick was one of the young talents that the Rockies were anticipating would take the next step forward. It didn't happen. In fact, Stewart went backwards. When Troy Tulowitzki was quoted in the Denver Post as saying that there were guys who needed to step it up and be more concerned with baseball than "how many vacations they took" in the off season, the common feeling was that he was referring to Stewart.
The problem for Stewart stems from frustration. He has all of the tools to be an All-Star. He can hit the ball a mile and possesses the talent to be a gold glove third baseman and a middle-of-the-lineup guy for years to come.
One thing to keep in mind with Stewart is that he is still very young. At just 25-years old he still has a chance to find a sense of urgency in the big leagues and hit his stride.
Chris Iannetta- F
At this point, his 2008 numbers seem more like the fluke than the rest of his seasons. He is another player who simply can't find a way to take it to the next level. When he isn't striking out, he is hitting weak pop flies to the second baseman. When he was sent down to Colorado Springs in May, his attitude could not have been more opposite of Fowler's.
When I talked to him when I covered the Sky Sox for the Gazette I asked him what he was working on. He responded "I'm not working on anything. My swing is fine. I have never felt more comfortable at the plate. I don't know why everyone keeps saying there is a hole in my swing, I wish people would stop saying that."
Look no further for a reason why Iannetta hasn't become a star. He already thinks he is one, despite hitting .197 with nine home runs and 27 RBIs. Iannetta fans continue to believe that he should be the everyday starter, but the fact is, he continues to get beat out by the likes of Yorvit Torrealba and Miguel Olivo. When those two faltered, Iannetta was never able to put his foot down and take the job.
It would be great to see Iannetta take the next step forward, but the fact is, it might need to happen somewhere else.
So let me hear it...what do you think? What did I miss? Where was I wrong?
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