|Jordan Pacheco has been better than anyone expected.|
If things had gone according to plan for the Colorado Rockies, Pacheco would have only been the starting third baseman for about six weeks. As everyone is well aware, things haven't gone according to plan for the Rockies.
However, if something that didn't go according to plan turned out well, it was Pacheco. With top prospect Nolan Arenado grabbing the spotlight in the Arizona Fall League one year ago, the New Mexico native was forgotten about. Even as his impressive season continues to get better, many have still tried to discount the stats and what they see on the field.
On Thursday afternoon, Pacheco bolstered his National League rookie leading batting average to .309 with a 2-for-4 day at the plate. One of the hits came in the first inning when he launched a three-run homer to left field to put the Rockies on top and start the scoring.
Even with Pacheco having a great season, he continues to be overshadowed. While Pacheco has continued to be consistent all season long, the hot streaks of some of those who are considered better players tend to overshadow the work of Pacheco. Chris Nelson, Eric Young, Jr., DJ LeMahieu and Josh Rutledge have all had hot streaks that stole the headlines from Pacheco.
When Pacheco is praised by the media or the fans, it seems that the Rockies front office is quick to point out that they don't see him as a long-term solution. On a conference call with season ticket holders, general manager Dan O'Dowd was asked if he was impressed by Pacheco. Much to the surprise of many on the call, O'Dowd skipped the praise and went right for the negative.
O'Dowd was quick to point out that if Pacheco wants to be an everyday player at third base, his power numbers would have to quickly improve.
Frankly, those are the words of a terrible general manager. If O'Dowd was paying attention he would realize that someone like Pacheco, who now has five home runs on the season, is a guy who could develop power as his career progresses. The reason for that is because his approach at the plate isn't power oriented. He has been focused on getting hits, swinging at strikes and driving the ball. That is a positive thing for a young player trying to figure out his way in the big leagues.
The best thing young players can do is simplify things at the plate. Instead of thinking about hitting home runs, Pacheco is getting the bat on the ball. Where the ball goes from there isn't important. His approach seems to suggest that if he makes contact, good things will happen.
Hitters who understand that, and succeed at getting hits with that mindset, have a tendency to develop their power as their career progresses. They spend the first year or so getting comfortable with big league pitching, once they are comfortable, they suddenly figure out which pitches they can drive and hit into the seats.
With Pacheco playing his way into the everyday lineup, the Rockies are going to have some very interesting decisions heading into 2013. With Troy Tulowitzki healthy again, Rutledge will be headed to second base. That means that Pacheco, Nelson and LeMahieu will be fighting it out in spring training for the third base job. Of course, with the Todd Helton situation in doubt, Pacheco could find himself getting some starts at first base, and his ability to catch means that he could easily be in the lineup everyday, but playing a different spot on defense from one day to the next.
The Rockies must be one of the few franchises in baseball history that is going to come close to losing 100 games, then head into spring training the following season with as much depth as any team in the league. The reality is, the Rockies should strongly consider trading one or two of those three guys in order to land a decent starting pitcher, or someone who could bolster the bullpen in case the current members suffer setbacks from the number of innings that they have had to take on in 2012.
Regardless of what happens, Jordan Pacheco deserves credit and praise. He has been nothing short of phenomenal for the Rockies and has received very little press for it.
The Rockies must now win one game in order to avoid a 100-loss season. Despite playing in Los Angeles and Arizona, two places where they struggle mightily, they should be able to squeak out a win or two and avoid the embarrassing mark.
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