Sunday, August 18, 2013

In a tough season, young Colorado Rockies give signs for optimism

Corey Dickerson has shown signs of being a good Major League player.
It's tough to put lipstick on the pig that is the 2013 Colorado Rockies.

The Rockies are not contenders, they have gaping holes both in the back end of their starting rotation, in their lineup and on their bench. However, their have been many good aspects of this team. There have been some reasons to think that this club isn't that far away from being very good.

One of those reasons has been well documented on this blog, as well as others. The starting rotation has three members that give them team more than a chance to win every time they take the mound. Jhoulys Chacin showed that on Sunday, once again. Despite not having his best stuff, he still only gave up three runs in 5-1/3 innings against a very good hitting Baltimore Orioles team. No one is going to say that it was a great outing, but he never let the game slip through the cracks. He battled and kept his team in it.

With Chacin, Jorge De La Rosa and Tyler Chatwood, the Rockies have a legitimate shot to win three out of every five games, regardless of the opposing pitcher.

The starting pitching gives the Rockies a chance, but one aspect that is becoming more clear is the youth that this team has on the offensive side. In admittedly small sample sizes, three guys are showing that they deserve a long look at the big league level, and a chance to compete for as many at-bats are as available in 2014.

Charlie Blackmon, at 27-years-old isn't exactly young, but is still youthful in his big league experience, seems to be finding his groove at the big league level, despite being stuck on the Colorado Springs-to-Denver shuttle all season long. In his limited Major League experience in the past, Blackmon has shown the ability to take a good at-bat, but has struggled to hit for power. While his batting average isn't phenomenal, at .259 after his 2-for-4 performance on Sunday, he is showing plenty of confidence at the plate. He has shown the ability to foul pitches off, and hitting lefties doesn't seem to be an issue. His power numbers haven't been outstanding, but his .417 slugging percentage is headed in the right direction.

In his last 10 games, Blackmon is hitting .321 with just one strikeout in 28 at-bats.

Corey Dickerson is another young player making an impact. In his first stint at the big league level, Dickerson showed some positive flashes, but quickly faded. He struggled to adjust to the big league pitchers facing him and looked like he might need another half season of seasoning in Colorado Springs. However, after being recalled, he looks like the guy who was tearing up the Pacific Coast League. As he approaches 100 big league plate appearances, Dickerson is hitting .321, including eight doubles, two triples and two home runs. He is certainly making it tough to not consider him as a contributor as the team moves forward.

Beyond Blackmon and Dickerson, another contributor that has been making a large impact at the big league level for a longer time than the two aforementioned players is DJ LeMahieu. The former LSU Tiger has seen his average fluctuate throughout the season, but his .270 average is nothing to be ashamed of. Hitting in the eight hole many times means that he doesn't see too many fastballs because the pitcher is an easier out candidate for the opposing team.

Despite a pedestrian batting average, LeMahieu possesses a .916 OPS, over 100 points higher than what most consider a good hitter to have. He has also logged 14 stolen bases while only being caught four times.

The other aspect of LeMahieu's game that might be easy to miss for those not watching every day has been his incredible defense at second base. Frankly, the Rockies haven't had great defense at second base since Clint Barmes departed after the 2010 season. LeMahieu makes very difficult plays seem easy. He moves to his right extremely well and goes up the middle nearly equally as well.

With plenty to be disappointed with in the Rockies season, it is important to not forget about the positives that can be seen. It doesn't mean that the team doesn't need to change courses, and it certainly doesn't mean that the Rockies don't need a major shift in their core beliefs, but it does mean that there is some talent to work with.

The Rockies have a few young players who are worth watching as the season winds down. Blackmon, Dickerson and LeMahieu are three guys that have shown to be worth paying attention to.

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  1. I feel for the players who are good enough to win........
    but rock owner/mgmnt is not capable of producing a consistent western title winner.
    If you don't change the decision makers, things will remain the same and you have a MLB team that is consistently 2nd or 3rd tier.
    Good luck with your blog.

  2. I agree Dave... as I have been touting DJ all season. For the 2B position they don't need a power guy but someone who has a plus defense and can give a solid at-bat and he has performed both admirably. I believe he should stick at 2B going forward.
    I like what I see out of Dickerson as well. I'd like to see him get alot of at-bats to finish the season just to see how he performs with a good number of AB's. That could be difficult, with Cargo coming back. I believe they need to sit Helton more and slide Cuddyer to 1B frequently and play Dickerson in RF which just might be the roster setup next season if they don't go out and pull in a big bat for 1B next season.

    1. Mike,
      I think the Rockies have Cuddyer penciled in at 1st base next year, but they might want to get him some extra reps over there first. He is serviceable, but frankly, a liability at 1st. I think we will see an awful lot of Wilin Rosario over there too. The Rockies have a real hard time settling in to a lineup.

  3. checking rockie performance 2011, 2012, 2013.
    195 wins 254 losses.
    if their lucky they will finish '13 at 73 and 89.
    consistent poor performance.
    a consistent downward spiral driven by incompetent management.

  4. Mr Martin,
    I agree that Blackmon and Dickerson are contributing to the team but remember that Arenado swung a hot bat when he first came up and the scouts of the other teams figured him out.
    So what was your point in writing this piece? To appease that moron, Michael Davis?

    1. Gotta find some positive every now and then, right?

  5. One rookie that you didn't mention. And to be honest, I don't know how in the world you could overlook the defensive performance of Nolan Arenado. With the rookies or young players you mentioned you totally missed on the best one.

    1. Absolutely would have mentioned Arenado. He has been phenomenal...however, my point wasn't all of the impact rookies, it was the recent call-ups who have made an impact and given hope. I think Arenado has provided hope since May, not just in the past three weeks or so...but I can see your complaint.