MADISON, February 11, 2014 — Over the next few weeks this column will unveil MLB Power Rankings starting with the weakest team and working towards the strongest. Today the process continues by looking at number 26, the Colorado Rockies.
2013 Record: 74-88 with a -54 run differential.
Key Losses: 1B Todd Helton, RHP Mitchell Boggs, LHP Drew Pomeranz, RHP Chris Jensen and RHP Roy Oswalt
Key Additions: RHP LaTroy Hawkins, 1B Justin Morneau and LHP Brett Anderson
2014 Projected Lineup:
2B Josh Rutledge
3B Nolan Arenado
CF Carlos Gonzalez
SS Troy Tulowitzki
1B Justin Morneau
OF Michael Cuddyer
C Wilin Rosario
OF Drew Stubbs/Charlie Blackmon
2014 Projected Rotation:
Jorge de la Rosa
Tyler Chatwood/Jordan Lyles
Best Case: The Rockies stay healthy. Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez both stay healthy and form the best middle of the order in baseball. The rest of the lineup also meets expectations as Nolan Arenado’s bat catches up with his gold glove defense and he posts an OPS+ over 100. While Michael Cuddyer doesn’t win the batting title his performance slips slightly to his 2011 levels providing plenty of production behind Tulo and CarGo. The pitching is near league average. While Anderson only makes it through July, when he gets hurt Eddie Butler steps in and the rotation doesn’t miss a beat. LaTroy Hawkins adequately handles the closer role allowing manager Walt Weiss to use Rex Brothers in the seventh and eighth innings to put out fires. The Rockies challenge for the wild card but ultimately fall short and finish second in the NL West.
Worst Case: Injuries strike. Brett Anderson manages to pitch the same number of innings he’s thrown on average over the last three years, 55. Tulowitzki goes down early and when he gets back Gonzalez gets injured allowing the Rockies to have them both in the lineup for only 20 games in 2014. Arenado’s bat continues to struggle compared to his minor league numbers and he again posts an OPS+ near 80. Age starts to catch up to Michael Cuddyer who slumps to a .280 average after leading the league with a .331 average in 2013. Justin Morneau continues to struggle with concussion related symptoms. Jon Gray and Eddie Butler struggle in the minors pushing their arrival date back to mid 2015. The Rockies finish thirty games behind the Dodgers in the NL West.
Prospect Watch: It has been said before, but it appears that pitching help is on the way for the Rockies. The Rockies used the third overall pick on RHP Jonathan Gray last year. Gray threw only 24 innings of professional baseball, but had a 1.63 ERA with 147strikeouts over 126 1/3 innings at the University of Oklahoma. Eddie Butler logged 149.2 innings over three levels posting a 1.80 ERA with 143 strikeouts. Both pitchers could potentially see time in September with the big club. David Dahl missed almost all of last year with a severe hamstring injury but tore up rookie ball in 2012 to the tune of a .379/.423/.625 slash line. If Dahl proves healthy in 2014, he could quickly move up prospect rankings. While first base prospects are few and far between throughout baseball the Rockies have one in Kyle Parker who posted a .288/.345/.492 slash line and he has posted consistent lines throughout the minors.