The Rockies Should Trade Michael Cuddyer

Michael Cuddyer will remain a member of the Colorado Rockies. Even though the team has allegedly received numerous calls about the veteran outfielder, Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd has insisted that Cuddyer isn’t going anywhere. But with the Rockies already 13.5 games back, and Cuddyer struggling, O’Dowd may want to reconsider.

When Cuddyer signed his three-year, $31.5 million contract with the Rockies this off-season, there wasn’t a lot of enthusiasm about the move. Though Cuddyer had been a useful player throughout his career, he was also overrated. And as Matt Klaassen pointed out when he analyzed Cuddyer’s deal in December, there were better outfielders on the market that signed for significantly less money. Even if Cuddyer played well, he was likely to be overpaid. Trading him now could allow the Rockies to reap some benefits after handing out a poor contract this off-season.

But Cuddyer has struggled to live up to expectations this season. The 33-year-old is hitting just .261/.316/.486. Plate discipline has never been one of Cuddyer’s strengths, and this year his 7.8% walk rate is even worse than normal. He’s also striking out more often. Cuddyer’s strikeout rate has jumped to 20.2% this season, his worst performance in the category since 2006. A look at Cuddyer’s plate discipline charts confirms those struggles. Cuddyer’s been more aggressive at the plate, but has made less contact than normal this season. Each of Cuddyer’s swing rates (O-Swing%, Z-Swing% and Swing%) are up this season. But all of Cuddyer’s contact rates (O-Contact%, Z-Contact% and Contact%) are down. Cuddyer’s SwStr% has jumped to 9.7, which explains why he’s struck out more often. Pitchers seem to be getting ahead of Cuddyer early in the count, as his F-Strike% is to 63.1% this year.

Cuddyer has regressed while playing in arguably the best hitters park in the game.

Park Factors K BB 1B 2B 3B HR wOBA
Coors Field 90 91 105 118 166 120 112
Target Field 96 102 101 103 97 95 101

Cuddyer moved from Target Field — which suppresses home runs for righties, but mostly plays neutral — to Coors Field, arguably the best hitters park in the game. And while Cuddyer’s overall numbers have been down, they are inflated by his performance at Coors Field. Cuddyer is currently hitting .294/.364/.529 at home, and just .223/.260/.438 on the road. Without that Coors Field boost, Cuddyer’s slash line wouldn’t be good enough for teams to take interest. Take away Coors Field, and Cuddyer has been a below-average offensive player this season.

Cuddyer has a reputation as a great guy and a team leader, which is one of the reasons O’Dowd may keep him on the team. But in order for this team to compete, they are going to need useful, young players to build around. If teams have legitimate interest in Cuddyer, the Rockies could flip him for a useful cog that might be around when the team is able to compete again. O’Dowd has already built a solid foundation around Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, and getting more young talent around them should be his biggest priority right now.

Cuddyer is in decline. He’s surviving only because he’s been able to hit in one of the friendliest hitters ballparks in the game. And even though his numbers have been good at home, the team isn’t going to contend this season. He’s exactly the type of player that Rockies should be shopping at the deadline. But O’Dowd better change his mind soon, because once other teams start to realize Cuddyer’s performance this season is built on smoke and mirrors, the calls are going to stop.

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Chris is a blogger for He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.

37 Responses to “The Rockies Should Trade Michael Cuddyer”

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  1. Uh Oh Cordero says:

    Your writing this article probably doesn’t help them. If the stat geek public knows about this then sooner or later GMs will catch up too!

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    • Steve says:

      It’s ridiculous to assume they don’t know already. This isn’t 2002, most if not all GM’s have any information we do.

      I assume if they are calling for Cuddyer, they are looking to give up fringe prospect and for Colorado to swallow some money.

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  2. Psst says:

    Go ahead keep promoting the fantasy that the Rockies players should be given the exact same home/road treatment as every other team in baseball.

    Keep pretending that high altitude doesn’t effect the way people hit and that Cuddy(75wRC+ Road) and Scutaro(52wRC+ Road) are just in decline and can’t come back. Never mind that by your own statistical model wRC+ the Rockies are always a well above average home team, and a well below average road team.

    That Matt Holliday the only power hitter ever to leave Coors in his prime posted his best road numbers by a mile once he left left Coors(in his thirties) and that he posted a 56wRC+ on the road his first year. Larry Walker was a NL Allstar in Montreal in 1994 posting a road line of .314/.388/.575 in 1995 his first year in Colorado he hit .268/.361 .484 and while he had a ,416wOBA in Montreal and a .418wOBA in Colorado his wRC+ was 152 in Montreal and 132 in Colorado.
    |I am not saying that the Rockies shouldn’t listen on Cuddyer I just wish people who supposedly deal in numbers would stop just going to a players page, read the number, jump to a conclusion then run that conclusion out there as gospel.

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    • Resolution says:

      word up.

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    • Dustin says:

      Wow. Those are 2 really compelling data points, and certainly a conclusive look at the issue.

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    • BronxBaumer says:

      Are you saying that the altitude causes a bodily reaction that makes them incapable of hitting on the road? Like their bodies can’t adjust to sea level for road trips and their coordination and strength suffers?

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      • Psst says:

        I would argue that it tough to adjust to different way fastballs move at altitude Helton, Tulo, Cargo all had awful numbers on the road their first year at altitude.

        Some people adjust and move closer to average on the road Holliday was viewed by many as a Coors field creation in his 06-08 strech of 400+ wOBA but since leaving COL he is 8th among qualified hitters with a road 143 wRC+ after posting a 100 wRC+ from 04-08 in Colorado. Is that because Matt Holliday became a 40+% better hitter in his age 30 season? or is their something not being accounted for in the data?

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      • jfree says:

        Altitude requires a different batting eye. A curveball thrown at Coors is not going to be in the same place as a curveball thrown anywhere else (ceteris parabis). Adjusting to that in order to succeed at Coors – a necessity for any Rockie but unnecessary for any batter on another team who is merely visiting Coors for one series – means undoing whatever you do at other parks. The more one plays at Coors, the more you’re gonna end up overthinking — and THAT is what hurts on the road.

        Visitors to Coors have one really big advantage – ignorance. They don’t have to succeed at Coors and they don’t have to figure anything out. If they slump, so what – it’s one series. And if pitches look different at Coors, so what – they won’t be playing there long enough to get that imprinted enough in their head to screw up anything when they go back home.

        The poster is right. Coors (and many Rockies stats) statistics are legitimate statistical outliers and special cases. Physics assumptions that one takes for granted everywhere else do not apply to Coors. Mental adjustments that one makes to deal with that environment do not apply to anywhere else. And if someone doesn’t understand that, then they are simply making a Stats101 mistake.

        and yeah – the Rockies home-road differential (easily the biggest in the league – by multiples – over the last ten years at least – for all batters on the team combined) is one of them

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      • jfree says:

        That said – I do agree that Cuddy should be traded. The Rockies, more than most teams, really need solid fielders in the OF. Not one of the weakest fielding teams in the majors over the last decade. Pitching is already tough enough at Coors. And Cuddy isn’t ever going to be a great fielder again (if he ever was – I don’t know).

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      • Jon L. says:

        Maybe someone could look into the wRC+ of visiting players for their first series after they play in Colorado? I realize you’re saying visiting players don’t have to adjust for one series, but a good hitter will make adjustments even in the course of an at-bat.

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      • jfree says:

        Realistically though, the only pitch they will likely see more than once in an at-bat is a fastball. Those will tend to be faster at Coors – but adjusting to the speed of a fastball isn’t particularly unique to Coors. The velocity of a fastball varies a lot more by pitcher than by park. Maybe they see another non-fastball in a later at-bat v that pitcher – but then it’s on to a different pitcher with a different repertoire of pitches. That’s really really small sample size.

        The talk that I hear about Rockies themselves adjusting to batting at Coors (I’m in Denver) usually occurs when they are in a slump (not necessarily an extended one but one they are aware of and trying to end). In batting practice or explaining something at a media conference where they are answering questions.

        Coors is kinda weird. It doesn’t have the advantage of most sports at altitude – Broncos, Olympic athletes, cyclists/runners, Air Force cadets. Those guys can train at altitude and get a huge aerobic advantage over their competition without even having to think about it. The lungs simply start processing oxygen more efficiently. But baseball isn’t an aerobic sport

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    • BX says:

      Seth Smith would also be a good example of a hitter transitioning outside of Coors and being fine/posting excellent numbers home and road. (although to be fair, he had solid away numbers in 2011, but not-solid before that).

      He just went from Coors to a terrible park for hitting. And, he’s doing fine, posting a 130 WRC+ and all.

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    • Paul Clarke says:

      There’s a simple explanation for the weird home/road wRC+ splits for Rockies players: home/road wRC+ splits are wrong. For an example, look at the team road splits for the Padres and Rockies. Their wOBA is almost identical (.300 for Rockies, .299 for Padres), but their wRC+ figures are miles apart:

      Padres: 93
      Rockies: 75

      That could only be right if the Rockies played their road games in much more hitter friendly parks than the Padres, which obviously isn’t true. I think there’s a simple bug here: the split wRC+ figures are park adjusted by the same amount as the overall figures, so effectively the system believes that the Rockies play half their road games at Coors Field while the Padres play half of theirs at Petco.

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      • Psst says:

        Right that is what the system says, however unlike other stadiums Coors negatively effects the Rockies when they go on the road that is not accounted for in the weighted part of weighted runs created

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  3. drewggy says:

    Maybe the offers for Cuddyer so far have stunk and include the Rockies eating most/all of the remaining contract?

    The best way to get a better offer is to say you won’t move a guy.

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  4. Telo2 says:

    Look up Tim Wheeler AAA OF for the Rocks. we don’t need cuddyer.

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    • David C. says:

      Look up the guy who had 4 hits and was a double shy of the cycle today. Colvin can easily post what Cuddyer has and at a fraction of the cost. If Colvin falters then look up Wheeler. ;)

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  5. Brad F says:

    It’s very frustrating to be a Rox fan currently.

    We could’ve had Jason Hammel in the rotation and Seth Smith in RF and had $33 million not spent on Michael Cuddyer. Then use said $33 million not used to sign Cuddyer plus the $3.5 you save in using Hammel ($4.75) vs Guthrie ($8 freaking million) to actually sign a worthwhile SP.

    Instead, we trade Hammel for Jeremy Guthrie. Hammel, in 87 starts for the Rockies from 2009-2011, had a 4.08 FIP/4.63 ERA. Guthrie, from 2009-2011, had a 4.74 FIP/4.40 ERA. I’ll admit that Guthrie was in a much more difficult division.

    But look at the groundball %s: Guthrie was at 38% over that span and Hammel was at 45%.


    Using the same time period of Seth Smith….2009-2011

    .360 wOBA, .305 BABIP

    And Michael Cuddyer…..

    .351 wOBA, .301 BABIP

    I mean, sure Cuddyer is maybe worth maybe 0.5 more WAR or so due to his defense.

    At least they got something for Seth Smith, right? Oh wow, they got a guy with a 3.38 ERA/1.09 WHIP? Ok, then maybe I”ll cut him some slack.

    Oh, Guillermo Moscoso. Brilliant. Him of the 5.20 K/9, 2/1 K/BB ratio, 5.02 xFIP. Brilliant.

    I mean, I know most fans deal with front offices not understanding sabermetrics well. But this is just ridiculous. Moscoso had a 26.8% groundball percentage last year. Come on, man.

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    • Psst says:

      You forgot Felipe Paulino, Franklin Morales and the newly resurgent Esmil Rodgers. Those three posted 6.28, 8.06, and 7.36 ERA’s for the Rockies and have combined for a 78ip of 2.39ERA with 86K/24BB

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      • BX says:

        to be fair, morales is doing his resurgence in the pen, where the rox are already strong.

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      • Psst says:

        Actually Morales has started two games where he has a 17K/1BB and despite a .423BABIP he has allowed a .256/.273/.372 and with 4ER in 11 innings

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      • BX says:

        I can show you two starts from almost any scrub starter that look dominant.

        it means absolutely nothing.

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      • Brad F says:


        I’m not even talking about what players do after they leave Coors field. I’m saying that before the season even started, the Rockies spent $38 million to bring in Jeremy Guthrie and Michael Cuddyer to replace Jason Hammel and Seth Smith, when Hammel and Smith were almost the exact same from a production standpoint. Hammel/Smith’s performance this year in comparison to Guthrie/Cuddyer is just gravy to the frustration.

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    • BlackOps says:

      As far as I can tell Smith is either as good of a defender or better than Cuddyer. But yeah, either way, the Rockies need a change everywhere or else their stars’ primes will be wasted.

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  6. Jim Lahey says:

    First time switching leagues.. SSS road splits.. ZIPS has him at a .355wOBA rest of way. Tulo and Cargo are not getting younger. Do you really want to punt their prime years? Hes signed for 2.5 more yrs. I’m keeping Cuddyer if I’m the Rockies through at least this season.

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  7. Hurtlockertwo says:

    The Rockies are 7 games under .500 at home so do the elevated home batting numbers really make any difference?? Teams are not going to clamor to take Cuddyer’s big salary.

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    • blahblahblah says:

      Yes they will, he is a super-utility (OF+1B+3B+2B) guy with an above average bat.

      His Road BABip is .244. (while his home rate is a reasonable .320)

      Repeat, his Road BABip is .244.

      Why that isnt even mentioned in this article is beyond me. Teams are going to see that and realize his poor numbers on the Road are going to rebound.

      Yes he is likely in a natural decline, yes. But his numbers are still solid outside the poor Road BAbip. And those solid numbers from a guy with that level of flexibility is something most contenting teams will want big time.

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  8. Jeremiah says:

    I agree that it would be worthwhile to trade Cuddyer at this point; the pitching probably won’t be ready next year either and in 2014 Cuddyer will be 35. But perhaps rather than fall back on home/road splits and the LOLCOORZ myth you could actually write an article investigating the effects of hitting in the most unique environment in MLB. Rockies hitters frequently have wRC+ home/road splits of 40 points or more. Sure, it’s easier to hit at Coors: pitches break less and travel further. But that also means that it’s harder to hit away from Coors, and no other team’s players have to make that adjustment for 81 games. It’s easy to fall back on the reliable line that all Rockies hitting stats are smoke and mirrors, but Fangraphs is supposed to be better than that.

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  9. blahblahblah says:

    In fact, do nothing more then a quick correct for his BABip on the Road.

    Currently he is at a .244 BAbip for a .280/.333/.450 line. Adjust the BAbip to reflect a more realistic .300 (27 hits goes to 32, where we will just assume they are all merely singles) You get:


    Last year on the Road he was at
    .280/.333/.450/.784 off a .314 BAbip

    Yes, his walk rate is also down slightly. That might be a bit of a product of his lower BAbip though too – is he mentally trying to over-compensate for what is really not much more then a Road slump? Or is he merely trying to carry the whole team?

    Realistically, his ‘decline’ might be much ado about nothing; the results of a slump with over-compensation and/or just trying to do too much for his new club overall. I wouldn’t be overly concerned myself…

    That said, yes, he should be traded as he is more valuable as a trade chip to the Rocs

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    • Psst says:

      Agreed if this Article was about say Tyler Colvin and his .295/.325/.541 without 10 years of MLB success under his belt I could see it, but saying Cuddyer is declining based on sss noise is just laziness.

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      • BlackOps says:

        Tyler Colvin makes me have a sad when Tracy puts him in the lineup over Fowler. Jim Tracy makes me want to go on a murderous rampage.

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  10. I would be inclined to believe Cuddyer is suffering from that Coors disease, believing you have power when you don’t. Guys change their swing and when the matriculate elsewhere, they come back to reality and adjust.

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  11. Ryan says:

    Cuddyer wouldn’t even be a minor concern in the lineup if the Rockies’ starters had any sort of ability. They needed a solid right-handed bat with ok defense, and they have it.

    I’m never in favor of blaming managers and GMs, because I think player performance is 90% of outcome, but O’Dowd has really earned a dismissal after this joke of a season. The realistic among us knew the rookies were going to have severe growing pains, and a .500 record was probably what our expectations needed to be, but it’s the supplemental veteran pitching that was acquired that deserves scorn.

    Moyer, Moscoso, Outman, and Guthrie have been absolutely embarrassing. No GM in the league trades Seth Smith, Jason Hammel, and Matt Lindstrom for that — NO ONE. There is solace in know next year can’t possibly be worse, but there is too much talent on this team to waste every year bungling the supplementary pieces.

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  12. whatever says:

    “Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd has insisted that Cuddyer isn’t going anywhere.”

    Chris, you make a Odowd’s point for him. He’s not worth a decent prospect even if the Rockies eat the contract. Cuddy looks alot like a replacement/quad A player going forward. You can get those guys without giving up prospects. Why they went after Cuddy when Willingham was out their for a similiar payday is beyond me. He would be good for 35 to 40 homers at Coors.

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  13. ddanielchen says:

    Problem is, the Rockies right now are trying to build a clubhouse of “character” guys, with “veteran leadership”. Never mind that they’re in decline. As long as this is our philosophy, our park will continue to cover our offensive deficiencies, and we’ll never earn a division title.

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