When it comes to the Colorado Rockies, the standard practice in fantasy baseball is to draft the hitters and avoid the pitchers. And it is as true today as it was back in 1993 when the organization played its very first game as an MLB franchise. We’ve already covered the team’s outfield and rotation, so it’s time to discuss the infield now. For the most part, you’ll want to give it a look when mapping out your draft strategy, however, it might not be the offensive powerhouse you were hoping for.
Always best to start with the depth chart and then go from there…
|C||Wilin Rosario||Ramon Hernandez|
|1B||Todd Helton||Tyler Colvin||Michael Cuddyer|
|2B||Josh Rutledge||D.J. LeMahieu||Jonathan Herrera|
|SS||Troy Tulowitzki||Jonathan Herrera||Josh Rutledge|
|3B||Chris Nelson||Jordan Pacheco||Ryan Wheeler|
Let’s just keep it simple and organized and go position by position here…
Catcher: Last season, when the Rockies brought in Hernandez on a two-year deal, the expectation was that he would handle primary duties while mentoring the Rosario, the team’s 23-year old power-hitting backstop of the future. Rosario’s defense was lacking and the team wanted to make sure he got a little more seasoning before being handed the full-time job. But injuries to Hernandez thrust the youngster into the limelight and he never let go of the job. He showed tremendous power in the first half and then shined even brighter in the second when he maintained his power while improving his plate discipline and batting average, proving that he was more than ready to handle the job. After spending much of the offseason honing his defensive skills, Rosario walks into the 2013 season as the starter and makes for a fantastic fantasy option with the potential to hit 25-30 home runs, though he may only hit in the .260 range. His stock is still on the rise, so look for him around the sixth or seventh round whether it’s a one or a two-catcher league.
First Base: This is a tough spot for the Rockies actually as Todd Helton, who was limited to just 69 games last year due to hip and knee problems, says that he wants to come back for the 2013 season. He’s obviously not the reliable bat he once was, but considering the team is still paying him a substantial amount, they’re going to try shuttling him out there as much as possible. But between the injuries and the obvious decline over the last several seasons, he is not a recommended play in fantasy at all; not even as a corner infielder. You also need to take into account that even when healthy, there’s a strong chance the club sits him in favor of either Colvin or Cuddyer, both of whom will be getting time in the outfield as well. Both have more power potential and are probably more sensible plays to begin with. Bottom line — look elsewhere for fantasy help at first base.
Second Base: With a strong 73 game audition last year, Rutledge has been tabbed as the Rockies starter at the keystone this year and has been one of the more trendy picks in mock drafts lately as his ADP in the NFBC mocks has risen steadily over the last several weeks. Thankfully, he’s plateaued right around the late 10th/early 11th round, but that still might be a little high to put your trust in a guy who split his time last year between Double-A and the majors and has only one year of experience above High-A ball. While he does have the potential to go 15-15 this season with a .275ish average, he does lack some patience at the plate and could find himself struggling at times. If he does, the Rockies probably won’t hesitate to use LeMahieu a little more to alleviate some of the pressure. LeMahieu has shown some decent on-base skills, but with almost no power and limited speed, it’s obvious that he’s there more for his glove. Rutledge is the guy to own this season, but you’re probably best served with him as your middle infielder rather than your primary second baseman or shortstop, both of which he is eligible.
Shortstop: Let’s face it, when healthy, there’s no better shortstop to own than Tulowitzki. His chronic injuries (he hasn;t appeared in 150 or more games since 2009) have kept him out of the first round this year, but he is still a no-brainer pick in the second. You just need a good contingency plan. Healthy though, you’re looking at 30 home runs, 100 RBI and possibly even double-digit stolen bases. If you can’t handle the risk, though, steer clear and look for shortstop help elsewhere. The Rockies contingency plan right now is Herrera, but given his displays of mediocrity at the major league level, don;t be surprised to see Rutledge shifted over with Herrera and LeMahieu platooning over at second.
Third Base: The hot corner is actually still up for grabs, though it appears as if Nelson may have the inside track after batting .345 with four home runs and 30 RBI over the final two months of the season last year. But he is certainly far from a lock as Pacheco also had a strong year for himself, batting .309 over 505 plate appearances split between the corner infield positions. Pacheco makes excellent contact, but Nelson seems to have more power and the better glove. They’ll fight it out this spring, but in truth, neither is worth using as anything more than a plug and play this season. There’s simply not enough power or speed to make either a worthwhile fantasy third baseman. You also may have to watch out for up-and-coming third base prospect, Nolan Arenado. Wheeler is ahead of him on the depth chart and the youngster struggled in his first year at Double-A last season, but the organization remains high on him and he could get a chance should he improve his plate work down on the farm first.