Rockies Playing Time Battles: Hitters

We’ve started our annual Depth Chart Discussions, re-branded as Playing Time Battles for 2016. You can catch up on every team we’ve covered in the Playing Time Battles Summary post or following along using the Depth Chart Discussions tag.

Fresh off trading Corey Dickerson in a baffling alleviation of outfield depth, the Rockies are set to enter 2016 with three position battles. Were I running the club, I would have my eye on the free agent market which contains first base and back up outfield reinforcements.

Nolan Arenado, DJ LeMahieu, Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon, and Gerardo Parra seemingly have five of the eight positions on lock down. It’s debatable that Parra merits an unimpeded full time role, but that’s what he was hired to do.

Shortstop

On the surface, this should be Jose Reyes’ job whenever he’s healthy, not suspended, or not on trial. However, there are some complicating factors, namely the health, the impending suspension, and the aforementioned trial. He’s charged with domestic abuse by the state of Hawaii, and his trial is scheduled to commence in early April. Depending on the outcome, Reyes could be deported. Even if he’s not, a lengthy suspension is possible.

At the very least, he’ll miss a chunk of time in April. At the worst, he could be done playing baseball professionally. The most likely scenario – a 25 to 50 game suspension on top of time missed for the trial – would open the door for top prospect Trevor Story.

The 23-year-old is currently fourth on the team’s depth chart, behind Daniel Descalso and Cristhian Adames. They’re both utility quality players although Adames has a whiff of upside by virtue of his youth. Presently, I expect Adames to open the season as the starting shortstop while the Rockies await word of Reyes. If a guilty verdict or harsh suspension are levied, the club may then turn to Story. They’ll gain an extra service year by keeping him in the minors for a couple weeks.

As a fantasy asset, Story promises useful power and speed at a position of need. Last season, split between Double- and Triple-A, he hit 20 home runs and stole 22 bases. He’s strikeout prone and could take a couple seasons to adjust to the majors. Since shortstop is so shallow, the power and speed should be enough to ensure positive production with upside for more.

Even if Reyes gets off scot-free, he may not spend much time atop the Rockies depth chart. To me, it’s obvious he’ll be traded to make room for Story (and eventually Brendan Rodgers). Reyes actually struggled after joining the Rockies last season. Studies have shown the rarefied air increases injury risk too.

First Base

Mark Reynolds and Ben Paulsen are currently scheduled to share first base. The team may be uninterested in a reunion with Justin Morneau, but everybody in the baseball community wants to see what Pedro Alvarez can do at altitude. If his price falls enough, he could be hired to oust Paulsen.

The left-handed side of the platoon, Paulsen is coming off his best season. He’s a strikeout prone, league average hitter who can hit about 20 home runs over a full season. Unless you count a history of high BABIPs, he doesn’t have any other redeeming qualities. The 28-year-old is cheap since he’s a pre-arb player. It’s the only reason a team should roster him over Alvarez.

Reynolds will handle the left-handed pitching, and he’ll get some spot starts versus righties too. The replacement level first baseman is seemingly a great fit for Coors Field where pitches move less and fly farther. He might be able to trim a point or two off his strikeout rate and push his ISO above .200 for the first time since 2012.

This is a passable platoon. However, it’s my opinion that the club could be over committed to it.

Catcher

Nick Hundley really enjoyed his first season in Colorado. He hit .301/.339/.467 with a lofty .356 BABIP. His strikeout rate fell below 20 percent for the first time in his major league career. He hit 10 home runs in 389 plate appearances and even stole five bases.

When he’s healthy, Hundley will start. Backing him up will be one of Dustin Garneau or Tom Murphy. Both players have good power for the position. Garneau is more contact oriented while Murphy has an approach reminiscent of J.P. Arencibia. With the help of Coors, either catcher could be fantasy relevant with starting reps.

Back Up Outfielder

The starting three are very left-handed. It would make sense to have a mashing righty to call upon. What they do have is named Brandon Barnes. He was once viewed as an outstanding defender, although his time in Colorado has graded out as league average. He has a limp bat with a much-too-high strikeout rate. He should not be playing in the majors let alone a fourth outfielder.

Rather than pushing unready prospects like Raimel Tapia into a bench role, the club should hire right-handed depth. In the bargain bin, Chris Denorfia, Delmon Young, Ryan Raburn, Marlon Byrd, and Jeff Francoeur are all options. Higher quality alternatives include Shane Victorino, Austin Jackson, and Alex Rios. They have to sign somebody, right?



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Vandyguy
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Vandyguy

Ben Paulsen was a nice steal in NFBC last year after round 40 :) plug n play when they have a home series, like most Rockies hitters

speaking of fantasy baseball, there’s 1 spot left in an Auction draft tonight on Yahoo Pro H2H format (not roto, sorry!).

just go to Yahoo page, and join Pro League, $20, scoring Head to Head, auction draft is tonight at 9 PM Pacific (midnight eastern)

pbmax
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pbmax

good call on paulsen! Have to do that this year, albeit a bit higher cost