Series Preview: Indians vs. Rockies

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May 26, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (2) flips his helmet and bat into the air after striking out in the seventh inning of a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies won 9-0. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Troy Tulowitzki is hitting better just on the road than anybody on the Indians except Michael Brantley is on the whole year. When anything you’re doing is drawing comparisons to the early 2000’s version of Barry Bonds, or any version of Barry for that matter, you’re doing something amazing. Sure, he hits in the Land of Flying Rawhide, and even with the humidor allegedly deadening the ball there’s still an unparalleled ocean of grass he gets to hit into at Coors Field, but by any measure a .369/.471/.702 line is just filthy. The dude is mashing the ball every which way. He’s sure to experience some regression at some point this year because reality must set in, but if Troy can avoid the injury bug that’s plagued him most of his career he’s a pretty clear cut MVP. Defensively he’s the best shortstop outside of the inhuman Andrelton Simmons, he’s already been worth nearly as much bWAR to this point this season than he was all of last year, and if he goes on another tear like he did a few Septembers ago, doubling his home run total to 28 in the space of about 25 games, it’s pretty much sealed up. He’s otherworldly, simple as that.

 

So that’s what the Indians get to deal with when the Colorado Rockies come to town this weekend. If you look at any of the Rockies players’ season numbers, it’s just silly mainly because of their ridiculous home field situation. Justin Morneau is having a rebirth, a throwback to his MVP days in Minnesota with a .916 OPS and 10 dingers. It could be that his brain is healed from the concussions that sapped his skill his last few years as a Twin, but having a 1.006 OPS at home helps too. He’d be a boon to any organization even with his away numbers (.284/.321/.520), so I’d say it’s safe to say Justin has found himself again. Bad news for the Tribe. When he’s on he carries a hammer.

The Rockies seem to have some sort of bizarro pipeline with the Twins, gathering their old corner position guys and getting some beautiful play out of them. Besides Morneau, Michael Cuddyer, 2013 batting champion and man most confused for Jason Kubel, is again destroying baseballs. He’s loving Coors Field, an 1.117 OPS at home buoying his overall numbers that are dragged down by being 35 and not hitting in Denver. He’s hit more home runs on the road, three to two, but he’s getting on base less and hitting less doubles (ocean of grass, remember?) to pack up a .796 OPS away from Coors. It’s got to be tough to be a Rockies fan – you can never get used to a consistent type of ball. They play the masher in front of their fans then go on a trip and have to small ball their way around because it turns out they have no real power. Though as the old saying goes, chicks did the long ball. People in Denver on average are the most physically fit people in the country. I’m jealous of Rockies players.

I feel kind of bad for the Rockies outfield though. They’re forced to cover a field the size of Yosemite. Cuddyer was never a speed demon in right and now that he’s aged it’s more vinegar than fine wine. Left and center are manned by two young atheletic freaks though, in Carlos Gonzalez and Charlie Blackmon. Blackmon in center is an interesting case – this is his fourth season in the majors and at 27 he looks to finally be figuring things out and will eclipse his games played high of 82 in a few weeks. His .314/.354/.514 line is a dirty lie emboldened by a crazy April. The last 28 days he’s hitting .250/.283/.409 which makes sense mostly because it would just be unfair for the entire Rockies organization to produce monster bats, even if it’s half a ruse anyway. He’s already been worh half a defenseive win above replacement though, and really that’s what the Rockies need out of him. Contact is going to be made in that park quite a bit and they need a guy who can go and get it with the best of them. Blackmon might not be “the best of them” but if he can be pretty good at least, that’s what they need. Defense has never been the Rockies’ strength and in part because of that they’ve always been kind of bad outside of a fluky year here or there, perhaps they’re working on turning a corner.

I mentioned Gonzalez, that guy is a beast when he’s on. Little Pony might be the oddest nickname in the world but he’s also got the coolest home run swing around. More than anyone else it just looks like he knows its out right off the bat.The way he drops the bat, poses for just a beat then jogs away, it’s so suave. The season started off strong for him but he’s faded of late in no small part because of some leg injuries, and he’s questionable for Friday in Cleveland. His defense has been ugly as hell this year though, already worth -.9 WAR.

They also have Drew Stubbs now. Should help the defense at home and if they’re up, expect him to get some PT over Cuddyer in left. It’s not like Cuddyer is a monster with the bat on the road, so it’s good to have a guy like Stubbs around. I miss him a bit.

In all honesty, if I weren’t “blessed” with being a Cleveland fan, and considering I’m a wandering dervish of fandom, I think I’d move to Denver and just become a Rockies fan. There’s runs for days, they score like it’s still the 90’s at home, and when guys like Giancarlo Stanton come to town you know you’re about to see something tremendous. Plus I’d get to live in Denver – there’s like one bad reason to live there, and they wear blue and orange. The Rockies are a fun team to watch, everything you’d want out of a team outside of pitching maybe, and with the drafting they’ve been doing some of that has to pay off eventually. But until then, they’re still the Rockies – stunning offense, horrifying defense.

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Tags: Cleveland Indians Colorado Rockies Troy Tulowitzki

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