Evaluating the Talent: Josh Rutledge


As if the infield situation isn’t crowded/confusing/poorly defined enough, let’s throw a solid second baseman/back up shortstop into the mix. Writing about these infielders has helped cure me of one thing: envying Walt Weiss‘s job.

Josh Rutledge answered the call last July after Troy Tulowitzki died exploded suffered yet another season-ending injury. I will say this about Tulo’s inability to stay healthy: it’s given us all an excellent opportunity to get a look at the Rockies’ middle infield depth, which has been much more impressive than it has any right to be given the fact that this whole team is supposed to be riding on Tulo’s shoulders for the next decade. Rutledge was considered not quite ready for his big league debut, but he didn’t let that stop him. He played such decent defense at short that the Rockies kept him around to take a few turns at second as well. I say “decent” because, let’s face it, he’s no Tulo. He’s not even really DJ LeMahieu, yet or possibly at all. But he did his thing in the field, and even managed to demonstrated acceptable abilities at the plate and on the basepaths.

You could do worse than Rutledge/Helton as a double play combo.

Don’t be discouraged by Rutledge’s batting average (.274). His other numbers are substantially better: in 73 games last season he collected 20 doubles, 5 triples, 8 homers, and 37 RBI. He also stole 7 bases and was caught stealing zero times. He’s a solid number-two hitter and does well in that slot. He’s never going to produce the offensive fireworks required of a middle-of-the-order guy, and that plus the mostly-okay defense means superstardom is not in his future. The kid has potential, though, and I like him. I have said before that I prefer LeMahieu as the starting second baseman, and that remains true. But we could all do worse than Rutledge, and having the two platoon isn’t a bad idea. That’s only an option, though, if that pesky shortstop manages to stay uninjured …

Where will Rutledge be in 2013? Playing short once Tulo suffers his latest injury.

Where should Rutledge be in 2013? Backing Tulo up and also spelling LeMahieu at second.