Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
The fall from grace for Josh Rutledge has been nothing short of astounding. I suppose it should also serve as a cautionary tale and be cause for pause with our excitement about DJ LeMahieu. Right now we figure the Rockies have their second base situation figured out thanks to LeMahieu. But just remember, we thought the same thing about Mr. Rutledge one year ago.
Here’s a sobering tidbit, a single fact that will bring this past season right into perspective. Josh Rutledge was the Opening Day second baseman. He batted 2nd. So he wasn’t just a throw-in like, say, Chris Nelson. He was an integral part of what the Rockies were doing. He was in the center of it all.
This is nothing against Rutledge, and there are still ways for him to be a valuable player for this franchise, but boy oh boy, that was a miscalculation. That was a poor assessment of a guy’s ability based on not very many games. And for the record, I was right there. I watched Rutledge turn on pitches at the end of 2012 and I was ready to write him into the lineup in ink for 2013. We probably jumped the gun on that one, eh?
If Rutledge gets a “passing” grade for 2013, it’s just barely and it’s only because you don’t want to flunk him and make him repeat a year. He batted .231/.288/.329 with seven home runs and 19 RBI. Those numbers include an odd combination of a long stretch in the starting lineup and a longer stretch in the minor leagues. He did still manage to steal 12 bases, and he salvaged his season with a .328 average in September.
The other thing to note about Rutledge is that his defense was never up to par. Much as we wanted him to be a solid second baseman because he came up as a shortstop, it just didn’t play out that way. LeMahieu seems to have a more complete skill set for the job, but let’s learn from Rutledge and not get ahead of ourselves this time around.
As for Mr. Rutledge, his bat still has pop and there is still value in the fact that he can fill in at shortstop. He should be on the bench next season (possibly at the expense of Jonathan Herrera), and hopefully he can provide some much-needed depth by continuing to develop next season.