Apr 12, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; Colorado Rockies infielder Nolan Arenado (28) and infielder Troy Tulowitzki (2) stand on the field during a pitching change against the San Francisco Giants in the fourth inning at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Handicapping The Rockies Infield
The infield, if it can stay healthy, is arguably the best combination in baseball.
It can be left unsaid what Troy Tulowitzki brings to the table at shortstop, as evidenced by his 91-game monster season last year. But, again, he must stay on the field for his achievements to be noticed and his potential to be realized. If he can play more than 140 games for the Rockies this summer, the club has a chance to compete in the NL West, and while they still may not have enough weapons to be standing come October, Tulo gives them a fighting chance night in, and night out.
At third base, Nolan Arenado is due for a breakout on the national stage, after impressing Rockies fans in Tulo’s shadow and winning Gold Gloves and going on historic hitting streaks of his own. He and Tulo combine to make the left side of the infield very difficult to hit through, and both let Rockies pitchers sleep easier at night knowing that if they can just get ground balls, they can get out of jams.
At second base, D.J. LeMahieu doesn’t have the offensive prowess of either Tulo or Arenado, but he does have the fielding pedigree, winning his own Gold Glove in 2014. He’ll hit eighth (or ninth, depending on if Walt Weiss decides to slot the pitcher in the eighth spot). He’s as solid as they come in the field with range and a great arm at second base, and if he can get on base at a slightly higher mark (just .315 last season), he’ll be something to watch for in the club’s potent lineup.
At first base, Justin Morneau is in his second year as the man who replaced Todd Helton, but really, Morneau is the man who’s resurrected his own career in Denver after concussion issues nearly derailed it in Minnesota. In a potent, powerful lineup of younger stars and breakout players, it was Morneau who won the National League batting title last year, and he provides the Rockies good defense at first base and a veteran presence in the middle of the lineup.
On the bench, the club has Daniel Descalso and Rafael Ynoa, and Wilin Rosario figures to get some time at first base after losing catching duties to Nick Hundley and Michael McKenry. While Descalso and Ynoa cannot compare to the men they’d potentially replace if an injury should strike, as utility men the two of them, and maybe Charlie Culberson (and possibly Christhian Adames) will be decent enough to spell Tulo, Arenado, and LeMahieu in very short spurts.
The infield, when healthy, is arguably the best in baseball. Give the Rockies an A+ for their work here.
Next: The Catchers