The Colorado Rockies infield was pretty solid this season, especially if their names were Nolan Arenado and DJ LeMahieu. Here at Rox Pile, we will feature a series of report cards regarding five categories; catcher, infield, outfield, starting pitching and bullpen. So let’s continue our series with the infield.
Justin Morneau: When Justin was in the lineup, he produced. The 34-year-old first baseman appeared in just 49 games this season for Colorado, slashing at a line of .310/.363/.458 with 10 doubles, three triples, two home runs and 15 RBI’s.
A neck injury and concussion symptoms derailed his 2015 campaign, yet the veteran put up some solid numbers during the last two months of the season. Morneau slashed at a line of .338/.423/.471 with three doubles, three triples and six RBI’s. Not to mention, Justin worked ten walks during those two months.
Morneau has a mutual option with Colorado for the 2016 season, yet I don’t think Colorado will be willing to exercise a $9 million option.
Overall Grade: B-
Ben Paulsen: Paulsen was a great fill-in for the injury-prone Morneau. The 27-year-old hit .277 with 19 doubles, four triples, 11 home runs and 65 RBI’s. His away average was .35 points lower than his home; then again, who’s average isn’t when their home field is Coors. However, the power remained where ever he played.
Paulsen shined during the month of May, producing night-in and night-out for Colorado. Ben slashed at a line of .350/.409/.650 over 13 games, collecting 13 hits in 40 at-bats, including three doubles, three home runs and eight RBI’s.
Overall Grade: B
Wilin Rosario: Rosario lost his starting catching spot due to the offseason acquisition of Nick Hundley, therefore making him the odd-man out. Rosario split time with both Colorado and their Triple-A affiliate Albuquerque Isotopes, mashing wherever he went.
Rosario’s bat has never been the problem — his defense has been. Colorado elected to move Rosario over to first base, hoping to get the power-hitting weapon more playing time. That didn’t happen due to the emergence of Ben Paulsen.
Rosario appeared in 89 games this season for Colorado, hitting .268 with 14 doubles, six home runs and 29 RBI’s. In 38 games for the Isotopes, Rosario hit .297 with 12 doubles, seven home runs and 23 RBI’s.
Overall Grade: C
DJ LeMahieu: What more can you say about the play of DJ LeMahieu. DJ made his first All-Star appearance this season, doing it with both the glove and bat. DJ was a mainstay in Colorado’s lineup, hitting .301 with 21 doubles, five triples, six home runs and 61 RBI’s.
DJ was leading the league in hitting for quite sometime until a rough month of August cooled the second baseman off. DJ hit just .253 during that time, collecting just 25 hits in 111 at-bats.
His defense, like teammate Nolan Arenado, is impeccable. DJ combined for the most double plays turned from a second baseman (120) and most assists from a second baseman (452).
Overall Grade: A
Rafael Ynoa: Ynoa was a serviceable utility man for Colorado but nothing more. The 28-year-old hit .260 in 72 games this season, collecting eight doubles, one triple and nine RBI’s. Ynoa played just about everywhere for Colorado; second base, third base, shortstop, left field and pinch-hit 41 times.
Overall Grade: C-
Daniel Descalso: Descalso spent five years with the St. Louis Cardinals before signing a two-year, $3.6 million deal with Colorado prior to the season. Daniel was brought over to provide a veteran presence and spell Troy Tulowitzki during the days he needed rest.
Descalso was atrocious with the bat, slashing at a line of .205/.283/.324 with three doubles, two triples, five home runs and 22 RBI’s. Descalso always had the flair for the dramatic however, coming up in the clutch when Colorado needed a big hit.
Fun Fact: Descalso collected eight of his 38 hits as a pitch-hitter.
Overall Grade: D+
Cristhian Adames: Adames earned a call-up in September when the rosters expanded, giving Colorado a better look at the young shortstop. Adams appeared in 26 games for the Rockies, hitting .245 with one double, one triple and three RBI’s.
Adames was impressive for Colorado’s Triple-A affiliate, slashing at a line of .311/.362/.438 with 20 doubles, three triples, 11 home runs and 51 RBI’s.
If Jose Reyes is gone next season, look for Adames to battle for the starting shortstop position with Trevor Story.
Overall Grade: C-
Jose Reyes: Reyes was acquired in the trade for Troy Tulowitzki prior to the trade deadline to match salaries and to fill as a stop-gap, yet Reyes only provides problems for the Rockies for seasons to come.
Reyes, in 47 games as a Rockie, hit .259 with eight doubles, two triples, three home runs and 19 RBI’s. Not only was his offensive game in shambles, Reyes was progressively getting worse defensively — becoming a liability if you will.
Although he only made three errors in 404.2 innings with Colorado, Reyes’ arm strength wasn’t very impressive to say the least and his defensive stats prove it.
Overall Grade: C
Nolan Arenado: Arenado exceeded expectations with the bat this season, and it may have come to a bit of a surprise to many across the league. We all know Arenado has pop in his bat but we never expected this type of breakout season.
Arenado finished the season hitting .287 for the Rockies, collecting 43 doubles, four triples, 42 home runs and 130 RBI’s. Wow, need I say more? Arenado led in just about everything as a third baseman, including putouts (105), double-plays (42), range factor per nine (3.24) and more.
Arenado is the complete player; his offense and defense is second to none. Colorado has themselves a gem for the future. The sooner they lock Arenado up to an extension, the better off they are.
Overall Grade: A++
The Colorado Rockies infield as a collective unit was pretty solid. I was impressed to see the development of Nolan Arenado, watching him blossom into a star in today’s game. If only received the opportunity to showcase his skills in the postseason with everyone watching.
Overall Team Grade: B