Our friends over at Purple Row are really killing the game this offseason. They’re not missing anything with their 24/7 coverage of everything Rockies (seriously, I think someone stays up all night just to be safe). There were two pieces that intrigued me this week; rumors about Corey Dickerson moving to first (via Fangraphs) and top third base prospect Ryan McMahon being introduced to first base last week. Question is, who would be better at first, Dickerson or McMahon?
The lack of consistency at first over the last two years isn’t entirely due to poor play. Justin Morneau won the batting title in 2014, but missed almost the entire 2015 season. Paulsen was adequate, but doesn’t provide the power a team wants for that position. The Rockies have tried using Morneau, Paulsen, Michael Cuddyer, WIlin Rosario and Ben Paulsen at first over the last few seasons and only Paulsen is still on the roster. Sadly, it doesn’t look like he’s the future of the position considering the Rockies signed a platoon mate, Mark Reynolds, to handle left-handed starters
For 2016, Paulsen and Reynolds will most likely be the first base tandem. That we can all agree on. I don’t want to talk about first base in 2016. Let’s look ahead to 2018.
In two years, if all stays the same, Dickerson will have three more years of team control left and will be 28. He’ll stay a .300 hitter with power and, if his past is any indication, will spend a decent amount of time on the disabled list. Let’s face it, Dickerson can freaking hit. His numbers are outstanding when he’s on the field – an OPS of .879 – and his bat will be essential for the Rockies to produce a talented lineup with the absence of Troy Tulowitzki. Sadly, his defensive woes have followed him as closely as his hitting reputation; poor routes and an average arm don’t play well in the vast Coors Field outfield. If injuries mount or his defense deteriorates, the next logical step is to move Dickmania to first.
McMahon faces a critical year this year at AA New Britain, and comes through with flying colors, solidifying his status as a top-10 organizational prospect. McMahon posted an OPS of .896 over his three minor league seasons, all while playing guys who are at least 2.5 years older than he is. If he can overcome the 52-game road trip that’s looming for New Britain while their new ballpark is finished, he’ll be on the fast track to make his mark with the Rockies. In 2018, McMahon will be entering his age-24 season and likely sitting behind superstar Nolan Arenado at third (in this scenario, Nolan signed an extension for life J). McMahon is a talented defensive third baseman in his own right and moving to first would diminish that skill set slightly, but still would be the most logical step to get a talented guy into the lineup.
It really comes down to who the Rockies want to move from their natural spot. Both players bat left and throw right. Both players would be learning a new position. Dickerson is the most logical choice based on his struggles in the outfield, but McMahon’s infield experience and defensive reputation would be an asset over at first. Helton’s most underrated skill was his defensive ability, committing 79 errors in 20694 chances over his career to go with a 23.2 Ultimate Zone Rating (he saved 23.2 runs over his career, according to Fangraphs).
If these were the choices to play first, Bridich would have a really tough decision to make. However, it’s not up to him. It’s up to you, the reader! Who would you rather have?
Ian Desmond’s landing spots are disappearing by the day. After turning down a seven-year, $105 million dollar extension with the Nationals in 2014, Desmond is out of a job after doubling down on himself and losing. Now that his options are limited, he could be signed cheaply for a short-term contract. Would he fit in Denver?