One battle yet to be addressed in this space is what is going on in Colorado’s outfield. On Wednesday night, I was a guest on the Fantasy Baseball Roundtable show where we started to tackle this issue. Today, I felt it would be good to elaborate on the overall problem the Rockies are facing and how fantasy GMs need to address it and it required more space than the “Five Questions on the Rockies” would allow for.
Ultimately, two spots are already written in Sharpie. Michael Cuddyer may get some time at first base, but he will be the starting right fielder come Opening Day. Whether or not you believe he will play center or left field, Carlos Gonzalez undoubtedly has one of the other two spots on lock down. Based on reports, let’s assume he stays in left and opens up the job in center for debate. The Rockies are not short on option. Drew Stubbs, Charlie Blackmon, and Corey Dickerson all have plenty of talent and will have plenty to say this spring as to who breaks camp with that starting spot.
Blackmon hitting towards the top of the lineup provides a decent blend of run scoring ability and average that would benefit fantasy teams. In 258 trips to the plate last season, he hit .309 after hitting .283 in 121 back in 2012. While his BABIP numbers were slightly high last season at .366, he showed in two stints at Triple-A that he can produce BABIP numbers in the mid-.300’s and has been able to do that over most stops in the minors.
The question that comes is “what he may be allowed to do on the bases?” Despite showing the ability to steal 30 bases back in 2009, his steals have been in the mid-teens over the last several seasons with home run numbers that have barely cracked double-digits. Defensively he represents little concern, but at the plate he pales in comparison to the other two options at Colorado’s disposal.
The first of those is Stubbs. Starting with the obvious, we know this guy is going to strike out at least 25 percent of the time. He has managed to do that in every season at the Major League level. What should be curious to owners is that this is a player who has consistently put up BABIP numbers north of .320, but could not hit better than .233 last season. That alone should be in for a correction with a full-time spot and more at-bats. Stubbs certainly has struggled in the past against righties, hitting just .216 against them last season and .211 against right-handed pitching over the last three years. His power upside, though, is intriguing. In Cincinnati he showed he can power more than 20 home runs over the fence and Colorado is similarly friendly. Does he potentially end up a platoon player? That would be the only danger here, especially where the bulk of the pitching most players see is right-handed.
That brings us to Dickerson. He certainly has what it takes to win the starting job, but he could just as easily end up in the minors to start the year. He could platoon well with Stubbs overall if Colorado wanted to go that route. In terms of home runs, Dickerson hit 32 in Single-A and followed it up with 22 between Single-A and Double-A in 2012 before hitting a combined 16 between Triple-A and Colorado last season. As Mike Podhorzer pointed out last night, he could steal 15 bases while hitting .270 with 20 home runs if he gets off to the right start. Those numbers would certainly be fantasy relevant and make him a strong number three outfielder. He simply has a lot of risk associated to it.
Fantasy owners simply need to hope for a clean resolution. If Stubbs is the guy, he is certainly draftable given his speed and power capabilities. Dickerson would also be draftable in mixed league formats. Blackmon should not entice owners beyond deeper formats and NL-only leagues and a decision to start him would be the only one an owner would likely want to avoid. Gut here says Stubbs is the guy with Dickerson nipping at his heels the whole way.