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Welcome to the Wild Wild West

Posted 04/29/2010 by Scott Bruskin

A breakdown of the Rockies main competition in the N.L. West.

Artwork by Rebecca Holt

Artwork by Rebecca Holt

Since the N.L. West divisional realignment in 1994, no team has won the division 3 straight years in a row. Ladies and Gentleman… I now present to you the 2010 Los Angeles Dodgers. After winning the division the past two years, they enter
this year as a team that many believe can and will repeat again this year as division champions. But, as we take an in-depth look at the Dodgers compared to the Rockies, it appears that the Rockies are truly the most talented team in the West.

Dodgers Rockies
C Martin   x Ianettea/Olivo
1B Loney Helton x
2B DeWitt Barmes x
3B Blake x Stewart
SS Furcal Tulowitzki x
LF Ramirez Gonzalez x
CF Kemp x Fowler
RF Ethier x Hawpe
P Padilla Jimenez x
CP Broxton x Street x

Catcher: Martin vs. Ianetta/Olivo

What should jump out at you when looking at this matchup is not just offensive production but also defensive prowess. Martin was named the 2007 Gold Glove winner, and also was selected to start his first major league All Star game that season, as well. Only problem is, that was only Martin’s first full major league season. That is scary. Although Olivo has pop (23 dingers last year), he and Ianetta are nowhere near Martin’s average and defensive skills.

Advantage: Dodgers

First Base: Loney vs. Helton

Loney is a good player, a solid veteran, if you will. He will hit .300 with 15-20 HR’s and 75-95 RBI’s per year. But Todd Helton is just Todd Helton. Helton has been the face of the Rockies franchise since he started playing for Colorado back in 1997. Helton has put together over 2,000 hits, over 300 home runs, over 1,200 RBI’s over his tenure in Colorado. His career average sits at a pretty .328. Helton has a career OBP (on base percentage) of .427, meaning that he gets on base via a hit or walk more than 40% of the time. Just to put things into perspective; Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez’s career OBP is .390, and Mariners star Ichiro Suzuki sits at .378.

Advantage: Rockies

Second Base: DeWitt/ Belliard vs. Barmes

All are above average defenders, although Barmes is considered to have the ability to be an everyday shortstop, too. Where Clint separates himself is with his HR and RBI potential. Last year, Barmes his 23 home runs with 76 RBI. Belliard and Dewitt finished with a combined total of 12 home runs and 43 RBI’s.

Advantage: Rockies

Third Base: Blake vs. Stewart

Both have some pop in the bat with 18 and 25 home runs respectively. But Blake is just a better hitter at this point. Until Stewart can get on base more via the hit or the walk (.322 on base percentage), Blake will win this position battle with a .363 OBP. Besides, Stewart also strikes out to many times, finishing with 138 total punch-outs.

Advantage: Dodgers

Shortstop: Furcal vs. Tulowitzki

Both are the leaders of their team’s infields, and both are explosive players. Furcal gets its done with his base stealing abilities and his average. Where Tulo is special is with his ability to play Gold Glove quality short stop and also hit for power. Troy is the only shortstop in all of baseball who hits cleanup for his team. Troy is a key player and it seems that the Rockies go as he goes. And typically, he goes pretty well.

Advantage: Rockies

Left Field: Ramirez vs. Gonzalez

This is an example of one player just getting started, while one player is ending his career. Gonzalez is a scout’s dream, a five-tool player who can do it all. Cargo can run, he has a strong defensive arm, he hits for power, he can hit for average; basically an all-star in the making. Then you get to Man-Ram. Ramirez has been an offensive stalwart for more than 15 years. Smashing 500 plus homeruns, reaching over 2,5000 hits, and is just 200 or so RBI’s from 2,000 in his illustrious career. Ramirez is a sure-fire first ballot hall-of-famer. However, Ramirez’s best days are far behind him. Gonzalez, however, has yet to reach his peak. As far as this year is concerned, the slight advantage will go to Cargo because of his ability to play gold glove caliber defense at all of the outfield positions, and also his ability to swipe a base. Gonzalez has the power to hit 30 HR’s and record 100 RBI’s a year, but that is not his role. His role is to get on base and set up Helton and Tulo. Both players are remarkable talents.

Advantage: Rockies

Center Field: Kemp vs. Fowler

(It should also be noted that Seth Smith may at times play left field; when Smith plays left field, Cargo slides over to center.)

Kemp is a very good player, one of my Dodger favorites. He just plays the game right, and also knows how to fill up the stat sheet. Kemp finished last year with a .297 average. Kemp also had 26 homeruns, 101 RBI’s and 34 steals. Talk about a complete player; in total Kemp notched 180 hits. Fowler is still a work in progress; he is a young kid who has the tools to be a good leadoff hitter, or two hole hitter. Fowler has the power to put balls in the gap, and once he gets running, there is no stopping him. Also, Dex is a defensive stud. He has the range to cover a lot of ground in Coors Field, and also has a fairly strong arm.

When Cargo is in Center, Advantage: Rockies
When Dexter is in Center, Advantage: Dodgers

Right Field: Ethier vs. Hawpe

Defensively, the edge goes to Hawpe, as he has been overlooked for Gold Gloves the past few years. However, offensively, Ethier is just better. Ethier strikes out much less than Hawpe, (nearly 17% of his at bats, compared to Hawpe’s 27%,) and Ethier has a flare for the dramatics, hitting many walk off homeruns for the Dodgers, including one against the Rockies last year on June 30, 2009 when Ethier had a two-run blast in the bottom of the 13th inning. More hits, fewer strikeouts, give me Ethier!

Advantage: Dodgers

Ace: Padilla vs. Jimenez

5 Reasons for Jimenez
1)    99 mile an hour fastball
2)    86 Mile an hour hook
3)    No hitter
4)    Handles the bat well
5)    Now has playoff experience

Honestly, Jimenez is the definition of an ace. The Rockies can count on Ubaldo to go pitch against any other ace and essentially keep them in the game. Ubaldo will be considered for the NL Cy Young Award this year. Padilla is a journeyman pitcher who just so happens to be first in the rotation for Los Angeles. The Dodgers are hoping that Padilla can help keep the seat warm and groom two potential future aces in Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley. Lets see… so far this year Jimenez is 4-0 with a .95 ERA with 25 strikeouts. Padilla on the other hand is 1-1 with a 7.06 ERA, and he has only 23 strikeouts.

Advantage: Rockies

Closer: Broxton vs. Street

I understand that Street is not playing right now, but he will be back for the Rockies sooner rather than later. Both of these closers are dynamic. Broxton throws heat as he can touch 100 MPH, but Street is savvier and has excellent location. Both pitchers rarely walk batters, and each relinquishes very little home runs. I would not complain if my team had either of these players.

Advantage: Tie…

You can see from this that although the Dodgers have a higher payroll than the Rockies, (12th overall compared to Colorado’s 16th overall,) the Rockies have far more talent. These rankings do not even take into consideration a team’s chemistry, which is probably the Rockies best feature. Every starter except Carlos Gonzalez came up through the Rockies’ minor league systems, so these players are very familiar with each other. Look for your very own Colorado Rockies to win the West and compete for a World Series ring.