January 8, 2014
Fantasy Team Preview
The Colorado Rockies finished with a 74-88 record in 2013, good for last place in the National League West and tied for the fourth-worst record in the National League, and they didn’t add much talent this offseason. Despite the renowned 1-2 punch of Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, it’s not unreasonable to take a cursory look at this organization, shake your head, and move on.
That said, Coors Field plays havoc with value in the fantasy world. Average pitchers become players to avoid. Average hitters become players to target. And anyone with even modest power becomes an automatic add on watch lists in just about every league.
Projected Starting Lineup
There are plenty of fantasy factors in this lineup, and it’s not just because of Coors Field. Let’s start with the two most obvious names. Tulo is the best fantasy shortstop in the game when healthy, and he showed last season that he can still produce a ton of value even if he misses some time. His days of 15-plus stolen bases are behind him, but he’s still a stud. Cargo is perhaps the most underrated fantasy star we have right now and is a borderline first rounder in 16-team leagues. Cuddyer will be overrated coming off of a campaign where a .382 BABIP led him to a batting title but is far from useless, while Rosario is a fringe top-10 option at catcher and Arenado is a fringe top-15 option at third base. Morneau is worth a flier as a late-round pick but I’m not overly optimistic. I’ll address Dickerson and LeMahieu below.
Also, I’m aware this might not be how the Rockies set up their batting order, but I don’t want to live in a world where Dickerson/Drew Stubbs or LeMahieu/Josh Rutledge lead off.
This is a fairly interesting bench as far as fantasy is concerned, with a nice blend of power, speed and positional flexibility. Rutledge is probably the best bet to have some value in 2014, although I find him to be a bit overrated. Stubbs doesn’t figure to see regular playing time but is a nice dual power/speed threat when he does play, even if he’ll kill your average. Wheeler has power but no clear path to playing time, while Pacheco and Barnes are not of much interest.
Projected Starting Rotation
Despite what you know about pitchers and Coors Field, there are some names in the rotation that could very well seduce owners. Don’t be seduced. Chacin and De La Rosa are similar in that they don’t strike enough people out to be worth the risk of starting at home. That being said, both can produce respectable ERA totals and have some value in deeper leagues. Anderson is a fantasy siren, and it breaks my heart to say it but you should pass on drafting him. Chatwood and Lyles just aren’t very good, despite formerly ranking fairly high in weak Astros and Angels farm systems, respectively.
Projected Closer Candidates
The Rockies signed Hawkins this offseason and immediately named him the closer, because why not? He’s obviously not an elite option but he’s probably not quite as bad as you think either. Draft him, but don’t expect him to retain the closer’s role past June.
Brothers is the presumptive Closer Of The Future, but he’s got to get his walk rate down to be a strong fantasy asset. Right now his WHIP partially mitigates his high strikeout rates. Bettis might not even start the year in the majors, but most project his ultimate role to be in the bullpen and he has closer-type stuff. He’s probably the best bet to challenge Brothers for saves by August.
Position Battles to Watch
Second Base: D.J. LeMahieu vs. Josh Rutledge
First Base/Outfield Rotation: Justin Morneau vs. Corey Dickerson vs. Drew Stubbs vs. Charlie Blackmon vs. Brandon Barnes
Player to Target: Carlos Gonzalez
Player to Avoid: Brett Anderson
Deep Sleeper: Tom Murphy