On Monday, the Rockies returned home only to find that the humidor had been destroyed. Because the team is out of contention, management has decided to revert back to pre-2002 Coors Field. At least, that’s what it seems like. Over the last two nights, the Rockies and Marlins have combined for nine homeruns. The Rox had four in last night’s losing effort. Obviously, I don’t really think they abandoned the humidor – nor should they by the way – but with the team playing so poorly, the homeruns have given us a little extra excitement. With the way things have been going, the offensive fireworks have been a welcome addition. They lost last night despite hitting four, but it’s still better somehow. I guess that’s the point we’ve reached this year. A simple respectable showing is now the nightly goal.
Of the nine homeruns in the last two games, three really stand out in my mind – the two off Mike Stanton’s bat and CarGo’s laser beam to the upper deck in right. The three bombs were extremely impressive on a visual level, but they were also noteworthy because they came from two of the NL’s best young outfielders. Last night, I found myself wondering which player I would rather have on the Rockies, so I decided to hash that out this morning.
I read an article the other day that said CarGo is overrated. Naturally, the main point was that his home/road splits are lopsided. Interestingly, the author seemed to think that nobody pays attention to the offensive advantages of Coors Field. As any Rockies’ fan can tell you, that is absolutely false. There is a permanent stigma attached to Coors, and, just in case anyone has forgotten, that stigma cost CarGo the MVP award last year. I’m not saying he should’ve had won it, but his candidacy proved that the bias is still alive and well — as did Larry Walker’s first go around with the Hall of Fame.
Sure CarGo is having a down year by his standards, but it definitely isn’t a bad year. His OPS will likely be around .900 when the season is over and that’s elite level performance. It’s a little unfair to discredit that because he plays much better at Coors Field. For one, a lot of players play better at home. Home field advantage is a concept that has been around a lot longer than Coors. But, there is also a false assumption that you can plug any player in at Coors and they’ll give you an elite performance. Sometimes it feels like no one outside of Denver understands that this is wrong. The homerun CarGo hit last night had very little to do with the stadium. He’s a great player in any ballpark and it’s a shame that people are arguing otherwise based on 174 road at bats this year. Not to mention, he’s been unlucky away from Coors. His road BABIP is .258. Plus, he’s only hit three more homeruns at Coors than away from it. So the disparity isn’t as great as some would lead you to believe. The Rockies are lucky to have him.
Still, as much as I love CarGo, if I had to pick between him and Mike Stanton, I would have to go with Stanton. That is not a knock on CarGo. If we were drafting players to build a franchise around, Stanton would be pretty high on my list – top five, in fact. Since the Marlins called Stanton up from Double-A last year, he’s hit fifty homeruns. That equals out to roughly one homerun every fifteen at-bats. That’s an impressive total for any player, ranking him in the top twenty-five all time (he doesn’t qualify obviously). However, when you consider the fact that he’s just twenty-one years old, it becomes an unbelievable stat. As we’ve seen over the last couple of nights, Stanton has prodigious power, but the scary part is that he has yet to completely harnessed his full capabilities.
Stanton is a freakish athlete. Obviously, he’s enormous, but he can also move. According to UZR he’s one of the top five defensive rightfielders in baseball. Like CarGo, he’s the total package. But, when CarGo was Stanton’s age, he was in High-A ball. Again, this isn’t meant as a knock on CarGo. It’s more about my love for Stanton, which is substantial.
Of course, none of this is based in reality and we should just be happy that CarGo plays in Denver. But, it is a fun comparison nonetheless. So, just for kicks, who would you rather have?