Right now, the Rockies’ top three players in terms of WAR are Tulo, Chris Iannetta, and Todd Helton. In all likelihood CarGo will pass both Helton and Iannetta by season’s end – he’s pretty close already – but none of the top four should come as a surprise. It’s the fifth and sixth ranked guys that surprised me – Dexter Fowler and Seth Smith. I suppose I should’ve expected that Fowler and Smith are the team’s fifth and sixth best position players respectively, but they both are so often maligned that it’s easy to forget the contributions they have made this year, particularly Fowler. The Rockies have to be fairly comfortable with their current outfield going forward, but who knows if they recognize that.
Since being called back up Dexter has been on a pretty strong tear. He has upped his WAR over a full point in that short period of time, which loosely means that he has won them over one game since then. That may not seem like much, however it’s significant. Fowler drives us all a little crazy, but even at a portion of his potential, he’s pretty valuable baseball player. The Rox would have a very tough time finding a better defensive centerfielder. Not to mention, he has the ability to punish left-handed pitching. Granted, he has struggled some against righties, but he still maintains close to a .350 OBP when hitting from the left side.
Before the season, I think most fans would have taken a .287/.341/.499 line from Smitty. In fact, I suspect most didn’t think he would be able to produce at that level. Obviously, the problem with Seth has been his performance against lefties. In 66 at-bats, he has a measly .627 OPS. But, I think right now the positive outweighs the negative with Smitty. The positive is a .376 wOBA and .886 OPS against right-handers. It goes without saying that most pitchers are right-handed, so anytime you have a guy that can produce like that against righties, he’s definitely an asset.
When the Rockies lay out their blueprint for this upcoming offseason, it’s important they recognize Smith for what he is. Last year, they came into the season hoping he could be an everyday player, but his inability to hit lefties has left a hole. The Rockies have probably learned their lesson, but they can’t overreact. Smith hasn’t been their problem; Ryan Spilborghs has been their problem. In fact, Ryan has probably been the worst player on the team. I love the guy, but this isn’t a popularity contest. The reality is that Ryan Spilborghs has the lowest WAR among the Rockies’ position players. That includes Ian Stewart, Jose Lopez, EY, Amezaga, Blackmon, Chris Nelson, and anyone else not named Dinger. Only, Spilly has a lot more at bats than any of those guys. His performance has been a huge problem this year, yet it doesn’t get brought up much.
If the Rox fix the right side of their broken right field platoon, they are set in the outfield. At this point, surely they’ve seen enough of Dexter to finally put their faith in him. Next time he goes into a slump, hopefully they’ll let him ride it out. CarGo is a stud. We all know that. All they need is a cheap outfielder with a decent glove and the ability to hit lefties. With that, they will have a highly productive group. Despite a disappointing year all around, I’m seeing promise out of the Rockies’ outfielders. In fact, I’m highly encouraged.