Fantasy Baseball Team Previews – Colorado Rockies

Andy Cross - The Denver Post

2015 was another tough season for the Colorado Rockies with just 68 wins, but there were good points. Arenado took the next step, Blackmon and LeMahieu improved and Carlos Gonzalez showed the world he isn’t done yet. Entering this season there is a lot of excitement in this line-up but the pitching looks ropey so they are going to have to outscore teams, home and away, if they want to stand a chance of winning 80 games.

An interesting offseason saw them add Gerardo Parra on a three-year contract, allowing them to trade away Corey Dickerson to get themselves a closing option going forward. That trade baffles me because a team that isn’t going to be in contention doesn’t need a closer and they have Ottavino to come back. Oh, and it hurts the fantasy value of Dickerson. They have signed Mark Reynolds as a platoon partner for Ben Paulsen after showing Wilin Rosario the door. And they signed Jason Motte to replace John Axford.

Overall, this is the worst offseason of the three NL teams I have covered so far. All rebuilding teams, but thankfully there are some really interesting fantasy players and story lines that make the Rockies worth watching in 2016.

AL East

AL Central AL West NL East NL Central NL West

Baltimore

Chicago WS Houston Atlanta Chicago

Arizona

Boston

Cleveland Los Angeles A Miami Cincinnati Colorado

New York Y

Detroit

Oakland New York M Milwaukee

Los Angeles D

Tampa Bay

Kansas City Texas Philadelphia Pittsburgh

San Diego

Toronto Minnesota Seattle Washington St. Louis

San Francisco

 

Projected Starting Line-up

  1. Charlie Blackmon
  2. DJ LeMahieu
  3. Carlos Gonzalez
  4. Nolan Arenado
  5. Gerardo Parra (vs RH), Ryan Raburn (vs LH)
  6. Ben Paulsen (vs RH), Mark Reynolds (vs LH)
  7. Nick Hundley
  8. Cristhian Adames

Administrative Leave: Jose Reyes

Nolan Arenado, 3B

Arenado made the leap from breakout potential to full on superstar in 2015, hitting 42 home runs and driving in 130 all whilst maintaining his 0.287 batting average from 2014. In a team that was frankly pretty average, scoring 97 runs and driving in 130 is extremely impressive. Entering this season, he is clearly one of the three elite third baseman who could all go in the first round. I have him projected for 32 bombs at a 0.287 average with a combined 180 runs and RBI. Those numbers slide him in just behind Donaldson and Machado for me, but it is enough for me to have him at the back end of my first round as opposed to the middle of the first where I would consider the other two.

Charlie Blackmon, OF

2016 is the chance for Charlie Blackmon to stake a claim as a no-brainer top 12 fantasy outfielder

2016 is the chance for Charlie Blackmon to stake a claim as a no-brainer top 12 fantasy outfielder

Charlie Blackmon is another Rockies player that took that next step in 2015, increasing on his 2014 numbers by 15 steals whilst pretty much matching his batting average and his home run totals. The fact that he has now put up pretty much two identical years suggests to me there isn’t a big decline coming in 2016, so I would expect him to put up similar numbers once again this season. I have him projected for 17 homers, 145 combined runs and RBI, 0.285 batting average and a slight decrease in steals to 35, splitting the difference of the last two years. That has him in my top 15 outfielders which is about right with where he is going. However, a guy who only gets me 17-20 homers is a tough sell in the third round, when 45 steals is unlikely, especially when I can Carlos Gomez a round or two later.

Carlos Gonzalez, OF

Gonzalez is no longer the 20/20 threat that he was from 2010 to 2013, but last season he managed to hit 40 bombs whilst staying healthy and playing the most games of his career. Playing in Colorado is always going to boost his value and if the sacrifice for not getting the steals is a healthy CarGo who can hit 30-plus homer it is something fantasy owners can deal with. There is always the injury risk concern with him which makes drafting him 50th overall scary, but the decline in steals should help him stay healthier, hopefully. I don’t think we see 40 homers again but I have 33 projected at a 0.265 average to place him just outside my top 20. If I had skimped on power early then CarGo is someone I would be tempted to go for, but if Adam Jones is still there then I would prefer to go that slightly safer route.

DJ LeMahieu, 2B

LeMahieu makes it three Rockies hitters who took a leap in 2015 with his coming in the form of a 13 steal increase to 23 and a batting average increase to 0.300. With him currently being projected to bat second I think he will get the opportunity to repeat the steals as well as match the impressive runs and RBI totals he put up in 2015. His average is likely to fall back closer to his career average of around 0.280, but I still think he can keep it over 0.285. Those projections see him fall just outside my top five at second base in roto and 10th in points. Currently he is being drafted as the 11th second baseman at pick 144 on average, making him a superb value for me right now and someone I am targeting if I can’t pull the trigger on Altuve in the first and he doesn’t fall to me in the second.

Gerardo Parra, OF

Can the mountain air of Colorado make Parra a must start first baseman or his doomed to be a platoon player in 2016?

Can the mountain air of Colorado make Parra a must start first baseman or his doomed to be a platoon player in 2016?

Parra took full advantage of the opportunity he was given in Milwaukee, hitting 0.328 with nine homers and nine steals. His move to Baltimore didn’t quite go as well with his batting average dropping to 0.237 over his 224 AB’s in Camden Yards. However, he did still manage to put up five steals and five homers in his time in Baltimore and it was also his first foray into the American League. This season he will get to play in another great hitter’s park, and he moves back to the NL so the signs look good. However, the Rockies signed Ryan Raburn last week who is a potential platoon partner for Parra and may detract from his AB’s. This potential has dropped him from a top 50 outfield option to someone outside my top 60 because suddenly that 15/15 upside becomes a 10/10 option with 0.270 batting average and reduced runs and RBI numbers. However, being in a platoon does offer potential batting average upside because last season he hit over 0.300 against righties and 0.238 against lefties so there are pros and cons of a potential platoon. For a guy going outside of the top 200 picks as the 59th outfielder you aren’t investing much right now but it is a case of looking who is still available. And judging whether you would prefer Conforto, Myers, Piscotty or DeShields over the potential question marks that Parra offers you.

Jose Reyes, SS

It doesn’t get more frustrating for fantasy than Jose Reyes right now. Reyes is on administrative leave from the Rockies until his legal issues are over and even then there may be a suspension coming from the MLB. Reyes is on the decline in his career right now, but being in Colorado should help slow that decline. On a per game basis he is one of the best shortstops in the league but has always struggled with injuries. I have him projected for 50 games giving him 11 steals and a couple of homers with a 0.285 batting average. His ADP is in free fall and if you are drafting today it is next to impossible to draft him outside of a last round pick because leave and suspensions generally do not make players DL eligible in most leagues so you cannot even store him there.

Nick Hundley, C

I have Hundley as a borderline mixed league viable catcher in a one catcher league. Hitting in Coors is always going to help hitters and Hundley is no exception. 10-15 home runs are possible after hitting 10 last season and his batting average shouldn’t hurt you, and has 0.300 upside. Currently a good value for me as the 20th catcher off the board and someone I am happy to gamble on in the last round of one catcher leagues.

Any Other Business?

  • Ben Paulsen, 1B: Paulsen could be a handy fantasy option if he was assured of every day AB’s. I have him 14 homers in 100 games so 20 would be possible in a full season. However, much like Parra he is much better against righties than lefties so everyday could really drag down his 0.265 average I have him projected for.
  • Ryan Raburn, OF: An NL and deep league only option. The only reason I mention him is because if he is in a platoon with Parra then he becomes a great, very cheap daily play when he is in the line-up

Projected Rotation

  1. Jorge De La Rosa
  2. Chad Bettis
  3. Jordan Lyles
  4. Jon Gray
  5. Tyler Chatwood

Jorge De La Rosa

Being the best pitcher in Colorado is nothing to shout about but De La Rosa could be a useful pitcher at times in 2016

Being the best pitcher in Colorado is nothing to shout about but De La Rosa could be a useful pitcher at times in 2016

The best of a bad bunch of options given the tough surroundings he pitches most of his games in. In 12-14 team leagues he is a streaming option and he is a low end rotation guy in leagues deeper than that.

Jon Gray

The former first round pick gets a mention because of his prospect status, but outside of keeper and dynasty leagues he is a spot starter at best and usually when away from home.

Closer:

Jake McGee

Should have the job to himself as he is a much better pitcher than Jason Motte.He may lose some saves to Ottavino late in the year but the biggest issue is that Colorado won’t give him enough opportunities for him to be a 35-save closer. Also, in Colorado there is always the potential that if he gets it wrong he will find himself being punished in the biggest fashion, which didn’t happen so much in Tampa.

Next Man Up:

Jason Motte

At least until Ottavino returns this is the guy you want if you are drafting back-ups with the potential to close. McGee spent a large amount of time injured last season so there may be opportunities for Motte. But even if was assured of being a closer all season he would still be near my 20th overall closer given the team and the home ball park.

Prospect Potential

  • Tom Murphy, C: Murphy has legitimate power upside for the Rockies and actually managed to hit three homers in just 35 AB’s in his first foray into the majors. His playing time is seemingly dependent on defence but if the power is legit then there is a real case we could see him play at first base just to get his bat in the line-up and then use him as the back-up catcher on Hundley’s off days. This is a guy I am willing to gamble a late round pick on if I have a deep bench because the power upside is tremendous. At the very least I am keeping an eye on the Rockies first base situation and putting him on my watch list.
  • Trevor Story, SS: Story may get his opportunity early this season with the legal issues of Jose Reyes and the lack of need to protect him with Rodgers the more exciting prospect going forward. Story has the potential to be a 15-20 homer guy and will always have increased fantasy value thanks to playing in Coors. Can play anywhere in the infield but he doesn’t have the power to be the first baseman, Arenado is entrenched at third and LeMahieu should have another good year so his playing time almost solely comes down to Jose Reyes making him a tough buy until we know more about Reyes.
  • Jeff Hoffman, SP: His prospect value took a plunge when he was traded from Toronto to Colorado, and Toronto is hardly a dream place for a pitcher! I don’t see him being much more than a spot starter if he does come up this season and once again it is mainly going to be away from home that you will think about using him.

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