A good argument exists for first baseman Mark Reynolds, since the way he stepped in for the injured Ian Desmond (who made his debut Sunday, in left field) exemplifies the way the Rockies have withstood multiple injuries and grabbed first place in the National League West through one month. Hey, that was my immediate thought when I sat down to write.
But, put simply, center fielder and leadoff man Charlie Blackmon has been the best player at his job in the league.
Of the 10 NL players with 100 or more leadoff plate appearances, Blackmon is tops in OPS (.925), home runs (seven) and RBIs (24). He has a .290 average, but he has hit .330 since a 2-for-19 start. His OPS and his .589 slugging percentage are tops among center fielders, as well.
These stats are worth remembering when you cast your Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot.
This team has a different (positive) vibe this year in spite of some individual struggles. Is that because of Bud Black? -- @ginaindenver
It begins and usually ends with pitching. Poor starting pitching like the Rockies had last April leaves teams looking dispirited. Poor bullpen work, which is how the Rockies finished the year, leaves teams frustrated. There is talent in the rotation and experience in the bullpen. Even if a team's offense is struggling, it realizes there is still a chance to win.
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"As an offense we put pressure on ourselves because we want to do well -- hit the ball, score runs and do our jobs," third baseman Nolan Arenado said. "But there's less anxiety and stress, knowing that we don't have to score six or seven to win a ballgame like has happened in the past. There are times we need to do that, but for the most part this year we haven't had to."
Black's difference is his area of expertise, which allows him credibility to personally establish and uphold standards with pitching execution. That includes challenging a young catching staff, as well.
When do the Rockies start shopping CarGo for a starting pitcher? --@vegastbone
That's easy. They don't.
Trading right fielder Carlos Gonzalez is something they do if they fall hopelessly out of the race, and they don't plan on that. If they're trying to win, they don't trade someone who is just 31 (they're not the 2016 Yankees waiting for Mark Teixiera and Alex Rodriguez, who were considerably older, while the season fell apart) and capable of carrying the team for stretches.
Besides, dealing him at the end of an expensive contract won't bring much. Prospects bring more.
What position do you see Desmond starting at tomorrow and most of the time against right-handed pitchers? Thanks. -- @grant_giroue
I love being stumped, and I am stumped here. But I would imagine this would cut some into the starts by Reynolds and left fielder Gerardo Parra, and would depend on matchup histories. Whomever doesn't start will be an asset off the bench.
What is it that Tyler Anderson needs to do to get the results he was getting last year? Is a trip to the Minors in order? -- @ATP303
With the Rockies trying to make sure that their No. 2 prospect, righty Jeff Hoffman, will come to the Majors and stick, there really isn't an alternative. But Black is calling for Anderson to correct his issues … like, now.
Director of pitching operations Mark Wiley said, "It's the consistency of the approach. He throws quality pitches, but then there's a little more effort to try to finish a guy and it's disruptive. Your mechanics sometimes change because of your mental approach to it and you try to do too much.
"He's a rhythm guy. One he locks in, he'll be fine."
Who seems like the most logical player to be added to the 40-man following infielder Cristhian Adames being designated for assignment? -- @RoxRake
This is a good way to explain a rule. To add a player to the 40-man Major League roster during the season, he has to be put on the 25-man active roster. So the Rockies will merely leave that spot open. They may need it after a trade or to add players when rosters expand in September.