SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Offense is never an issue in Colorado, and the Rockies have the requisite pieces to repeat last season’s performance, which led the National League with a .741 OPS and ranked second to the St. Louis Cardinals with 706 runs scored.
The Rockies have the defending National League batting champion (Michael Cuddyer) in the No. 2 hole, two elite hitters (Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki) in the 3-4 spots, and a catcher (Wilin Rosario) who leads the majors with 49 home runs at the position over the past two seasons. If Justin Morneau can rediscover his old power stroke with the move from Target Field to Coors Field, he’ll help lengthen out the order even further as Todd Helton’s successor at first base.
If the Rockies have a void, it’s in the leadoff spot, and manager Walt Weiss has only so many options available to fill it.
Center fielder Dexter Fowler, who logged a .368 OBP in 357 starts at leadoff with Colorado, went to the Houston Astros in December in a trade for outfielder Brandon Barnes and pitcher Jordan Lyles. That leaves Weiss with basically two alternatives: (1) He can go with second baseman DJ LeMahieu in the No. 1 spot or (2) he can plug in his center fielder there. The available choices are Drew Stubbs, Barnes, Charlie Blackmon and Corey Dickerson.
LeMahieu has a .190 batting average (8-for-42) in 10 career games at leadoff and a .314 career OBP with the Chicago Cubs and Rockies. But Weiss thinks he possesses some attributes that might allow him to grow into the job.
"He’s got great instincts and a great feel for the game, and he handles the bat really well, so he’s an option," Weiss said.
Stubbs would obviously be the best option because of his blazing speed and base-stealing ability; he stole 100 bases in a three-year stretch with the Cincinnati Reds from 2010 to 2012, but his .310 career OBP and penchant for striking out make him less than an optimal fit.
Dickerson could be the sleeper in the group after hitting .371 with a 1.046 OPS in 75 games with Triple-A Colorado Springs. Even though his monster numbers came in the friendliest of hitting environments, Colorado’s manager is sold on the offensive attributes he brings to the team.
"He’s one of those guys that can hit under water," Weiss said.