It's been a very difficult season for the Colorado Rockies with only a few bright spots. One of those, however, is coming from the newly acquired Tyler Colvin. Colvin came to the Rockies in a trade from the Chicago Cubs in the off-season as a utility fielder and a pinch hitter. Much to the delight of fans, he's been one of the team's most consistent hitters and has given manager Jim Tracy reason to consistently start him. The problem is figuring out where to insert him on a daily basis.
So far Colvin has started 16 games in right field, 13 in center field, five in left field, and three at first base. In the 61 games in which he has played, he is batting .302 with a slugging percentage of .599 and an on-base percentage of .331. He's been just about the only batter as of late who has been consistently performing for the Rockies and fans are wondering why he isn't starting every game.
Where would he start? He's a natural outfielder who has only started five games in the infield (all at first base) over his four-year career. With Todd Helton the usual starter there, and the capable Michael Cuddyer as a backup when needed, I'd rather find another spot for Colvin to play. Left field is out of the question. Carlos Gonzalez is having a career year and is one of the cornerstones of the Rockies franchise.
I had been thinking for most of the first half of the season that center field was a more likely option. Dexter Fowler can be streaky at times, but he's been playing much more consistently than he did last year in the first half of the season. He's currently batting a career-high .281 with a team-high nine triples and seven stolen bases. For a guy with his blazing speed, he should have a higher stolen base total considering that he's leading the team in walks right now with 35. While I would consider having Colvin take over in center and dangling Fowler as trade bait, Fowler is still is playing well enough and with enough promise that I'd give him a little more time to see if he can continue to develop.
That leaves us with Michael Cuddyer's right field position and this is where I believe that Colvin should be playing on a regular basis. Cuddyer is my favorite player on the team because of his hustle and general attitude. However, the blazing start that he had to the season has fizzled out as the rigors of playing in Denver have settled in for the 33-year-old. He batted an excellent .299 in April. By the end of May his average had dropped to .282 and at the end of June it had fallen to .257. Whether this is simply a slump or Cuddyer physically wearing down remains to be seen.
My plan for Colvin would be this: insert him as a regular player into right field for the next few months and see what he can do when he's playing in the same spot every day. Cuddyer can platoon at first base with Helton and pinch hit when he doesn't start. Helton's batting effectiveness can be maintained if he's rested more, and Cuddyer can get some rest so he's ready if the Rockies made a second-half surge (don't laugh, it's possible). Colvin has earned an opportunity to play every day, and the Rockies need him in the lineup. Right field is the only place for him to go.
Julie has followed baseball her entire life and became a Rockies fan upon moving to Denver in 2001.