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The 2010 Rockies hung around the playoff race until mid-September, but crashed and burned with a season-ending eight-game losing streak. Despite the poor ending, many will remember last season as the year when three of Colorado's mainstays became superstars. Ubaldo Jimenez's red-hot first half placed him in consideration for the National League Cy Young award, Troy Tulowitzki joined Hanley Ramirez to form a two-headed shortstop elite, and Carlos Gonzalez became an MVP candidate and a household name.
Tulo and CarGo both project as first-round picks, and Jimenez should be one of the first dozen pitchers off the board, but the Rockies offer much more to Fantasy owners than just their Big Three. Like Tulowitzki and Gonzalez, Dexter Fowler, Ian Stewart and Eric Young are all under the age of 27, and all have something to prove this season. Fowler could still develop into the on-base and stolen base threat he was in the minors, as could Young, though he first has to beat out Jose Lopez and Jonathan Herrera for the second base job. Stewart has already shown his ability to clout homers, though his good batting averages from Triple-A have yet to translate to the majors.
Jhoulys Chacin, 23, showed last season that he is an emerging pitching talent, though he will have to show that he can strike out a batter per inning over his first full major league season this year. Jimenez's and Chacin's efforts will be supported by a solid bullpen, which got a little deeper with the acquisition of Matt Lindstrom from Houston. He will join Rafael Betancourt and Matt Belisle as potential set-up men for closer Huston Street.
The Rockies are not without their problems, as Todd Helton has posted supbar numbers in two of the last three years, and starting pitchers Aaron Cook and Jason Hammel will have to show that they can bounce back from disappointing seasons. Even so, the Rockies should be well-represented on most draft lists this spring.
Bust ... Jorge De La Rosa, SP
Had De La Rosa pitched a full season last year, he would have worked his way into the Top 60 starting pitchers in Fantasy. His success was owed to a career-low 1.32 WHIP, but he benefitted from an usually-low .104 batting average by opponents on flyballs in play. That low average was not only out of line with his past rates but also those of his teammates. Over a larger sample of innings, expect De La Rosa to give up more hits, putting a strain on both his ERA and WHIP, making him a riskier choice, even as a late-rounder in standard mixed leagues.
Bounce-back player ... Jason Hammel, SP
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Statistically speaking, Hammel was exactly the same pitcher last year that he was in 2009. Yet despite posting nearly-identical strikeout, walk, home run, ground ball and line drive rates, his ERA jumped nearly half a run. Blame the increase on a left-on-base rate that fell by four percentage points. That might not sound like a big change, but that alone was enough to wreak havoc on his ERA. Look for Hammel to get his ERA back in the low 4.00s, which will help him to regain relevance in standard mixed leagues this season.
Late-round flier ... Seth Smith, OF
Smith started more than 100 games for the first time in his career last year, but he didn't make as much out of the opportunity as many observers thought he would. Much of the focus wound up on Smith's .246 batting average, which was 47 points below the previous year's, but his extra-base power was every bit as apparent as it had been earlier in his major and minor league careers. His track record shows that he is a much better hitter than his overall batting average and .259 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) show. Because he struggles against lefties, Smith won't play enough to merit a middle-round pick, but his power and potential for a .280-plus batting average make him a good player to target in the late rounds in mixed leagues.
|Projected Lineup||Pos.||Projected Rotation|
|1||Eric Young||2B||1||Ubaldo Jimenez||RH|
|2||Dexter Fowler||CF||2||Jorge De La Rosa||LH|
|3||Carlos Gonzalez||RF||3||Aaron Cook||RH|
|4||Troy Tulowitzki||SS||4||Jhoulys Chacin||RH|
|5||Todd Helton||1B||5||Jason Hammel||RH|
|6||Seth Smith||LF||Alt||Felipe Paulino||RH|
|7||Ian Stewart||3B|| |
|8||Chris Iannetta||C||CL||Huston Street||RH|
|Top bench options||SU||Rafael Betancourt||RH|
|R||Ty Wigginton||1B/2B/3B||RP||Matt Lindstrom||RH|
|R||Ryan Spilborghs||OF||RP||Matt Belisle||RH|
|R||Jose Lopez||3B||RP||Matt Reynolds||LH|
|Power-hitting catcher could arrive in '11 and challenge Iannetta, but he must first recover from a knee injury.|
|2||Tyler Matzek||20||SP||Class A||Class A|
|Was effectively wild in his professional debut and has the potential to reach the majors in 2012.|
|3||Nolan Arenado||19||3B||Class A||Class A|
|At least a year or two away from the majors, his power potential makes him an attractive pick in keeper leagues.|
|Hard-throwing lefty profiles as a future closer and should make his big league debut sometime this year.|
|Could debut this season and fare well immediately, but only if he can keep his elbow issues at bay.|
|Best of the rest: Peter Tago, SP; Kyle Parker, OF; Juan Nicasio, SP; Chad Bettis, SP; Hector Gomez, SS; Albert Campos, SP; Charlie Blackmon, OF; Chris Nelson, 2B; Casey Weathers, RP; Tim Wheeler, OF; Jordan Pacheco, C; Rafael Ortego, OF; Rob Scahill, SP; Mike McKenry, C; and Cory Riordan, SP.|
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