Colorado Rockies manager Jim Tracy had a slumping #3 hitter in Carlos Gonzalez at the beginning of June. The Rockies were playing below expectations and Gonzalez was not hitting like he was in 2010. In order to try and wake up Gonzalez’s bat, Tracy played around with his lineup. The major move he made was putting Gonzalez in the leadoff spot.
On June 6th of this season, Gonzalez made his first appearance at the top of the lineup card. He was batting .254 before the game against the San Diego Padres and the Rockies were 27-31. Flash-forward to the morning of June 21st and the Rockies are 36-36, only 3 games back of first place. Gonzalez has also seemed to find his stroke. He has hit .377 since moving to the leadoff spot, raising his season batting average to .281. After the numbers he put up last year, however, it is clear that the Rockies need Gonzalez to be hitting third and producing as a #3 hitter should. The question is: when does Jim Tracy shift his lineup card again and put Gonzalez back to hitting third?
If I were Jim Tracy, I would not wait until Gonzalez starts to struggle again to make the move. With confidence sure to be high, it would make sense to make the move now. The thought of a 3-4-5 combination of Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki and Todd Helton is appealing. Tulowitzki has also found his bat in recent weeks, making the move to have Gonzalez and Tulowitzki hit back-to-back even more enticing.
Here’s what the Rockies lineup could look like going forward (when they are not playing interleague baseball in an American League ballpark):
1. Charlie Blackmon (LF)
2. Chris Nelson (2B)
3. Gonzalez (CF)
4. Tulowitzki (SS)
5. Helton (1B)
6. Ty Wigginton (3B)
7. Seth Smith/Ryan Spilborghs (RF)
8. Chris Iannetta (C)
Charlie Blackmon is a recent call-up that has been a great spark plug forthe Rockies. Though he has not walked a lot (2 walks in 13 games), he has hit for a good average (.354) and already has 5 stolen bases. While Dexter Fowler tries to find his swing down in AAA for now, Blackmon has an opportunity to keep impressing management.
If Carlos Gonzalez can keep hitting like he has the past 2 weeks, he and Troy Tulowitzki would make a dangerous combo in the middle of the order. I think the time is now for Jim Tracy to move Gonzalez back to the #3 spot in the lineup and see how it works. In the long run, you would rather have Gonzalez being a successful #3 hitter than a successful leadoff hitter, so why not make the switch now?
About the Author
Written by Steve Folsom
Sports has always been my passion in life. I enjoy all sports but baseball is by far my favorite. I bring an analytical perspective to my sports consumption. Follow me on Twitter @Steven_Folsom.