Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Rockies Excel in Stranding, Doubling Up Runners

During the Rockies freefall from first place to last in the National League West, baserunners have been markedly timid, hesitant and sluggish. Frequently they are being stranded or called out on double plays when in scoring position. No. 5 slugger Garrett Atkins leads the majors with 13 groundouts into double plays, with cleanup hitter Matt Holliday not far behind with nine. At the same time, among NL teams only the Giants have fewer stolen bases than Colorado's measley 24, two fewer than Baltimore's Corey Patterson's total alone, even though the Rockies are built for speed as much as for power. Only Jamie Carroll with five bags ranks in the major's top 50, while the team batting average with runners in scoring position with two outs ranks well below the Mendoza Line. Manager Clint Hurdle for going on three weeks has elected to remove the green light he had given baserunners not because they were being thrown out, according to the Denver Post, but because they stood there as if waiting for the light to get greener. From now on, expect third base coach Mike Gallego to force the issue, sending baserunners more often to put the defense out of position, thus reducing double plays and stranded runners, plus increasing stolen bags and presumably scoring.