Rockies manager Bud Black has begun figuring out how he’s going to fill out the lineup card.
“I think,” he said, “Charlie (Blackmon) will hit lead off, and Nolan is going to hit at the top of the lineup.”
Also, pencil in the catching position in the No. 8 slot.
But then. ….
Well, time will tell.
And here is a likely tale that will be told:
Hitting leadoff: Charlie Blackmon
What Black knows for certain is that despite the Rockies compiling the lowest batting average in franchise history a year ago, there is an ample supply of productive hitters to chose from. The challenge is getting all the pieces put in place.
And it starts with Blackmon.
“No matter where he is going to hit he’ll be productive,” said Black. "I like the fact with Charlie there is danger right out of the gate with the potential for home runs, extra-base hits, quality at-bats. The first at-bat of the game, the pitcher is on guard. And I like the fact that one of the better players is getting extra at-bats when you get toward the end of the game."
Blackmon has been primarily a leadoff hitter in his big-league career -- 2,891 of his career 3,512 at-bats.
Hitting second: Daniel Murphy
Murphy is the new guy in town, signed to a two-year free-agent contract, and quickly was slotted into the first base role. He has been primarily a second baseman in his career, but when he signed in pro ball he was a third baseman, and admits there's a comfort zone to first base that he never enjoyed as a second baseman.
Black welcomes the Murphy offensive potential.
"He's capable of hitting a lot of places in the lineup," said Black. "He's a top of the order bat for sure. He's capable of hitting leadoff, second third, fourth, fifth. ... like all our guys."
Murphy has primarily hit No. 2 in his career, and with success.
Hitting third: Nolan Arenado
Arenado is the face of the franchise, ranked the third-best player in Major League Baseball by MLB Network, and earning the praise of the likes of even Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, who gives Arenado a nod as the best third baseman of his time. Arenado brings legitimate game-breaking power to the No. 3 slot. Pitchers will attempt to work around him -- and he has to be careful not to help pitchers out -- because they know he has the game-changer ability.
He's been primarily a middle of the lineup guy, hitting third more than anything else, but having 2,224 of his big-league at-bats in either the third or fourth spot. He has a combined .297 in the two spots with 157 of his 186 big-league home runs.
Hitting fourth: Trevor Story
Story had his coming-out party in 2018. He began slipping into the No. 4 slot and showed legitimate production ability. Not only did hit hit .304, but he had 17 home runs, the same as hitting fifth, but he had 70 fewer at-bats in the cleanup spot. He also drove in two more runs hitting fourth (52) than he did hitting fifth (50).
Hitting fifth: David Dahl
Dahl has the tools to hit anywhere in the lineup. He has power and he has speed. He has that skill set that fits best in the middle of the lineup, and in his brief big-league playing time has shown signs of being very comfortable in that role.
Hitting Sixth: Ian Desmond
Desmond is a run producer. He finished third on the Rockies in RBI a year ago despite a sub-par season in terms of batting average. While he has had his most success hitting second, his strikeout total can be a concern that high in the order. He has shown an ability to impact a lineup in the fifth and sixth slots.
Hitting Seventh: Garrett Hampson or Ryan McMahon
Hampton and McMahon will battle for the second base spot this spring. The right-handed-hitting Hampson and left-handed-hitting McMahon could split time. Hampson has legitimate-base-stealing ability, and McMahon has impressive power. They would be a good compliment.
Hitting Eighth: Chris Iannetta
Iannetta has been a bottom of the order bat through his career with 2,427 at-bats in the 7-8 spots. His job is handling the pitchers and advancing runners.