The first three weeks are in the books in the 2013 MLB season.
Your leader in the National League West?
Nope, it’s not the $1 billion Los Angeles Dodgers.
Nor is it the defending World Series champion Giants.
It’s not even Kirk Gibson’s gritty, hustling Diamondbacks — a trendy sleeper pick in March.
Instead the hottest team in all of baseball is the Colorado Rockies, who’d won eight straight until losing to the Diamondbacks on Sunday. Colorado is still tied with Atlanta with a league-best 13 wins. The teams were scheduled to open a series in Denver Monday night, but were postponed via poor weather — again.
Maybe Colorado has been inspired by the team’s 20-anniversary season. Or the Rockies are getting the proverbial first-year bump from manager Walt Weiss. Perhaps all the snow in Denver has let the team get more swings in the batting cages.
Actually there’s a straightforward reason for the team’s April success: hitting.
The Rockies average 5.8 runs per game. The trio of Carlos Gonzalez, Michael Cuddyer and Troy Tulowitzki are each own an OPS north of 1.000.
Dexter Fowler — in a contract year — has seven home runs. Second-year catcher Wilin Rosario is slugging nearly .550.
What in the wide, wide, world of Vinny Castilla is going on here? Somebody break the humidor in Coors Field?
The Rockies mashing the ball is no surprise. The team’s very respectable 3.87 staff ERA certainly raises an eyebrow, when the staff contains journeyman Jhoulys Chacin, Jon Garland, Jorge De La Rosa and Juan Nicasio. Notice the name Drew Pomeranz — the main piece Colorado got from Cleveland in the Ubaldo Jimenez deal — is nowhere to be found.
He could be called up from Triple-A Colorado Springs now that Chacin and his 3-0 record and 1.46 ERA are on the disabled list with a lower back strain.
At some point the Rockies pitching is going to level off. If that happens, remember the Rockies were able to slug there way to the 2007 National League pennant with Francis (in his first Rockies go-around), Aaron Cook, Josh Fogg and Jason Hirsch combining for 108 starts.
Even if that happens the offense, so long as Tulowitzki can stay healthy — he hasn’t played in more than 150 games since 2009 — and Gonzalez and Foxler keep mashing the Rockies should hang around, if only by bludgeoning people at home. The knock on Gonzalez is he’s nothing special away from Coors. On the road his OPS is nearly 250 points below what he does at home. Still, he gets 81 games in the thin air and he makes the most of them.
Colorado’s early record is probably inflated with six of its wins coming at the hands of the currently offensively inept San Digeo Padres, but the Rockies might stick around long enough to at least be part of the Wild Card discussion.
This is the National League, after all.
[photo via Getty]