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Rockies' Stewart ready for big year

Ian Stewart should get 550-575 ABs this season with plenty of base runners to knock in.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Remember the "good old days" when owning a Colorado Rockies starter meant a lot of home runs, runs and RBIs? The "Blake Street Bombers" with Andres Galarraga, Larry Walker, Vinnie Castilla and Dante Bichette?

That was, of course, pre-dehumidified baseballs and a change in team philosophy to more running and defense over the long ball. These days the Rockies struggle to score runs and their 1,551 over the last two seasons is the lowest since 1994-1995 (1,358) which included a baseball strike.

Interestingly, despite the low runs total, the 2009 Rockies had their most homers in a season (190) since 2004. Last year's Colorado lineup had just one 30+ home run hitter - shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (32) and three 20+ home run hitters (Clint Barmes, Brad Hawpe, Stewart).

Of those three 20+ HR hitters, Stewart seems the most likely to step up to the next level. Stewart's AB-per-HR (17.0/1) was better than Barmes (23.9/1) or Hawpe (21.8/1) and that is with him being the least veteran of the group with just 841 career plate appearances in 263 games.

His 17.0 "pace puts him ahead a group including: Evan Longoria (17.7/1), Ryan Zimmerman (18.5/1) and Aramis Ramirez (20.4/1).

True, Stewart will definitely have to raise his batting average to a more respectable level than .228, but he'll be just 25-years-old on opening day (April 5th). Don't worry about the signing of Melvin Mora. Mora will be a spot starter at first and third and a pinch hitter.

As the full-time third baseman and batting sixth in the Rockies lineup behind Tulowitzki and Hawpe, Stewart should get 550-575 at-bats this season with plenty of base runners to knock in. If he keeps his HR ratio in the same neighborhood, that's 30 HRs and close to 90 RBI. I'd be happy to make him my starting third baseman with those statistics.

And to date, he is not being selected very high in early drafts. Right now, Stewart is the 15th third baseman off the board with an ADP (Average Draft Position) of 134.0.

Stewart could be a "Best Bargain" candidate this year.

2009 Third Basemen HR Ratios

PlayerABHRAB/HR
Mark Reynolds5784413.1
Alex Rodriguez4443014.8
Ian Stewart4252517.0
Evan Longoria5843317.7
Ryan Zimmerman6103318.5
Aramis Ramirez3061520.4
Brandon Inge5622720.8
Mark DeRosa5152322.4
Pablo Sandoval5722522.9
Michael Young5412224.6
Mike Lowell4451726.2
Casey Blake4851826.9
Gordon Beckham3781427.0
Chipper Jones4881827.1


Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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