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Rocky Mountain Maulers

By Thomas J. Harrigan, Fantasy Sports Writer

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Did somebody break the humidor?

Coors Field is playing like it's 1998, and the Colorado Rockies have assaulted their way to first place in the NL West.

Colorado leads the majors in numerous offensive categories, including runs, hits, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, doubles and home runs, by a large margin in most cases.

Colorado has scored 215 runs, 36 more than the second-place Chicago White Sox. In fact, Chicago is as close to the 12th-place Washington Nationals as they are to the Rockies.

The Rockies are hitting .310 this season, 25 points higher than the Detroit Tigers, who rank second. No other team in baseball is hitting above .267.

In 18 games at Coors Field, they have batted .355 with a 1.001 OPS and 33 home runs. No team besides Colorado has a batting average higher than .296 or an OPS above .831 at its home ballpark.

If your fantasy team has been successful this season, it's likely you have a Rockies hitter or two on your roster. The team has eight players with at least 46 at-bats hitting .317 or higher.

Troy Tulowitzki at Coors Field is basically the greatest hitter who ever lived.

He's batting .608 (not a misprint) with seven doubles, six home runs, 22 RBI, a 4/11 K/BB and a 1.775 OPS at home this season.

Nolan Arenado, Colorado's 23-year-old third baseman, is nearly halfway to Joe DiMaggio with a 27-game hitting streak.

As a rookie, Arenado batted .267 with 29 doubles, four triples, 10 homers and a .706 OPS in 133 games.

This year, he's turned some of those doubles and triples into home runs and is batting .324 with six home runs, 26 RBI and an .881 OPS.

Arenado will have to clean some things up -- most importantly, his 20.4 percent infield fly-ball rate -- if he's going to sustain a batting average above .300, but his strikeout rate is down from 14 percent as a rookie to 11.1 percent this season due to a lower chase rate and the power increase is an encouraging sign.

Justin Morneau, the 2006 AL MVP, found his own fountain of youth in a can of Coors Light and has hit .331 with seven home runs, 26 RBI and a .935 OPS.

Charlie Blackmon, whose beard makes him look like he just wandered down from the Rocky Mountains, has just three fewer home runs (seven) than strikeouts (10) and is hitting .359 with a .997 OPS, 30 runs, 16 extra-base hits, 25 RBI and eight steals. Only Tulowitzki has been a better fantasy player than Blackmon this season.

Right fielder Michael Cuddyer, who hasn't played since April 17 due to a left hamstring strain, hit .317 with a .906 OPS prior to his injury after winning the NL batting title last year.

Surprisingly, the team hasn't missed him because its three-headed outfield platoon of Brandon Barnes, Drew Stubbs and Corey Dickerson has been highly productive on its own.

All three players are hitting .323 or higher and have combined to bat .343 with four home runs, 16 RBI, 37 runs and seven steals.

Fantasy owners in non-daily leagues really can't use any of them due to the playing-time split, but their success is more proof of how lethal Colorado's offense has been this season.

That we've gotten this far without mentioning Carlos Gonzalez really isn't a knock on him. He's been one of Colorado's least impressive hitters, but only because his teammates are on another planet.

He's hitting .284 with seven homers, 25 RBI, 24 runs, two steals and an .854 OPS.

Just six of Colorado's 20 remaining games in May will take place at Coors Field, but 16 of 28 games in the month of June, including 10 of the first 11, will come there.

The Rockies haven't been nearly as good on the road, but their .726 road OPS still ranks seventh in baseball, and Coors Field is as good of a slump-buster as there is in the game.

05/08 12:53:55 ET


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