Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Colorado Rockies: Justin Morneau
The Rockies’ Justin Morneau won the National League batting crown last year and slugged nearly .500. He had the second best range factor and the second highest fielding percentage in the majors at his position. And he still only ranks as the third best first baseman in the NL West. That’s how good the players at this position are in this division.
Morneau hit a stellar .319 in his first year enjoying the benefits of playing at altitude, adding 17 homers and 32 doubles to finish with a SLG of .496. I’ll admit it, I didn’t expect him to hit that well. Last year, in my very first column for Friars on Base, I ranked him behind Yonder Alonso. Morneau had averaged .256 and 13 homers the previous three seasons, and seemed far removed from the perennial MVP candidate he was for the Twins mid-last decade. But there’s nothing like that clean, thin mountain air to put a little life back into the bat, is there!
Morneau’s home and road splits show that he certainly favored hitting at Coors Field, with 11 of his 17 homers and 52 of his 82 RBI coming in Denver. But Morneau hit more doubles on the road than at home (19 to 13), and still managed to hit .309 in road games. And at 33-years old, just a year older than Adrian Gonzalez, he could certainly continue to hit for several more years. I’m not sure there’s another batting title in that Louisville Slugger, but then, I didn’t think so last year either.