It’s nearing the end of June and the Colorado Rockies are without Troy Tulowitzki again. Tell any baseball fan that Colorado would be without Tulowitzki and they would tell you the Rockies are done.
Enter Michael Cuddyer. Here we are, five days left in June, and the Colorado Rockies are tied for second in the NL West, just three games out of first. The reason the Rockies are hanging around the top of the NL West is none other than Cuddyer himself.
Cuddyer, in his second year of a three-year, $31.5 million dollar contract is one of baseball’s hidden gems. Standing in the shadows of big-time names like Torii Hunter and Joe Mauer, Cuddyer was a reliable asset for the Minnesota Twins for a decade. Since Minnesota let Cuddyer walk, no one is more excited to see he’s found his way to the Mile High City than manager Walt Weiss.
Despite no longer being hidden under big names like Tulowitzki, Helton, and Gonzalez, Cuddyer continues to put up the best season of his career. No longer a secret, Cuddyer is riding a 22-game hit streak; two shy of the club record. He has also reached based in 41 consecutive games, a Colorado Rockies record. Cuddyer is finally becoming a household name and he continues to help keep the Rockies afloat despite key injuries and a shaky starting rotation.
His numbers are downright ridiculous: .341/.394/.570. His batting average is fourth best in baseball and he boasts an OPS of .964, sixth best in the Majors. At this rate, Cuddyer is projected to finish the season with 23 home runs, 89 RBI, and a .341 average. To put those numbers into perspective, Los Angeles Angels slugger Albert Pujols is projected to finish with 27 home runs, 101 RBI, a .259 average, and at a cost of $5.5 million more per year.
The most impressive thing about Cuddyer’s bat is the fact he fought hard to keep it in the lineup. After suffering bruised ribs from an awkward collision, Cuddyer was facing a stint on the DL; and at the same time Tulowitzki went down with his broken ribs. Determined to stay on the field, Cuddyer gutted his way through baseball drills under the close eye of trainers. He convinced the front office to keep him off the DL, a decision that has all but saved the Rockies thus far.
When asked about his career best season and the reason for his success, Cuddyer replied, “As you get older, you realize what information you can apply to your game and what you can’t.”
Fortunately for Walt Weiss and the Colorado Rockies, Cuddyer has realized all the right information to apply to his game so far. He has quieted the panic surrounding another Tulowitzki injury, something Tulo should personally thank him for; and he continues to be the veteran leader amongst a young and powerful offense. Walt Weiss called Cuddyer “one of the best kept secrets in the game.”
Well ‘Cuddy’s’ finally got baseball’s attention and he’s handling it like an All-Star.