Troy Tulowitzki and the Colorado Rockies had a disappointing 2011. After finishing above .500 in both 2009 and 2010, the Rockies fell to 73-89 this past year, fourth in the NL West behind the D'Backs, Giants, and Dodgers. They finished in the top 10 in baseball in runs scored, but their pitching lacked heavily, as they finished 27th in runs allowed.
However, the great thing about baseball is that teams can improve drastically from year to year. Last season was a season to forget, for both the Rockies and their fans. But, 2012 is a new year, and there are many things for this organization to be excited about.
Though the Arizona Diamondbacks won the division with 94 wins last year, it won't take that many wins to take home the title this season. Arizona was very fortunate avoiding injuries, and Ian Kennedy had a career year that won't be repeated in 2012. Don't get me wrong, the D'Backs are talented, but I would place them around the 85 win mark this upcoming season.
The San Francisco Giants finished 2011 with 86 wins, but it's hard to win a division when your offense can't score any runs. The Mariners were the only team that scored less last year, and though the addition of Melky Cabrera may help, it won't get the Giants over the hump in 2012.
Matt Kemp and the Los Angeles Dodgers went 82-79 last year, but the lack of a supporting cast is the trouble in LA. Kemp and Kershaw both had monster seasons which I don't think they repeat, and with the departure of Hiroki Kuroda, the team just has too many holes to win a tough division.
The Colorado Rockies were one of the most injury-plagued teams in 2011. Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, and Dexter Fowler missed a combined 91 games last year. The Rockies went 6-13 without Tulowitzki and 11-24 without Gonzalez. Combined, the team was 13-27 when playing with none or one of these stars.
If the Rockies can stay healthy and have CarGo and Tulo playing together for a full season, they will improve immensely. Let's hope the injury bug doesn't bite the Rockies and spoil a potentially great season in 2012.
The offseason moves to fill holes in the Rockies lineup were a huge step in becoming a contender in the NL West. Michael Cuddyer was the biggest of these moves. He comes over from the Twins via free agency, and he is looking to improve on a good 2011 campaign where he hit .284 with 20 HR and 11 SB. Cuddyer is a talented veteran player that will fit nicely in the middle of that Rockies order.
Casey Blake and Marco Scutaro were added in the offseason to try and fix spots in the infield where no one even played 70 games last year. The 2011 merry-go-round at 2B and 3B will be manned this year by Scutaro and Blake, respectively. Both are long time veterans that can hit while also giving the team some added experience.
Jhoulys Chacin is the real deal. In 31 starts last year as a 23-year-old, Chacin posted a 3.62 ERA, including a 3.57 ERA at home in the hitter's ballpark of Coors Field. He cooled down after the All-Star break, most likely due to the fact that he wasn't used to the long MLB season.
In 2012, Chacin will be ready for the long haul and will pitch like an ace. With him leading the pitching staff and newcomers like Jeremy Guthrie and Guillermo Moscoso being added to the rotation, the Rockies might be able to compliment their offense nicely and win more low-scoring games.
The prime reason—or should I say two reasons—that the Rockies will win the division this year is their star power. The dynamic duo of Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez is one of the most feared 3-4 hitter duos in baseball along with Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder in Detroit.
The scary thing about these players is that they haven't even entered their prime. CarGo is just 26 and Tulo is 27, and neither will celebrate their next birthday until October. They are both locked into long-term deals and should terrorize NL West pitching for years to come. In 2012, they begin their dominance by leading the Rockies to the division crown.