Rocky Mountain High: Colorado's Ready to Throw A Postseason Party

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Rocky Mountain High: Colorado's Ready to Throw A Postseason Party
(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

A brilliant scholar once said:  "When it's time to party, we will party hard."

Well, for the Colorado Rockies, it is finally time to put their postseason party hats on.

Revel in it, Rockies fans.

It's time for Rocktober: Part Deux.

Exhibiting a string of successes never before seen in the Rocky Mountains, the boys in purple pinstripes have established themselves as one of the forces to be reckoned with in the National League.

Yes, those same Rockies that were 18-28 on May 27 and 20-32 on June 3 (only the abysmally pathetic Washington Nationals were worse.)

Yes, those same Rockies who fired their longtime manager who had been at the helm for much of his players' entire professional careers.

Yes, those same mid-market Rockies who are one of just two teams with a payroll below $100 million to qualify for baseball's big dance (the Rox stand at about $75 million while the Cardinals are the other at around $88 million.)

While holding striking parallels to their miraculous Rocktober run of 2007 (strong starting pitching, timely hitting, and perhaps a few fortuitous calls), this 2009 version of the Rockies have given the Blake Street faithful something to brag about.

This team, currently at 91-68, could theoretically finish the season with the best record in the NL and capture the NL West crown with a sweep of the Dodgers this weekend. 

Whoa, what?  Flip that track back for a hot second...

The Colorado Rockies could finish with the best record in the National League in 2009.

Normally saying such a statement would lead people to believe that I was Rocky Mountain high, but the Rox's sustained run of victories over the first four months of Jim Tracy's tenure as manager has vaulted them into the discussion as one of the best teams in baseball.

It isn't hard to find out why this team has bounced back from their stuttering start.

Their starting rotation of Aaron Cook (11-6), Ubaldo Jimenez (14-12), Jorge De La Rosa (16-9), Jason Marquis (15-12), and Jason Hammel (10-8) are the only front five in baseball to boast double-digit victories for each of the hurlers.

Yes, the Phillies have Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels while the Cardinals can counter with Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter. But the Rockies have proven that they can hang with the big dogs this season.

Cook appears to be back to what has made him one of the most successful pitchers in Rockies history, Jimenez is a burgeoning talent with his four (or five) swing-and-miss pitches, and De La Rosa has harnessed his dynamic left arm (as well as his mental demons) to go an unbelievable 16-3 since June 1.

Even with Marquis' struggles down the stretch, the Rockies have enough frontline talent in their rotation to give them a healthy shot to advance through October.

On the offensive end, look no further than Troy Tulowitzki to see why the Rockies are where they are.

On June 6, Tulo was hitting a paltry .216 with just five home runs and an on-base percentage of .306. 

There were grumbles that perhaps Tulo's injury-plagued 2008 where he hit just .263 was destined to be the norm for Tulo rather than his scene-stealing rookie season.

But as it has been for the majority of Tulo's tenure in Colorado, as Tulo goes so go the Rockies. Not only a true leader on the field and in the clubhouse, Tulo has the ability to put up massive numbers both offensively and defensively at a premium position.

Looking at Tulo's stats as the team heads to LA for the season's final series, his batting average stands a tick below .300 at .299 to go along with 31 long balls, 90 RBI, and an on-base percentage of .380.

Oh, and did I mention his fielding percentage of .986 as well? Or his 20 stolen bases?

By himself, Tulo's Wins Over Replacement Player (or WARP) stands at 6.3, meaning his production this year has basically been worth six extra wins for the Rockies. Six extra wins that have meant the difference between October baseball and an early vacation for the ball club.

If it wasn't for some guy named Pujols (who the Rockies might get a bit more familiar with in the Division Series), Tulo's candidacy for the NL MVP award might have gained a bit more traction.

Headlining an infield that also includes picking machine Todd Helton, Clint Barmes, and Ian Stewart, these Rockies have assembled one of the top defensive infields in the game. It's no wonder why pitchers who have come to Colorado have enjoyed their time at Coors Field.

The Rockies have made it abundantly clear that their work is not finished as they head to LA for their final three-game series. 

Now that they have gotten an invitation to the postseason party, the Rockies won't head home until they've got the prettiest girl on their arm. 

Though the road ahead will pose some serious challenges for the red-hot Rox, it's time to pop the champagne and toast to the most talented team in Colorado history.

Here's to you, Colorado. Let the party echo all the way to LA.

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