Don't look now, but suddenly the Colorado Rockies -- who were way up, then way down -- are back up again in the National League West.
Or if not up, exactly, they're certainly trending in the right direction. Once with a four-and-a-half-games lead in the West, then trailing just last week by six games, the Rockies entered Wednesday only two-and-a-half games behind the first-place Diamondbacks ... and with almost exactly the same run differential. The Rockies trail the second-place Giants by two games, and have a significantly better run differential than San Francisco.
Which is to say, there's essentially a three-teams tie at the top of the standings. And it's not at all clear -- not clear to me, at least -- that the Rockies aren't the best of those three teams.
Granted, there are deficiencies. There's a black hole at second base, with Jonathan Herrera's early-season successes already a vague memory. The existing evidence suggests that Ty Wigginton is miscast as an every-day third baseman. And with only three reliable starting pitchers, the Rockies are obviously going to miss Jorge De La Rosa until and unless Aaron Cook rediscovers his past form.
But there's some real upside, too. Among the Rockies' four primary outfielders, only Seth Smith has played particularly well. We know that Carlos Gonzalez is capable of better, and we know that both Seth Spilborghs and Dexter Fowler are capable of much better. What's more, with the exception of Jason Giambi the Rockies' bench players have done almost nothing; that is, even less than you would reasonably expect from the scrubeenies. Oh, and is Ubaldo Jimenez really a 2-7 pitcher? Probably not.
Finally, Troy Tulowitzki has been somewhat non-productive since his amazing April, but isn't it reasonable to assume he's going to post MVP-style numbers from this point forward? Assuming, of course, that he's healthy?
The Rockies are far from a sure thing to reach the playoffs, and Baseball Prospectus doesn't like their chances. But given the Diamondbacks' unlikely success and the Giants' significant injury issues, the Rockies seem well-poised to take advantage and spend at least a decent chunk of this summer in first place.
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