Colorado Rockies: Projecting the 2018 Opening Day Lineup

The Colorado Rockies were a pleasant surprise in 2017, as they finished 87-75, and making a playoff appearance for the first time since 2009. Heading into 2018, the Rockies are once again looking to make a splash and to show the franchise is continuing to move towards success.

The lineup does not change much heading into the new season, and so with that, what should Rockies fans expect from their clubs lineup in 2018?

Charlie Blackmon, CF

Blackmon has served as the Rockies primary lead-off hitter for the better part of four seasons now. In his career in the lead-off spot, Blackmon has been phenomenal. He has a slash line of .309/.367/.517 with a .884 OPS. Blackmon has also posted a 121 wRC+ and a .376 wOBA in that time.

2017 was a massive year for Blackmon as he played in a career-high 159 games, finishing with a line of .331/.399/.601 and posting 6.5 wins above replacement. He finished as an All-Star as well as fifth overall in the National League Most Valuable Player voting.

Looking ahead to 2018, Blackmon is projected for another productive season as, according to Fangraphs ZiPS, the outlook is .310/.372/.544, finishing with 31 home runs and 116 RBI. Blackmon is also projected to post a 3.9 WAR. Blackmon should once again be one of the best lead-off hitters in baseball this season.

D.J. LeMahieu, 2B

There is not enough to speak on how valuable LeMahieu has been for the Colorado Rockies over the last few seasons. Originally a throw-in as an extra player once upon a time in a trade with the Cubs, involving former top prospect Ian Stewart, LeMahieu has been a significant staple of the Rockies offense for five seasons.

In that time, LeMahieu has slashed .303/.357/.404 and a career .762 with the Rockies. With the Rockies, LeMahieu has two Gold Gloves (2014 and 2017), two All-Star appearances (2015 and 2017), and a National League Batting title which he earned in 2016 when he led the NL with a .348 batting average.

While LeMahieu has never been a huge power guy, LeMahieu has a career .311 average and has been a dynamic force in the lineup. Looking toward to 2018 expect more of the same quietly solid consistency from LeMahieu.

Ian Desmond, LF/1B

Heading into the 2017 season, the Rockies were in desperate need of a first baseman. Enter Ian Desmond. The team signed Desmond to a five-year, $70 million contract to play first base. The only problem was, he hardly saw any time at the position. Desmond ended up faring more as a utility player, which rightfully frustrated many Rockies fans.

Desmond will more than likely serve in a platoon role, with it looking as though he will see most of his time in left field while filling in at first base as well. To say that Ian Desmond’s first year in Colorado was terrible is an understatement. Due to various injuries and ailments, Desmond only appeared in ninety-five games for the team. He hit .274 with just seven home runs.

As the team progresses toward 2018, Desmond will hopefully improve in a positive direction from last seasons campaign, as he looks for a rebound and a new chance to prove his massive contract was ultimately worth it.

Nolan Arenado, 3B

When you think about Arenado, you instantly think about his dazzling golden defense at the hot corner. Arenado is also the glue holding this starting lineup together.

Arenado was once again impressive in 2017 as he finished in the National League MVP discussion for another year and also took home yet another Gold Glove. Offensively, Arenado slashed .309 with 37 home runs and 130 RBI. It was his third straight season eclipsing the 30/100 mark. He also posted a 5.6 WAR, also a career high.

Arenado is extraordinarily consistent and an offensive juggernaut who the Rockies have come to rely on for the last five seasons. In 2018, expect much of the same as he attempts to continue to cement his legacy in the Mile High City.

Trevor Story, SS

After breaking onto the scene on Opening Day 2017 against the Diamondbacks and ace Zack Greinke on his way to a respectable injury-shortened rookie season, Story was unable to build on his success. That being said, Story still put together a solid season last year.

Story only slashed .239/.308/.457, but still posted a positive WAR (1.3), as well as 24 home runs. The inconsistency plagued Story’s ability to get going too much and his inflated strikeout rate of 34.4% did him no favors.

He will look to bounce back in 2018 and as long as he can stay healthy and cut down on the strikeouts, should find more success moving forward.

Gerardo Parra, RF

Cargo is a free agent, and all signs point to the team finally moving on from him, which gives Parra a chance at the starting role. Last season, Parra was sneakily outstanding as he finished .309/.341/.452 with only a 15.8 K% clip and posting 0.8 WAR. It was an upgrade from the year before where he posted a -1.7 WAR.

Parra unfortunately last season was ailed with a quad injury which forced him to miss most of June. Still, Parra played in more games than the season before and is looking to continue an upward trend. He does not project to do much, but he could very well surprise again in 2018.

Chris Iannetta, C

Iannetta makes his return to the Mile High City after a six-year hiatus in which he saw time with the Angels, Mariners, and Diamondbacks. In 2017, Iannetta found his groove once again as he had his most productive season since 2014.

In only 89 games, Iannetta hit 17 home runs and posted a 2.2 WAR. He slashed a respectable .254/.354/.511 as well as produced a 120 wRC+

Rockies fans who have missed Iannetta over the past few seasons will be rewarded with a touch of nostalgia in 2018.

Ryan McMahon, 1B

McMahon currently projects as the Colorado Rockies Opening Day first baseman. Although brief, McMahon made his major league debut for the Rockies last season, appearing in 17 games. During 2016, McMahon was the Rockies No. 9 ranked prospect in the system.

While not finding too much success in his brief stint in the majors, McMahon tore through Triple-A, slashing .374/.411/.612 in 70 games. The club is hoping to rely heavily on McMahon in 2018 as they continue their shift to their youth movement.