Josh Rutledge’s name was known by few in attendance when he made his major league debut on July 9th. Less than a month later, Rutledge has become a household name.
The fill-in for Troy Tulowitzki has performed admirably since his call up, posting a .381 average and a .638 slugging average. He’s hit safely in 13 of 16 contests, including 12 of his last 13. Remarkably, nine of those games have been multi-hit performances. Defensively, the 23-year-old has been solid, to say the least. If any questions have been raised regarding Rutledge’s performance, it’s why he hadn’t been called up sooner.
The surprising dominance by the former third-round selection allowed the Rockies to give away Marco Scutaro for next to nothing last week, an act that was generally not well-received by Rox fans. But the move all but guarantees a longtime starting spot for Rutledge, who will likely shift to second base once Tulowitzki makes his long-anticipated return.
Rutledge’s prominence in the field, combined with a repeat Gold Glove-winner in Tulowitzki, can’t help fans from reminiscing of the Rocktober glory days. The middle infield tandem of Tulo and Kaz Matsui was the pillar of a tremendously rigid Colorado defense. Ever since Matsui left the team, the D has been a Corvette running off of a four-cylinder engine.
Finally unearthing a reliable infielder can make significant strides towards next season’s success. The numerous position battles placed the team in a state of flux and uncertainty. Entering 2013 with fewer wide-open position battles will create a chemistry the Rox have lacked all year.
Despite the hot start, Rutledge will continue to play for his job on a week to week basis. He has not experienced any gut-check type slumps at this point in his early major league career, and hit only slightly above .300 while at Double-A Tulsa. With the loss of Scutaro, fellow rookie DJ LeMahieu will receive a golden opportunity to prove his worth at second base, just feet away from Rutledge.
For the time being, Rutledge has a favorable edge over LeMahieu, but a strong showing from the former LSU Tiger may at least keep him in the conversation of receiving more playing time. But barring a complete fallout from Colorado’s newfound stud from Alabama, Rutledge slot in the starting lineup is his to lose.
Source: Bleacher Report