Josh Rutledge came on the scene when Troy Tulowitzki went down to injury last season. In 73 games he batted .274, hit 8 HRs, drove in 37 runners, and swiped 7 bags. Given the fact that Josh skipped AAA, and his major league career consists of half a season, it is easy to dismiss last year and ratchet down expectations for 2013. What do you say we take a closer look, though, and see if we can't find an objective reason to draft Josh a little higher than we might have, otherwise, in 2013.
Let's start with what tends to make fantasy owners fall in love with a player, and that is his power/speed combination. Josh carried his above average minor league ISO (isolated power) into last season, and continued it, posting a respectable 0.195. He has the power, and playing half of his games in 2013 at Coors Field should make fantasy owners sit up and take notice. The fact that he only hits 31% of his fair balls as fly balls needs to improve, if he is ever to attain home run-hitter status, but, for now, I am comfortable projecting 18 four-baggers for Josh in 2013. Now for the speed question. We do not have history to fall back on with Walt Weiss, but I will guess, based on the fundamental way he played the game, the new Rockies manager will let Josh run. While Josh's lack of plate patience (see below) will limit his opportunites, I still think fantasy owners can expect 15-20 SB, next season.
As mentioned earlier, Josh skipped AAA, did not pass Go, and did not collect $200, on his way to the majors. With less than half a season under his belt, it remains to be seen if he can adequately adjust to major league pitching, but his minor league history gives me hope that he has that ability. Entering the majors, Josh consistently had a minor league contact rate above 81%. While his plate patience was next to nil, with a 4% walk rate, owners should be comfortable feeling these skills will convert well to the major league level, and give Josh the possibility of hitting around .260. This is lower than the .274 he hit last year, but still respectable, and if you are drafting for a dynasty or keeper league, the plate patience should improve with age.
For fantasy purposes, Josh has SS eligibility, going into 2013, but with Troy coming back, he is expected to move to 2B, slightly enhancing his fantasy value. Overall, I expect a nice season from Josh, and I would draft him as one of the final SS off the board in a 15 team mixed league, and enjoy every minute of that 15-15 potential.