Josh Rutledge Is Ready for a Big Second Half
When Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained hip flexor, fantasy teams and the Rockies knew their clubs would take a hit. Luckily for Colorado, they had a replacement in-house who has some offensive skill of his own. Hopefully, your fantasy team had him as a handcuff already.
Josh Rutledge, who can play second base, third base and shortstop, can swing the bat.
Rutledge came onto the scene in 2012 and, in 291 plate appearances, put up a .274/.306/.469 slash line with eight home runs, pretty darn good for a middle infielder. He took a step back in 2013, hitting .235/.294/.337 in 314 PAs. However, he's hitting a career best .299/.345/.468 this year with a nERD of 0.59 and a weighted on-base average of .357.
Among shortstops with at least 160 plate appearances, his wOBA would rank third in the National League, and his Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) of 113 would rank fourth. That means Rutledge created 13% more runs than a league average hitter in the same number of plate appearances, adjusted for ballpark factors. That's higher than Philadelphia second baseman Chase Utley's 112, and shows just how productive Rutledge has been when he's in the lineup.
Unfortunately, his defense is less-than-league average, which has been one of the reasons Colorado manager Walt Weiss has been unwilling to give him a lot of playing time in the past. However, with Tulo out of the lineup, he's had no choice and, so far, Rutledge has made up for a lack of defensive ability with some terrific offensive numbers. It also doesn't hurt that he plays half his games at Coors Field, where he has hit .280/.330/.438 with a .767 OPS over 401 career plate appearances. On the road, he's hit .247/.288/.395 and a .683 OPS in 366 plate appearances.
In other words, get him in your lineup when he's at home, and consider someone else when he's away from Coors.
Rutledge is also not what you would call a patient hitter.
As you can see, Rutledge doesn't walk very much and, this season at least, has struck out more than the league average. He's also hitting .398 on balls in play, and with the league average at .299, it's likely his numbers will come down a bit.
Still, according to our projections, Rutledge projects as a guy you'd like to have on your roster during this last month of the fantasy regular season. We project him to finish with a slash line of .289/.335/.468 and a wOBA of .345, all excellent numbers for a middle infielder. He also has 19 career stolen bases (although none this year so far), so he can add some value in that department as well.
Not only that, he's eligible to play at three positions, and with a Coors Field boost and Tulowitzki on the shelf for a while longer, he's a player you should scoop up right now.
Unless someone has already beaten you to it.