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Rockies

Stewart Ready For Big 2011 Season

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Third baseman Ian Stewart of the Colorado Rockies celebrates at home plate after hitting a home run against the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2nd inning at the Miller Park on April 5, 2010 in Milwaukee. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)

Third baseman Ian Stewart of the Colorado Rockies celebrates at home plate after hitting a home run against the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2nd inning at the Miller Park on April 5, 2010 in Milwaukee. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)

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Ian Stewart is a no-brainer, everyday third baseman for the Colorado Rockies. He’s a power hitter (he has 43 homers in the last 2 seasons), he’s a spectacular fielder at the hot corner (he had just 10 errors in 212 attempts), and at just 25-years-old, he has become a clutch hitter. The one downside of Stewart’s game has been his batting average. In 2009, his first full season in the majors, he hit .228. Stewart raised his average in the 2010 season with .256 average, but still his average did not measure up to his power numbers.

The left-handed hitter’s power numbers are on the verge of excellence. Prior to the 2010 season, Rockies pinch-hitter extraordinaire Jason Giambi said of Stewart the he hits the ball harder than anyone he’s seen in a long time and that he will be something special. After the season, Stewart acknowledged that he was very close. It was only an injury late in the season that prevented Stewart from matching or even bettering his power numbers. Additionally, Stewart took pride in the fact that he had improved his batting average by nearly thirty points from the previous season.

Stewart is eligible for salary arbitration before the 2011 season, and the Rockies are expected to offer it to him. This could mean a big boost to his paycheck, he made just under $410,000 last season. The offer of arbitration is a gamble that Stewart will continue to improve on both his power numbers and his situational hitting. Both his home runs and his RBI numbers dipped a bit in 2010, but that can be attributed to his late season stint on the disabled list with a strained oblique muscle. Had he remained healthy, there is little doubt he would have bettered his previous career highs.

In 2011, Stewart will likely be playing with a new contract, and CBS4 Sports expects him to continue to progress as a hitter. With his power and improving average, there is no reason to think he won’t top the 25 home run mark and drive in over 100 runs. He has all the potential in the world to be an all-star caliber third baseman and with the Rockies recent contract extension to shortstop Troy Tulowitzki we may be looking at a left-side of the infield that will remain intact and productive for many seasons to come.

- By Brett Heinzerling, CBS4 Sports Producer

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