Jurickson Profar and Ezequiel Tovar of the Colorado Rockies know something about setting the table.
And it has nothing to do with anything in the kitchen.
Rather the pair of performers are complementing each other at the top of the Colorado Rockies lineup by getting on base to help ignite the team’s offense whether it be on the road or at hitter-friendly Coors Field.
Jurickson Profar and Ezequiel Tovar are feeding off each other to generate offense at the top of the Colorado Rockies lineup.
A veteran of nine professional seasons, the switch-hitting Profar — a late addition to the Rockies roster after signing a one-year contract in March for the 2023 campaign — has assumed the leadoff spot in Colorado’s batting order while hitting at a .241 clip entering Saturday’s home game against the Detroit Tigers.
Earlier this season, he notched a career-high 37-game on-base streak from April 15-May 30, which stands as the longest streak in the Majors in 2023 and the seventh-longest streak in franchise history.
Meanwhile, Tovar — in just his second MLB season although still qualifying as a rookie — has been on a tear at the plate in the last month while batting second in the lineup. Entering action of July 1, the shortstop was on a career-best 13-game hitting streak in which he had hit at a .359 pace to bring his batting average to .269 after a .187 start in the first three weeks of the season.
Colorado Manager Bud Black talked Thursday about the importance of having Profar and Tovar as the Rockies’ 1-2 punch at the top of the order.
“I like to think that Profar has an on-base component,” Black said about the outfielder whose .322 on-base percentage this year is right at his .322 mark for his career. “I think he is comfortable at the top, even though there is a little bit of danger with some power leading off. I have always liked that.”
Profar has six career leadoff home runs, including two this season (April 12 vs. St. Louis, June 23 vs. Los Angeles Angels) with both coming on the first pitch he saw in each game.
His two first-pitch leadoff homers in 2023, according to Elias Sports Bureau, make him the first Rockie in franchise history to do so twice in the same season and the first MLB player to hit a leadoff homer from both sides of the plate on the first pitch in the same campaign sine Jose Reyes in 2006.
Added Black about the Willemstad, Curacao, native: “So, I think more than anything, just a good at-bat. He can work a count. For the most part, he swings at strikes and takes balls. It gives the guys at the start of the game a little bit of a look at the (other team’s) starter.”
Tovar, meanwhile, has hit safely in 26 of 29 games since May 27 before entering action July 1. During that span, he hit .330 to top the Rockies, rank 13th in the Majors and seventh in the National League.
Black spoke about the recent play of Tovar, a native of Maracay, Venezuela.
‘Tovar, he’s just been hitting,” Black said. “Like I said, the last month, he’s been legit. The last two weeks he’s (hitting) over .300 with an OPS over 1.000. It’s real offense.
“So, since they (Profar and Tovar) have been swinging well,” the manager added, “we decided to put them at the top (of the order). You want guys on base for Mac (Ryan McMahon) and (Elias) Diaz and the three, four or five hitters so they can maybe sock some doubles.”
Both Tovar and Profar recognize the ability each has to complement the other’s talents to fuel the Rockies offense.
“Obviously, he (Profar) is also an aggressive hitter,” Tovar, who played in just nine games with 33 at-bats for the Rox a year ago while batting .212, told Call to the Pen’s Kevin Henry. “He loves to swing at the first pitch. I think it benefits us at the top because I sometimes go up there and I know the pitcher is thinking the same thing so he might throw a couple balls my way and (I can) be a little more selective. I think we balance each other off. We are practically the same guy. We tend to feed off each other. He is good.”
Profar agrees with Tovar, who at age 21, is nine years his junior and, according to Baseball Reference, has compiled a 1.1 defensive WAR at shortstop to tie him with Anthony Volpe of the New York Yankees for the highest mark among Major League rookies.
“We are doing a pretty good job,” the veteran outfielder said his teaming up with Tovar. “I’m a guy that sees a lot of pitches. When I am on base, he makes contact and has some power, too. Last night, we did a pretty good hit-and-run (Thursday against the Los Angeles Dodgers). Those are the things we can do.”
Added Profar: “We can get better. We have been doing pretty good in the lineup and a pretty good job throughout the lineup. We just have to keep it going.”