Justin Morneau hitting the concussion disabled list back in mid-May was very scary given his history with concussions. He had gotten things back on track in his first year with Colorado and he was just getting going before the concussion with a .354 AVG and .936 OPS over his last 12. So the circumstances under which Ben Paulsen has been thrust into duty aren't great, but nevertheless he has run with the opportunity.
Paulsen was up and down with the Rockies four different times last year, eventually spending all of September as a major leaguer en route to a 31-game, 66-PA sample. He made good on that playing time with a .920 OPS and four homers, three of which were actually on the road. Of course, as a 26-year old first baseman, he wasn't exactly considered a prospect so I'm sure the small sample of work went relatively unnoticed.
He couldn't really get it going in his early 20s and thus never took off as someone to watch. He was a college product drafted in the third round so he was always kinda old for his level which made his modest numbers even more unimpressive. He started to rally in his mid-20s, though that was likely at least somewhat in part to an assignment with Triple-A Colorado Springs. He hit .292 and popped 38 HRs in 999 PA with that club in 2013-14. He was split neutral home and road in '13, but leaned on the park big time last year (1.051 OPS, 14 of his 20 HRs).
Paulsen enjoyed even friendlier confines for 36 games before his call-up as the Rockies have switched their Triple-A affiliate to Albuquerque. Colorado Springs has a 127 park factor for runs and 109 for homers for left-handers. Albuquerque amps those up to 123 and 124, respectively. Unsurprisingly, Paulsen posted a .903 OPS at home, though just a .799 on the road. In 53 PA with the Rockies so far, he has simply crushed everything from everyone everywhere.
Despite better than a 1.000 OPS in three of the four prime splits (home, road, v. left, v. right) and an .833 in the other (v. left), there are some holes in Paulsen's game, including the aforementioned lefties. I've only got the data back to '11, but he had a 233-point platoon split favoring righties (.859 OPS). So we're realistically looking at a strong-side platoon guy only with Paulsen. But that's still something quite useful given where he makes his home.
His strikeout (22%) and walk (8%) rates in the minors are fine, especially with the power (.182 ISO) potential and we are looking at someone who could get an extended stay with the Rockies because we just don't know what to expect out of Morneau health-wise right now. This situation can't be trifled with, especially in light of Morneau's history so we could see upwards of another month for Paulsen.
And if he keeps hitting – not necessarily at this 1.103 OPS clip because that's unrealistic, but something north of, say, .850 OPS could keep him around even after Morneau returns. Paulsen lacks a real home defensively, but he could play a corner if his bat was still clicking. With Corey Dickerson's foot and Carlos Gonzalez's general health history, playing time for Paulsen might be there for longer than expected. Invest in Ben Paulsen.