I picked a stinker for my first game of the year to attend live last night, as the Rockies lost to the lowly Astros 4-3. I'm not panicking, but the Rockies might want to start hitting better, period. While the pitching staff is more than pulling their weight, ranking 1st in MLB in WAR, the hitters have been 23rd in that category (14th in the NL). This is not some UZR-fueled issue either (though the defense is negatively rated too), as the offense is ranked 24th in batting runs above average with -13.7 this year.
Looking at Baseball Reference, the Rockies are hitting 16 points lower than a league average team calling Coors Field home and are OPSing 31 points lower than average. This is the killer, though: the Rockies are "hitting" .200/.281/.330 from innings 7-9 (league average .250/.325/.388). The ninth inning has been especially difficult for Colorado, as they are hitting a woeful .156/.230/.211 in that frame (league average .245/.314/.388). In Late and Close situations, Colorado is batting .203/.281/.332 (league average .244/.326/.376). Maybe this is just statistical noise (and I've argued this in the past), but I'd like it to stop, and soon.
What does this all mean, besides that the Rockies thus far have been a below-average offensive team? The Rockies' 15.2 total WAR through 58 games would suggest that they have been a 33 win team this year ((.3 * 58) + 15.2), so they're still playing below expectations. The problem with all of these numbers is that they tell us what has happened but don't tell us why. Why are the Rockies performing so poorly in late innings and high-leverage situations? They don't give us actionable advice that we could pass on to players and coaches.
I mean, I could tell you that while the Rockies as a team have good plate discipline and strike zone judgment from their top ten ranks in zone swing % (65.4%) and outside-zone swing % (26.8%), but I can't tell you why they rank 28th in MLB at making contact with pitches in the zone (86.2%). I can't tell you why they've been excellent against the cutter but poor against the curveball. And most of all, I can't tell you why these problems have been exacerbated in the late innings of games.
The bottom line is that I hope someone can tell the Rockies why they're doing this, and soon, because they are a much more talented hitting team than they've shown thus far.
Draft news, a JDLR update, and more after the jump...
Day two of the MLB Rule 4 Draft has come and gone, and the Rockies made 29 picks on the day, highlighted by former Team USA closer Chad Bettis in round two. Colorado went college-heavy on Day Two, as ten of their top 11 picks overall were collegians.
The Rockies also seem to be on a quest to single-handedly destroy the ACC's depth at the quarterback position, as they picked NC State's starting signal-caller, Russell Wilson, in 4th round to join 1st rounder Kyle Parker, Clemson's QB. Speaking of Parker, it seems like he's going to sign. Last year's #26 pick, Brewers prospect Eric Arnett, signed for $1.2 million. Expect Parker to sign more in the $1.5 million range.
Colorado picked Mark Tracy, son of Jim, a catcher out of Duquesne, for the second straight year, this time in round 22. This time he's likely to sign with the club and would probably start in Casper.
Also of note for me was the Rockies' selection of Rocky Mountain product Marco Gonzalez in the 29th round. Gonzalez might not grade out highly in terms of stuff (and probably won't sign, for that matter), but he won the last 4 Colorado 5A state championship games, and that's got to count for something.
Make sure and check out Rox Girl's post on the Rockies' Day 2 draft picks and stay tuned for coverage of Day 3 later today on Purple Row.
JDLR Injury Watch
Perhaps the best news of the day was the fact that Jorge De La Rosa had a pain-free bullpen session. Ultimately though it's looking like JDLR won't be in action for Colorado until after the All-Star break. My guess is that it will be more like August before he returns.
Other News and Links
Troy Renck has a mailbag up, discussing issues on both the hitting and pitching side.
Marc Hulet of Fangraphs revisits his preseason top 10 prospect lists in the NL West. Hulet notes that no top Rockies prospects have taken a major step back and says that six of the ten are trending upward.
Beyond the Boxscore has players 10 through 6 on their best 50 players of the next five years series up. Troy Tulowitzki comes in at number 7, giving the Rockies five players on the list. Ubaldo Jimenez didn't make the cut, which is somewhat understandable given that BtB didn't use 2010 data in determining the study. For my money though, he's the pitcher in MLB that I'd most want for the next five years.
Finally, the Rockies are 14th in CBS' power rankings. The comments on Colorado and several other teams are pretty funny.