FanPost

Saturday Rockpile: Is There Any Reason for Hope?

Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE

Editor's Note: The following post is a part of the 2013 Purple Row Writer Search -- our quest to find some great new contributors to Purple Row.

This post will be about Jonathan Herrera.

Haha! I'm kidding of course. I considered writing something analytical, but it's late January: what more could possibly be said about Dexter Fowler's BABIP, Wilin Rosario's defense, or Troy Tulowitzki's health that hasn't already been written? The answer is absolutely nothing. Instead, this post will be about optimism.

First thing's first: let's all jump in our time machines. We're going back to a magical time, a beautiful, idyllic era when everyone-from national writers to Rockies fanboys to NL West rivals-agreed the Rockies were good. I'm referring, of course, to the 2010/2011 offseason, a mere two years ago.

The Rockies faceplanted at the end of 2010, losing 14 of their last 15 games. Despite this, they finished the campaign at 83 and 79; while missing the playoffs was a disappointment, they still fielded a strong team and were competitive into September. Per Baseball Reference, the three-headed monster of Tulo, Cargo and Ubaldo Jimenez combined for 19.6 WAR. The top four of the rotation, in Jimenez, Jhoulys Chacin, Jason Hammel, and Jorge De La Rosa (provided we re-signed him; more on that in a bit) looked very solid. The team was young, dynamic, and filled with promise; many analysts considered them a good bet to win the NL West in 2011.

Let's ride the time machine forward a little bit. April 30, 2011 seems like a nice stopping point. On this sunny Saturday in Denver, Jim Tracy's Colorado Rockies dropped a 4 to 1 victory on Clint Hurdle's Pittsburgh Pirates (who would have thought on that day that Clint's tenure would outlast Jim's...but I digress). After this game, the Rockies climbed to 17 and 8 with a 4.5 game lead on the NL West. A day earlier, Dave Cameron wrote this article for ESPN about how the Rockies were going to run away with the division. Everything was peaches and cream in Rockies land.

And then, well, it all went south. Before the ink was dry on Jorge De La Rosa's $30 million contract his elbow started twingeing. 10 starts into 2011, the "twinge" upgraded to "tear", and just like that he was gone for a year and a half. Ubaldo's fastball velocity went the way of the dodo, and after much sniping and skullduggery from both the player and the front office, he was traded away. Tulo and Cargo, while still good, weren't as good. Injuries and ineffectiveness plagued the rest of the roster. What was thought to be a rock solid foundation turned out to be a house of cards. The Rockies stumbled to a 73 win season, and then came 2012, and boy howdy, I really don't want to talk about 2012.

I promised earlier that this post was going to be about optimism. Don't worry, I'm getting there! The point of the previous three paragraphs was to show that when things change, they can change in a hurry. Less than two full seasons ago, we thought that Dan O'Dowd had built one of the best (and most sustainable) rosters in baseball. Now, um, not many people think that. But perhaps, just perhaps, from the ashes a phoenix will rise. Let's look at the crappy (sub-.500) teams after 2010:

Team

Record

Baltimore Orioles

66-96

Cleveland Indians

69-93

Kansas City Royals

67-95

LA Angels

80-82

Seattle Mariners

61-101

Florida Marlins

80-82

New York Mets

79-83

Washington Nationals

69-93

Milwaukee Brewers

77-85

Houston Astros

76-86

Chicago Cubs

75-87

Pittsburgh Pirates

57-105

LA Dodgers

80-82

Arizona Diamondbacks

65-97

How did they do after 2012?

Team

Record

Win Change

Baltimore Orioles

93-69

+27

Cleveland Indians

68-94

-1

Kansas City Royals

72-90

+5

LA Angels

89-73

+9

Seattle Mariners

75-87

+14

Florida (now Miami) Marlins

69-93

-11

New York Mets

74-88

-5

Washington Nationals

98-64

+29

Milwaukee Brewers

83-79

+6

Houston Astros

55-107

-21

Chicago Cubs

61-101

-14

Pittsburgh Pirates

79-83

+22

LA Dodgers

86-76

+6

Arizona Diamondbacks

81-81

+16

Five of these 14 teams went from under .500 to over it in these two years (the D-Backs plopped down right on the number). Two teams (Washington and Baltimore) went from punch lines to playoff teams. The average change in wins after these two years was +5.8, with considerable variation.

This is hardly a conclusive study. It's simply a look back, for perspective. Teams can look great on paper, then flame out spectacularly. Similarly, a team may look puny and weak, but rise up and conquer its former overlords, leaving everyone to wonder just where in the hell that came from. I'll go ahead and drop a link to another Dave Cameron article about how wide the variation between projection and reality can be. This article is a lot more fun than the last one!

In the end, the Rockies are living on a bell curve, just like every other team in Major League Baseball. We've spent the last few years living on the left tails of that curve, and it sure does suck. However, you never know when the winds will change, the ball bounces our way, and the boys have a good run of health; maybe in 2013 we'll swing over to the right tails of the luck curve. Do I think we are a great team as constructed? Not really. But you still have to play the games.

Eat. Drink. Be Merry. But the above FanPost does not necessarily reflect the attitudes, opinions, or views of Purple Row's staff (unless, of course, it's written by the staff [and even then, it still might not]).

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