Fun with small samples: The Rockies are hitting the snot out of the ball

Doug Pensinger

Through 10 games the Rockies have been tattooing the baseball; will it keep up?

Maybe it's Coors Field. Maybe it's playing lousy teams. Maybe it's a vagary of small sample sizes. Maybe it's, y'know, good hitters. But whatever the reasons, through 10 games the Rockies have hit the absolute tarnation out of the baseball.

Okay, it's obviously all of those things listed above. The Rockies currently boast an .865 OPS as a team, which is absurd. That means the Rockies unit as a whole, which includes pitcher at bats, is hitting better than Robinson Cano's career OPS. The Rockies' .320 average is 33 points better than the nearest competitor; their on base percentage (.371) is 18 points better; their slugging percentage (.494) is 25 points better. And while Coors Field obviously inflates those numbers significantly, they aren't wholly smoke and mirrors; per wRC+, which adjusts for park effects, the Rockies' 123 still leads the pack by 5 points.

How are they achieving this? With a lineup that is suddenly much deeper than just Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki. The top five hitters in the batting order (when Justin Morneau starts, typically against righties) all boast on base percentages above .440. A pitcher has to navigate through Charlie Blackmon (.472), Michael Cuddyer (.444), Gonzalez (.450), Tulowitzki (.485), and Morneau (.457), each of whom have gotten on base nearly half the time. Even number eight hitter DJ LeMahieu has reached base at a respectable .364 clip. That's a lot of traffic the Rockies are creating.

It's true that Nolan Arenado and Wilin Rosario haven't joined the bonanza yet; Arenado's OPS sits at .654 and Rosario's is at .614. In a way that's almost encouraging; when the hitters listed in the preceding paragraph come down to earth (particularly Blackmon and Morneau), Arenado and Rosario might be in the midst of a rebound that offsets the pain. At the very least they are a constant threat to alter a game, as Arenado's two-homer game on April 5 demonstrates.

New additions Drew Stubbs and Brandon Barnes haven't had many at bats since Blackmon went thermonuclear, but they should contribute significantly when lefties start against the Rockies.

Yes indeed, the parade has been fun, thrilling, and enjoyed by all, with shriners, and floats, and baton-twirlers aplenty; but it's probably time for a little rain. Jose Fernandez and Nathan Eovaldi showed how it's quite possible to shut down the Rockies lineup when outside the confines of Coors Field. While in the friendly environs, the Rockies faced the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago White Sox, two teams that are weak on pitching.

Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post has come to pretty much the same conclusion, with some good quotes from Gonzalez too. Hitting the crap out of the ball and dominating at Coors are essentials for a Rockies team; carrying it over onto the road has been nearly impossible. This week's seven-game road trip out west will be a stiff test, and might shed some light on how much staying power this Rockies team has.

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