It's been about 30 days since the Colorado Rockies won a game (close enough), and there's been plenty of digital ink spilled trying to explain why. Here we look at pure, unadulterated raw numbers from fangraphs.
RIRF covered the Rockies' issues hitting on the road well enough before this stretch started, but subsequently, fan blame has been heavily directed at pitchers. Is that justified?
At a high level, no. The team xFIP over the past 30 days has been 4.30. Bad, but not bad enough to be 7-19. The team wRC+, though, has been a whopping 84. Put that WITH the pitching, and we have a very, very bad team.
Put another way, we've had replacement-level pitching, above replacement-level defense, and below replacement-level offense (per fangraphs WAR).
Let's look at some individuals. These are the four players with a wRC+ over 76 in the last month (min 20 PA):
While Drew Stubbs sacrifices goats to the BABIP gods and Dickerson mysteriously continues not to assume what has been the Cargo role in the lineup the past few years, Tulo and Cuddyer continue to be professionals and play to their respective abilities. Unfortunately, they are in small company:
This is a very lousy collection of 393 plate appearances; more than enough to counter the 277 better ones above. Blackmon and Rosario have saved their wRC+ numbers pretty much solely with home runs; there's not an OBP of .300 in this group. And only Morneau and Blackmon can significantly blame BABIP.
Blackmon, it should be noted, is no better than our fourth-best outfielder since April, with Cargo being behind him.
LeMahieu and Arenado are the only significant players not on these two lists, nondescriptly combining for an OBP of .301 and a wRC+ of 73 over 130 PAs.
Now let's look at starting pitching:
|Jorge de la Rosa||28.1||.192||2.86||4.77||4.00||0.2|
We all knew Chacin was outpitching DLR, right? Ok, this group hasn't been good, but there is at most one Manship here. What we're missing, which we had last year (wait, last year was good?) are the plus performances of Jhoulys de la Chatwood.
It is discouraging to see that supposedly "lucky" things like BABIP really aren't against us. At all. At the same time, the team has played better-than-this ball for years with similar overall rotation performance.
Now, that bullpen...
Why does xFIP always love the pitchers with the worst actual results? Oh, right, it thinks BABIP is random.
This list does seem to show a bullpen that is lousier than the rotation, and not particularly unlucky. The pen has a negative WAR on the season now, with only Kahnle and Belisle joining Ottavino above zero. Poor usage has not helped. This after an offseason where we spent a lot on the pen...
When I look at all of this, I see the rotation as the least of our long-term worries (and folks, the short-term doesn't matter anymore). We have three decent starters on the DL and Chacin is our best pitcher in the long run. The pen is a mess, though, and we need to be figuring out who gets to stay next year.
The offense is the real concern. The Coors Effect is killing us on the road and we continue not to solve it. The new aggressive approach has resulted in the third-worst walk rate in MLB, and the corresponding low strikeout rate from April has disappeared. Cycling through hitting coaches with different philosophies is not creating sustainable solutions. Until this team figures out a way past this issue, the best we can hope for is more fun quarter-seasons.