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Rockies Retro: One-Run Games

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Don Baylor's Rockies were the jam in one-run ballgames.
Don Baylor's Rockies were the jam in one-run ballgames.

If there's one song title that fits my situation right now, it would be Every Time I Die's "I Been Gone a Long Time." So, too, has the Rockies' ability to win one run games.  We can only hope that just as I have seen the light and made my return, so will the Rox when it comes to winning the close ones. But until then, let's go away from the norm of profiling players and examine the Rockies' team record in one run games since their inception.

1993: 26-20 (record in one-run games)

The Rockies' Pythagorean ("expected") record that year was a paltry 63-99, so their good performance in one run games was obviously beneficial, being that they actually won 67 games.  The team hit .279/.330/.434 in "late & close" situations, while holding opponents to a slightly lower .270/.345/.416.

1994: 19-14

Again, a good record but this time the expected record was identical to the actual record. It also may have been a bit fluky, as the late & close stats (Rockies - .258/.335/.402; Opponents: .273/.368/.426) weren't in the Rockies' favor.

1995: 19-19

Colorado's expected record was 72-72, which suggests the Rockies should thank their lucky stars that they were able to pull some close ones out and get to .500 in one-run contests and, even more significantly, into the playoffs with a 77-67 record. The Rockies' pen held opponents to a 240/.318/.355 line in late & close situations that year, which was a huge reason why they stayed even in close games.

1996: 23-16

Again, the Rox were very good in these games. And again, it had a positive effect on their record, as they won 83 games overall (compared to the 81 expected wins).

1997: 19-17

The above .500 performance helped the Rockies again, this time improving their expected record by a game (81 expected wins, 82 actual).

1998: 23-24

For the first time in franchise history, the Rox had a losing record in one-run games - directly correlating with their expected 78 wins (they actually had 77). Late & close: Rockies - .276/.348/.441; Opponents - .249/.323/.382 (how in the world did Colorado wind up with a losing record in these games?).

1999: 24-23

Nothing too special here either; the expected and actual records were the same.  They could have and probably should have been better, but the bullpen allowed opposing teams to rack up a 302/.387/.484 line in late and close situations. That has to be some kind of ridiculous.

2000: 23-20

What was strange about Y2K is that the Rockies finished five games worse than expected (82 wins instead of 87), despite once again being over .500 in one-run contests - completely bucking the trend we've seen up until this point. What's also strange is that unlike in past seasons, the Rockies were very good in blowouts (games decided by 5 or more runs) - finishing 34-25 in those meetings and outscoring the opponent by 102 runs.

2001: 18-28

The wheels fell off for the Rox in '01, finishing ten games under .500 in one-run games and, not coincidentally, 9 games under their expected record (82 expected wins, 73 actual). L & C: Rockies - .274/.350/.441; Opponents - .283/.362/.454. The difference in OPS was definitely a factor.

2002: 18-19

The team went from being better than their record in 2001 to being a bit worse than it the next season. The Rox finished three games ahead of their expected win total of 70.  It was also the first time in franchise history that Colorado finished with a sub-.500 record in one-run games in back-to-back seasons.

2003: 17-22

Colorado once again stunk in one-run games, making them four games worse than they actually were. The Rockies were a putrid .229/.322/.371 when it mattered most; opponents (.279/.347/.429) didn't suffer the same fate.

2004: 16-24

We're starting to see a trend here. The Rox finished with their worst record since their inaugural season, and were five games under their expected win total of 73 because of their shoddy performance in the close ones. The offense wasn't quite as bad (.252/.339/.419) in the "clutch" as they were in '03, but the pitchers (.286/.376/.490) definitely took it on the chin.

2005: 25-24

Todd and the Toddlers improved their record in one-run games, but the Rox still finished under their expected record by three games (70 expected, 67 actual), partly because they lost a lot of blowouts. The hitters really failed (.224/.293/.349) in late & close situations, otherwise the record would have been better.

2006: 19-25

In the season that started to turn the franchise around, the Rox struggled in one run games, particularly after a hot April in which they won 15 games. The club eventually finished 76-86, despite an 81-81 expected record. The late-game offensive stank that has plagued the club for the past five years (aside from that one magical half-season) was especially prevalent in '06 (.216/.288/.327).

2007: 19-19

In the season of all seasons, the Rockies finished one game under their expected win total of 91 (which would have been good enough to win the division), despite having a .500 record in one-run games. The club also changed things around by blowing out teams more than they got blown out. The team was markedly better in late & close situations offensively (.265/.357/.420) than in previous years, which cannot be ignored given the outcome of the season.

2008: 25-20

In a highly disappointing season, the Rox actually did a good job in one-run games. Their main problem (and the reason why the expected and actual records ended up the same) is that they got blown out entirely too much - 31 times to be exact. The late game fail (.245/.326/.367) came back to the club after a half-year hiatus as well, or else the 25 wins in tight games could have been even better.

2009: 0-8 (through 27 games)

The Rockies should be over .500 right now (with a 14-13 expected record), but late game failures have doomed them to this point. Though the players on offense should take some blame (based on the numbers we've seen over the past five seasons or so, including this year's .237/.323/.396), one should seriously wonder if (please don't accuse me of being a Post commenter) Clint Hurdle is a large part of the equation. Before he took over, the club was .500 or better in one-run games in 7 out of 9 seasons; since then, they're only 3-for-7 in that category.

That should give us all something to ponder, and maybe something for the Rockies' front office to ponder as well. Regardless of what happens, I just hope the ballclub gets it together and starts pulling some of these games out; obviously judging by the numbers, they're a much better club than their record suggests.