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Sunday Rockpile: Why are the Rockies only playing six innings on offense?

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As he was coming up through the minors, I had one anonymous scouting source (he has to be to keep his job) that was particularly high on Jhoulys Chacin, that would always seem to be indicating that the ceiling for him was a lot higher than what we were reading from other sources. I've got to give a shout out to him, and hope he reads this for getting what others seemed to be missing and helping Purple Row do likewise. If you compartmentalize any of Chacin's pitches, it's hard to see how he could be so dominant, if you take the sum of the parts (adding in his sparkling fastball command), however, and see how masterful Chacin can be at putting them together, a different picture emerges. Chacin simply is a preternaturally talented pitcher, not merely a hurler with decent stuff.

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Jhoulys Chacin gives Rockies a potentially scary 1-2 punch (USA Today). 

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Having said that, I hate to go all Mark Kizsla and be negative after a great win (hopefully I can do it with a bit more common sense), but there's one aspect of the team that I and a couple of other readers have pointed out that simply isn't getting better yet, but needs to if we hope to compete this season. 

Thus far in 2010, the San Francisco Giants have already hit nine ninth inning home runs. The Dodgers only two, but prior to last night's game, they were batting .344 in that inning with ten doubles. The Rockies? Two doubles and a triple, the fewest extra base hits in the National League. Their .447 OPS is also not surprisingly the worst in the National League. Based on the results thus far, it's clear that the Rockies as a team give up some time before the ninth inning.

What about the eighth inning? The Rox fare a little better, eleventh best in OPS rather than sixteenth, but their sub-Mendoza average as a team still says to me that they're not quite realizing that there's still a job to be done in the that frame. Of Rockies non-pitchers, only Chris Iannetta had a lower OBP than the combined .268 that the team was putting up in the eighth inning, and that kind of performance earned CDI a trip to Colorado Springs. So we know that the Rockies give up before the eighth inning.

The seventh inning? Again, before last night's zero for three, they were hitting .180/.281/.280, only the Reds were worse. After last night's zero for three, they were hitting .175/.274/.272, taking last place from Cincinnati with some gusto.

In sum, in innings 7-9 they're hitting just .179/.256/.272, which is easily the worst in the majors. Just to catch up in batting average to second worst Atlanta, who are hitting only .210 in the last three innings, the Rockies would have to get 12 straight hits when they come to bat in the seventh inning today. To catch up to the Dodgers, who are hitting a league best .294, the Rockies better hope LA puts Charlie Haeger back in, as they would need 48 consecutive hits. The 7th-9th woes on offense aren't only confined to the hitters, either, as when the Rockies do somehow get on, they run into outs with the worst stolen base success rate in the league as well. The Rockies 21 runs scored in these innings are six fewer than second worst Cleveland, 35 fewer than the MLB leading Reds (given how the Reds hit in the seventh, I'm somewhat amazed at that).

So what's the deal with the late game lollygagging? Does the front office want to train Rockies fans to be more like Dodgers fans and leave during the seventh inning stretch? Does Jim Tracy have a moonlighting job at a convenience store he simply has to get to as soon as the game ends? Are the last three innings past the bedtime for Dexter Fowler and EY2? Or is the team just lacking leadership? Some of this problem is still simply BABIP bad luck, but it's bad enough on a team-wide basis a fifth of the season in to chalk it up to more than just randomness. Tracy and Don Baylor need to fix this, I imagine they'd want to knowing their jobs could depend on it.

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More links after the jump:

 

Ubaldomania is going national, as our ace is getting plenty of attention from the mainstream. Our own manager compared him to Hideo Nomo, Joe Torre compares him to Mario Soto in the LA Times. 

There's something about Jason Giambi and Miguel Olivo that keep them from getting on Jim Tracy's bad side, while there's clearly something about Seth Smith and Chris Iannetta that just irks the manager. While it's tempting to chalk this up to anti-blogger/sabrmetrics and he's just doing it to tick some of our Purple Row writers off, my guess is that Tracy must be a Men's Fitness subscriber and we're seeing some body bias at play.

Giambi and Olivo are chiseled gymrats while Iannetta's certainly not, and Smith's not to that degree. All four players are, in Tracy's words about Giambi,  "one good swing away from being the hottest, most dangerous hitter on the club," as we've seen them ignite the team when they get hot. Only Olivo started the season well, but has since gone stone cold. Iannetta's already in AAA, it seems Smith, despite a pair of hits last night, is soon to join him given the last footnote about Eric Young Jr.

Troy Renck talks about a few local high school products that have made it big in the bigs, the next may wind up being Centennial's Kevin Gausman, who Rivals had the Rockies picking in the first round in their mock draft earlier this week.