clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Sunday Rockpile: Vintage Coors Field returns in 2012, Rockies need to adjust

See the ball, smash the ball at Coors, leave the Whitey-ball for the road.
See the ball, smash the ball at Coors, leave the Whitey-ball for the road.

Jim Tracy and Clint Hurdle both say the game of baseball is going back to the fundamentals of the low scoring 80's era. In Tracy's case, the assessment seems to be wishful thinking, particularly at Coors Field, where the 2012 park factors indicate the run scoring environment is about as high as it's ever been, let alone in the humidor era. According to Baseball-Reference, the 127 and 128 batting and pitching factors respectively are the highest since 2000. The Rockies scored 968 runs that season, with nearly two-thirds of those coming at home.

Simply put, Tracy and the Rockies are going to have to expect slugfests at Coors in 2012, with the narrow 3-2 victories he seems to be looking for unreasonable and rare. Given the wide disparity between the way baseball is being played at Coors this year versus the way it's played anywhere else, the Rockies are essentially playing two separate sports and need to adjust for that. Tracy's game manufacturing runs by giving away outs may work on the road, but that three run homer will be what rules the day at Coors. With park factors this high, double digit runs should be the aim for this team while at home, which means outs should be at a higher premium and bunts close to forbidden, even for pitchers.

Big leads by the opposition shouldn't be seen as insurmountable, which kind of makes the seeming quit in the past two days' games all the more disappointing. In short, it's just a really bad sign about the quality of the team's offense to score only three runs in this series thus far. The key difference between now and the pre-humidor era was that the park's unique environment turned into a larger than typical home field advantage. The Rockies need to know their own crib if they want that aspect to return.


Having said that, the latest news on Jorge De La Rosa and Drew Pomeranz points again to 2012 being an organizational rebuilding year, rather than one where they try to force a competitive team out of what they have before it's ready. Showing patience with JDLR in his recovery and with Pomeranz in his development still indicate expectations will be higher for the team in 2013 than they are this year.

Despite his protestations otherwise, yesterday's struggle by Christian Friedrich may really have been as much about the park as about the pitcher. The rookie will need to learn how to maximize his effectiveness at Coors Field if it's going to play like this. This part of the growth process will be painful to follow with all of the team's young starters, and is something I overlooked at the beginning of the season, thinking the humidor magic would return this year rather than erode. In the meantime, however, Friedrich remains very much an intriguing bright spot for the team despite the results of yesterday's start.

Fan reaction to the team of late hasn't been kind for some reason.

Troy Renck writes about Troy Tulowitzki needing to play within his limitations and realize that he's mortal like the rest of us, just very very good at baseball.