This is about the time in a Rockies losing campaign when it's time to write about things that may only interest me. Despite their oft-chronicled offensive struggles on the road, the 2014 Rockies have actually been the most productive offensive team in franchise history. At least, that's what park-adjusted offensive stats like OPS+ (110, sans pitchers) say.
In the past I've written about the importance of scoring at least four runs for Colorado's chances to win. It's generally a good demarcation line of success in W-L record - Colorado is 41-26 this year at 4+ runs and just 8-50 when it fails to reach that mark (though interestingly they're 0-10 when they score exactly 4 runs, as they did last night). Instead though, it's time to set my sights higher...the cheap Taco Bell taco mark of seven runs in a game.
Though it might seem inescapable now, what with the mentions promotion seemingly every. single. time. the Rockies score a run, there was once a time before those cheap tacos. The earliest mention I recall of cheap tacos was during the 2007 World Series, because Jacoby Ellsbury became Taco Bellsbury for a time when his stolen base gave America four tacos for a dollar.
Beginning in 2008, the promotion was an every game deal for the Rockies - and unfortunately for my digestive system, I was a poor college student for which a few orders of the 4/1 tacos were an oft-consumed afternoon snack. Taco Bell has since made the promotion less attractive to me (first requiring the purchase of a drink, then making it a 4/2 deal), but the point is that the promotion is now ubiquitous to Rockies fans.
Yesterday's taco allowance to Kansas City got me thinking - the stats show that the Rockies are having an extreme year for both offense and pitching. Are these Rockies earning or allowing tacos at a higher rate than their forebears? My research below will show that it was a good thing that Taco Bell decided to wait until after the humidor to unveil this particular promotion.
I looked back at every year in franchise history and determined how many times in each year the Rockies scored seven or more runs (Tacos Gained) and how many times the opposition scored seven or more (Tacos Lost). I also noted the record in taco games, as well as each team's OPS+ (sans pitchers), ERA+, and overall record each year for historical context. I can't stress enough that very little of this is important and that this may only interest me.
Here's the official taco history of the Rockies:
|Year||Tacos Gained||Tacos Lost||Net Tacos||Gained W-L||Lost W-L||Year OPS+||Year ERA+||Overall Record|
That's a lot to take in, but here were some of the things I found interesting about the table above:
- With the exception of last year, the Net Tacos column was an accurate indicator of whether the team was above or below .500. I'm flabbergasted as to how the Rockies weren't more successful in 2000 (+14 Net Tacos) or how they managed to win 72 games in 2001 (-22 Net Tacos).
- Pre-Humidor (1993-2002), which included two strike-shortened years, the average Tacos Gained games was 51 and the average Tacos Lost games was 54. During that period the Rockies on average won 81% of Tacos Gained games and lost 75% of Tacos Lost games.
- Post-Humidor (2003-Present), the average Tacos Gained games was 42 and the average Tacos Lost games was 46. During that period the Rockies on average have won 83% of Tacos Gained games and lost 85% of Tacos Lost games.
- On a rate basis, the Rockies were most effective in Tacos Gained games in 2009, when they won 93% of such contests. Meanwhile, this year's 4-32 record in Tacos Lost games rates only fourth-worst in team history. The low water mark in that area was the 2008 team's astounding 1-47 record in those games. The lone win? That incredible 18-17 4th of July barnburner against the Marlins.
- Incredibly, in 1999 the Rockies and their opponents had Tacos in 40% of opportunities to do so (130 times out of 324). As a comparison, this year's Rockies and their opponents have only accomplished this 28% of the time (78/250). Since the promotion is mentioned in pretty much 100% of Rockies games, that's still a win for Taco Bell.
We are witnessing a team of extremes this year. According to OPS+ and ERA+, this is simultaneously the best hitting and worst pitching team in team history. However, the relatively depressed 2014 run scoring environment across MLB has led to a relative dearth of Tacos Earned. It would have been a really crazy year if you transported this team's hitting and pitching back to 1999.
Sorry, I don't have anything deeper than that today. Thanks 2014 Rockies for being bad enough to reduce me to writing about cheap tacos during August!