Following the Colorado Rockies' 2-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday, starting pitcher Jorge De La Rosa -- fresh off holding the opposition to two runs on six hits and a walk in eight innings -- summed it up best (via Nick Groke of The Denver Post):
"I'll just wait for my teammates to start hitting better and maybe win a game."
If De La Rosa is talking about run support from his offense away from Coors Field, well, he's going to be waiting for a while.
Colorado, after its two-hit performance at Dodger Stadium, again ranks dead last in Major League Baseball in road offense, managing a wRC+ of just 74 through 75 games. We know all about the Rockies' crazy splits, as Matt Gross so famously wrote about last year, and it's possible that wRC+ is a flawed metric due to an over-reliance on park factors that may or may not be completely accurate.
But it also doesn't take wRC+ to tell us just how bad the purple pinstripers have been away from their home park.
On-base percentage and K/BB ratio are big problems for the Rockies' offense on the road. They rank 30th in MLB in both categories, with OBP being the biggest glaring issue. Colorado gets on base at a putrid .277 clip on the road. The next-worst team, the Minnesota Twins, have a collective .289 OBP in away games.
Compare that to Coors Field, where the Rockies' OBP sits at .351, which ranks second in baseball behind only the Boston Red Sox. For those of you keeping score at home, that's a 74-point difference in OBP between home and road for the Rockies. That's ... massive.
Almost as big of a gap as the Rockies' OBP at home versus on the road is their BABIP split. Rockies hitters enjoy seeing their balls in play fall for hits at a .343 clip at home, but that BABIP luck takes a significant nosedive on the road, where the number sits at just .276. Earlier this season, we made the case that because of the unique challenges they face, the Rockies -- more so than any other team in baseball -- can't rely as much as they have on balls falling for hits in order to get runners on base.
I mentioned the team's league-worst K/BB ratio on the road above, but even at home, the Rockies rank just 21st in baseball in that category. Part of this is because the Rockies see more strikes (46.4 percent) than any other team in the National League. Opposing pitchers are being aggressive early and often, presumably because Colorado's pitching staff is getting the team in early holes. But the Rockies aren't making the most of out those opportunities; they swing and miss at more pitches than all but three teams and rank 25th in the league at making contact on pitches inside the zone.
A slightly impatient approach at the plate works well for some of the Rockies' hitters, Nolan Arenado for one. But the Rockies' inability to get runners on base on a consistent basis, regardless of where they're playing, is a team-wide problem without a quick solution. It's not like Walt Weiss or Blake Doyle or anyone else in the organization can simply tell players to start taking more walks and having more patient at-bats. Rather, the Rockies must begin to address the issue through drafting the right players and developing them properly, or bringing aboard free agents who possess the skills necessary to demonstrate an offensive approach that works regardless of venue.
As for De La Rosa, I'm not so sure he has a right to complain about lack of run support. Sure, the veteran left-hander owns a 3.26 ERA on the road this season and a 2.81 ERA overall since Aug. 1. But, let's not forget that in his career, he's 48-16 at Coors Field despite having an ERA over 4.00 there. And overall, the Rockies have scored six or more runs for De La Rosa on more occasions (81) than they've been held to two or fewer (67).
I bet Matt Cain (107 starts with two or fewer runs of support compared to 69 with six or more), among others, would kill for that kind of support.