The Rockies are 40-48 heading into the All-Star break and have two players – Nolan Arenado and Carlos Gonzalez – representing the organization in San Diego. The “first half” of the season has featured some pretty big ups and downs, but overall there’s a lot to be happy about. Here are ten trends from the first 88 games of the season.
Editor’s note: Coming up on Wednesday, we’ll have a comprehensive review of the first half and a peek of what’s to come post-All-Star break.
Six Good Things
1 - Tyler Anderson
The Rockies rookie has looked better than expected, especially considering his injury history over the last few years. His once-lofty status as a first round pick in 2011 brings a good amount of expectations, and Anderson has stood up to that in his short major league career.
His 5.33 K/BB ratio currently leads the team and shows how much easier it is to succeed when you aren’t giving away extra bases. Anderson isn’t eligible for leaderboards due to a lack of innings, but his 5.33 would place him fourth in all of baseball behind Clayton Kershaw (16.11), Noah Syndergaard (7.11), and Josh Tomlin (6.18) and just ahead of Jose Fernandez (5.19). That’s some good company to be in.
2 - DJ LeMahieu
LeMahieu didn’t make the All-Star team, but he had an All-Star quality first half. His .334 batting average ranks third in the majors behind Jose Altuve (a second baseman) and Daniel Murphy (not the starting second baseman for the National League). (It’s odd that the three highest averages in the game are all second basemen, but I digress.) LeMahieu, like Story, didn’t make the All-Star team because of Cubs Fever, but Ben Zobrist was deserving as well.
3 - Trevor Story
The story is similar for Trevor: a less-deserving player is starting the All-Star game, bumping the deserving starter (Brandon Crawford) to the bench and Story off the team. He’s on pace to obliterate the rookie home run record of 28. Story has 21 at the All-Star break so barring anything drastic, he’ll likely be the new record-holder by season’s end.
Yes, Story strikes out a lot. That’s a problem that. The good news is that his K-rate has gone down every full month this season. Improvement!
4 - Carlos Gonzalez
What else can you say about this guy? After such a horrid start to 2015, his torrid second half set an uncertain tone coming into this season. Which CarGo will we get, the superstar or the slow starter? It’s pretty clear which one we got: Carlos Gonzalez the superstar is back.
We all know how well CarGo has done at this plate this year – .318/.367/.557 with 19 homers – but the big surprise has been on defense. CarGo looks like a high quality defender again, and the numbers back it up. His 4.6 UZR ranks him 15th among all outfielders, and his 7 defensive runs saved is seventh among major-league right fielders. Compared to early last year where it looked like he was struggling to break on balls, any net positive in that massive outfield is welcome.
5 - Adam Ottavino
Name one person who is upset that Ottavino is back in a Rockies uniform. Oh wait, I can: LITERALLY EVERY OTHER TEAM OUT THERE WHO HAS TO FACE HIM.
But really, I’m just happy that Ottavino is back on the mound. The deadliest slider in baseball is back to devastate opposing hitters, and I just can’t freaking wait for him to be back at full strength. Combine Ottavino with Carlos Estevez and some of the other young power arms that are coming up through the system, and the 2017 bullpen is shaping up very nicely.
6 - Ridding themselves of Jose Reyes
Not much else needs to be said, but I’m just glad he’s the Mets’ problem now.
Four Bad Things
1 - Team pitching staff
I’m going back to the trusted Morales Line for this one. Franklin Morales’ career ERA with the Rockies is 5.10. The Rockies pitching staff in the first half is 5.09. Franklin Morales’ strikeouts for Colorado: 214, good for a 6.6 K/9. The Rockies strikeout total: 251, good for a 7.8 K/9. Franklin Morales’ walk total: 151. Colorado Rockies walk total: 99.
Essentially, we’re performing slightly better than Morales did as a member of the Rockies. We’re below the line, albeit barely.
2 - Gerardo Parra
He’s been on the shelf for a while now, but he wasn’t very good when he was playing. Parra has always had a reputation for being a solid defensive player and, according to FanGraphs, has been relatively solid. The biggest problem was his plate discipline.
Want to hear a crazy number? Two – as in Parra has two more stolen bases (6) than walks (4) this year. The guy is up there swinging at anything just to make contact. There’s a time and place where putting the ball in play is needed, but weak ground balls only get you so far.
3 - Jake McGee
The good news from this trade is that German Marquez looks like a keeper and Corey Dickerson is struggling in Tampa Bay. Not that you ever want a guy to struggle like Dickerson is, but from a purely baseball standpoint that’s a plus in the Rockies’ column. However, McGee hasn’t looked like anything resembling the pitcher he was supposed to be coming over from Tampa.
Two years ago, McGee’s fastball averaged 96.3 mph; this year he’s around 93.5 mph. That’s a significant difference, especially when you really only have one pitch. McGee hasn’t looked great, but Marquez should make you forget about the whole thing in a few years.
4 - Haters
Stop reading if you liked the rest of this piece. It might ruin it.
For all the people who like to disparage the Rockies, Pokemon Go, or really anything for that matter, ask yourself this: does it really matter that much to you? Is it going to affect your life in any significant way if other people are enjoying it? No? Great, ignore it and let other people who find pleasure in it go about their business. There’s a difference between being constructively critical, like we try to do here at Purple Row, and yelling into a void about how something bothers you. Let other people have their fun.
Bringing it back to baseball and ending on a positive note, the Rockies have definitely not been the most successful team in major league history. There’s been a few years of tinkering and trying to figure out a way to win without a good philosophy and front office in place. We have that now. There’s a plan. There’s talent on it’s way and A LOT of it. There are some really exciting things happening right now on the team with Anderson, Story, Jon Gray, Carlos Estevez, Tony Wolters, and all of the young guys who will make appearances this year for the big league squad.
Positivity fosters success, so try and inject that into the Rockies. They might reward you for it.
I’m out: got to go catch ‘em all.