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The Rockies Projection Game

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Eight factors that may make or break the Rockies’ season.

Nothing gets us ready for the baseball season like spring training. We come out of the hibernation of the winter, well-soused from some New Year spirits, and all full of eagerness on how this year might just be the year that our team, in this case the Rockies, will perform.

Then we get a dose of computer spitout stuff projecting the Rockies will, um, not be that good. We think we have to reconcile our hopes with the idea that Steamer projects the Rockies at 78 wins. Alas, we shake our heads when even FanGraphs questions their own projections. All the while, we peek over the projections’ shoulders to see various national experts believe the Rockies will (or won’t) be the surprise team of 2017.

What’s a fan supposed to do? I know! Let’s have some fun and turn it into a game!

C’mon, just bear with me. Go grab a piece of paper, or for the tech-savvy of us, use Notepad++ or open up Word, and follow along.

We’ll start at 81 wins. There will be a series of eight questions with multiple choice answers. Write down the letters of your answers. After the questions are answered, wins will be added or subtracted to 81 based on the choices.

Feel free to post your responses and your final total below.

Oh, one other rule. It’s called the Cameron rule. NO PEEKING!

1. How many different pitchers will start a game for the Rockies?

A) Less than 7 B) 8 or 9 C) More than 10

2. How many at-bats will Gerardo Parra get?

A) Less than 300 B) 301-400 C) More than 400

3. How many at-bats will Raimel Tapia get?

A) Less than 300 B) 301-400 C) More than 400

4. How many at-bats does Alexi Amarista get?

A) Less than 200 B) 200-300 C) More than 300

5. How many Rockies will be in the All-Star Game?

A) 1 or 2 B) 3 C) More than 3

6. How many saves will Adam Ottavino get?

A) 0-10 B) 11-20 C) More than 20

7. How many positions will Ian Desmond play more than ten games at?

A) 1 or 2 B) 3 C) More than 3

8. How many Rockies players will win Gold Gloves?

A) Less than 2 B) 3 C) More than 4


Answers:

1. How many different pitchers will start a game for the Rockies?

A: +3

B: +1

C: -3

There isn’t that much difference if the Rockies use seven or nine starting pitchers. With roster rules allowing a 26th man on doubleheaders, it’s conceivable one of those is used for a spot start. Also, it’s quite likely at least one starter gets hurt and that another starter is ineffective. Nor did the world end when Chris Rusin started for a few games. Still, the games lost by those extra pitchers still count and if we assume the starting five are our best five, then using too many more of that is probably not good. Using a tenth starting pitcher is usually when people check their calendars for when the Broncos offseason begins.

2. How many at-bats will Gerardo Parra get?

A: +2

B: -1

C: -2

With David Dahl in left field, Carlos González in right and Ian Desmond at first base, Parra’s best chance for at-bats used to be beating out Jordan Patterson to become the backup outfielder/first baseman. Now he also has to compete with Mark Reynolds. He was also a defensive liability at each position no matter the fielding system or eye test used. Parra’s only remedy would be to replicate Charlie Blackmon’s 6-for-6 Opening Day performance in 2014 and parlay that into a starting gig. That being said, each at-bat Parra makes takes away from a superior player, even or perhaps especially if said player was injured, means the Rockies win projection decreases.

3. How many at-bats will Raimel Tapia get?

A: +2

B: 0

C: -3

Tapia, in many respects, is like Parra, except he’s better on both sides of the ball. Still, it’s hard to argue that Tapia right now is better than Dahl, Blackmon or González. So the plan should be for Tapia to spend some time at Albuquerque until a September callup. If Tapia racks up more than 400 at bats, that means multiple superior players were injured much earlier in the season, enough to find room for more than Tapia but also Parra. Another possibility for Tapia to end the year with more than 400 at bats would be that the Rockies had done so poorly that a 2017 trade deadline selloff of Carlos González and Charlie Blackmon opened up regular playing time for Tapia. In this case, less Tapia means the 2017 Rockies are better.

4. How many at-bats does Alexi Amarista get?

A: 0

B: -1

C: -4

Amarista is a competent defensive backup and impotent on offense. For him to get more than 200 at-bats would require multiple major injuries in the infield or severe mismanagement. On the bright side, perhaps a Coors Field bump lets him break his career high batting average of .257. Those in real deep fantasy baseball leagues should take a pass.

5. How many Rockies will be in the All-Star Game?

A: 0

B: 0

C: +2

Did you know that in 2007, those Rocktober ragamuffins had only two All-Stars, Brian Fuentes and Matt Holliday? Or that in 2009, the last time the Rockies went to the playoffs, they sent Brad Hawpe and Jason Marquis? Since 2013, the Rockies have had three All-Stars twice. None of those teams won more than 80 games, thanks to those post All-Star break nose dives. It is thus very possible that Arenado and two other Rockies make the All-Star team yet the Rockies as a team don’t do well. If they send four people, though, that most likely means that either someone on offense overcame Coors Field bias to get in, or a pitcher such as Gray, Anderson, Ottavino or Holland really stood out. That, my friends, is a good team; or, at least, a good first-half team.

6. How many saves will Adam Ottavino get?

A: +1

B: -2

C: +2

Adam Ottavino is a real good pitcher but peak Ottavino is not nearly as good as Peak Greg Holland. For Ottavino to get less than ten saves means that Holland showed enough in spring training to take the job or that Ottavino got injured. The A = +1 bakes in that injury potential. If Ottavino gets more than 20 saves, that means he won the job out of spring training and held on all year. The sabermetrician in me also would note that Ottavino doing well means Holland’s higher value arm is free to be brought in to games in high leverage situations. Between 10 to 20 saves, though, is the danger area. That would mean Ottavino got the job, then performed so poorly he lost it. The Rockies might be better after moving him out of the closer role but those lost games still count as we saw all too often last year.

7. How many positions will Ian Desmond play more than ten games at?

A: +2

B: +2

C: -1

I can see Desmond starting the season at first base then moving elsewhere if one early injury hits. I can see him being primarily a first baseman and filling in or days off in the outfield or infield. But if he got to playing four positions, then the Rockies depth would be tested to the point where the aforementioned Parra and Amarista are getting too much playing time.

8. How many Rockies players will win Gold Gloves?

A: 0

B: +1

C: +2

Arenado and LeMahieu have won Gold Gloves the last two years. The projection systems know that and still score the Rockies low. Over the last few years, individual Rockies players have added a lot of shinies to their mantles, but early reviews on Blackmon in center and González in right were not too good and the black holes in left field and catcher definitely torpedoed overall team defense. Last year, it seemed the metrics started looking more favorably on Blackmon and González’ defense. While Gold Gloves are no longer just a popularity contest and do have a sabermetric component involved, if the numbers and eye tests look favorably on Story, Blackmon, González or, given enough playing time Wolters, then that’s gravy.


Ok, tally up your numbers. If your score doesn’t fall between +15 and -15 then you added wrong.

Now, just to throw a wrench in things, if your number was positive, subtract one. +15 becomes +14. If your number was negative, add one. If your number was zero, do nothing. Basically, it’s a mechanism that says it’s pretty hard for everything to break right or wrong for a team. Call it the Bias Shift (B.S.).

Add that number to 81 and that’s your prediction! You should now have a number between 67 and 95. Share it with your friends, post it on Facebook, and comment on what you did below.

Thank you very much for playing!