It’s time for the Rockies to hit the reset button. After starting the season 47-26 and competing tooth and nail with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks for first place in the National League West, the Rockies limped into the All-Star break having lost 13 of the final 18 games of the first half. But that’s over now. All-Star festivities in Miami have wrapped up, most of the team has gotten some well deserved and well needed days off, and it’s time for part two of the 2017 season. Here’s a glimpse at what’s to come.
The games and opponents
The Rockies played 91 games in the first half of 2017 for a record of 52-39 (.571 W%). The team has a run differential of plus 42, which amounts to a Pythagorean record of 50-41. For much of the season, FanGraphs’ BaseRuns estimate has disagreed with Baseball Prospectus’s third order win percentage; however, they are now agree that the Rockies have played like a 46-44 team. Both of these methods eliminate the sequencing of run differential and adjust the record to reflect how many runs the Rockies should have scored.
The Rockies played 47 road games in the first half and 44 home games. The team has a winning record at home and on the road so far. They are 26-21 on the road for a winning percentage of .553 and 26-18 at home for a winning percentage of .590. The favorable road split from earlier in the season disappeared as the season progressed.
The team will play 71 games in the second half—37 at home and 34 on the road. The Rockies can have a losing record on the road in the second half and still win around 40 road games. If they do that, they’ll need to rack up more home wins in order to stay competitive for a Wild Card spot.
The Rockies had a relatively easy schedule in the first half. They played 37 games against teams with a .500 winning percentage or better. In those games, they went 19-18, but with a run differential of negative 26. Conversely, the Rockies played 54 games against teams with a losing record. They went 33-21 in those games with a plus 68 run differential.
The Rockies strength of schedule in the second half is somewhat favorable. Their opponents’ collective winning percentage, as of now, is .495. For comparison, the Diamondbacks face a difficult second half. Their opponents’ win percentage sits at .507. The Dodgers, however, have it easier than both teams. Their opponents’ strength is .474. The Dodgers have the great benefit of not having to play the Dodgers.
The Rockies’ chances
The Rockies are well positioned for a postseason run, despite the rough end to the first half and pronounced weaknesses. This is a result of the Rockies getting off to such a fantastic start, as well as a weak field of competition. The Nationals are running away with the NL East, as they are the only team above .500 in the division. And nobody is running away with the NL Central. It’s quite possible that the division winner—either the Brewers, Cardinals, or Cubs—ends up with a worse record than both the Diamondbacks and Rockies.
According to FanGraphs, the Rockies have a 62.2 percent chance to make the playoffs. That figure, however, is calculated using pre-season projections. Using season-to-date stats, the Rockies’ playoff odds increase to 70.8 percent. Baseball Prospectus is even more optimistic. They estimate that the Rockies have a 76.4 chance of appearing in the postseason. As games begin tonight, the Rockies are a significant favorite to earn a Wild Card berth:
Mark your calendar
The Rockies will have some competitive series the rest of the way, with most of the division play confined to September. The team will have a tough road trip to end July, as they travel to St. Louis and then Washington for six games from July 24-30. It will be a classic “3-3 is a huge success” type of trip. The competitive Brewers come to Colorado for a weekend series from August 18-20. When those teams first met for the first three games of the season, we didn’t know that the next series in August would be a test between two competitive teams. But here we are.
The biggest Rockies games will be in September. The Rockies begin the month with three home games against the Diamond backs, September 1-3. Later in the month, they’ll have an eight game road trip where they play four games each against the Dodgers and then the Diamondbacks. That trip runs from September 7-14. Finally, the Rockies will wrap up the season at home against the Dodgers from September 29-October 1. In all likelihood, the Dodgers will have wrapped up the NL West by then, and the Rockies will be scoreboard watching the Diamondbacks’ games. They’ll be in Kansas City for the final weekend of the season.
The first half of the 2017 season is history. There were high highs and low lows. Now, it’s time to push toward the finish line. Let’s hope it continues deep into October.