Rockies baseball 2018 is over sooner than we’d hoped, but before it gets too cold outside and the hot stove gets too warm inside, let’s take a moment to appreciate 10 of the most amazing things that happened in 2018.
1. Back-to-back postseason appearances — In 2018, the Rockies had their first-ever back-to-back postseason appearances. We were disappointed that the Rockies got swept in three games by the Brewers, but the 2018 Rockies were better than the 2017 Rockies, and that’s worth celebrating.
2. The starting rotation — Yes, it is possible to pitch at altitude. In 2018, Kyle Freeland (3.67 FIP) and German Márquez (3.40 FIP) led the way with Antonio Senzatela (4.17 FIP), Tyler Anderson (4.57 FIP), Jon Gray (4.08 FIP) and Chad Bettis (5.07 FIP) contributing. The Rockies became known for their pitching, and it was glorious, especially with Kyle Freeland having the lowest season ERA at Coors Field and Márquz getting over 200 strikeouts.
3. The GOAT: Nolan Arenado — Where to begin? This season saw Arenado leading the Rockies with a .935 OPS and in the hunt for an MVP award for most of the season. Even though Arenado struggled with a shoulder injury through August and fought through a slump, there was never any doubt that he was giving everything he had. His defensive miracles never cease to amaze, and he’s very likely going to win his sixth consecutive Gold Glove award. Here’s a recent example from Game 3 against the Brewers:
Every time Arenado makes a play like this one, we’re reminded of how lucky we are he’s a member of the Rockies.
4. The O-Zone — Seunghwan Oh (3.86 FIP), Scott Oberg 2.87 FIP), and Adam Ottavino (2.74 FIP) were the Rockies go-to relievers down the stretch. When these pitchers entered a game, we generally had confidence that things would be fine as they continued the work begun by the starting pitchers. The pitching renaissances of Oberg and Ottavino are especially notable. The O-Zone bridged the game to closer Wade Davis, who led the National League in saves with 43.
5. It’s (Trevor) Story time — If Trevor Story struggled offensively in 2017, in 2018, he found his swing. He had an OPS of .914, second only to Arenado, and hit 37 home runs, also second only to Arenado. Here’s the game we’re still talking about:
Story’s offensive production cooled off following an elbow injury, but in 2018, he earned MVP attention and helped lead the Rockies to the playoffs.
6. The return of David Dahl — After recovering from another freak injury (this time a broken foot), David Dahl returned to the Rockies with his much-needed bat. When the season ended, Dahl had an OPS of .859. He earned the October 1 Player of the Week Award after hitting six home runs in seven games. Dahl’s bat was key to the Rockies’ late-season run.
7. Carlos González, Matt Holliday, and Chris Iannetta bring experience — Carlos González was a late free-agent signing who helped the Rockies with his bat and his fielding. (I will never get tired of watching CarGo’s confident fielding.) Big Daddy Matt Holliday returned in August to provide experience and a much-needed right-hand bat. Chris Iannetta returned to his purple pinstripes to lead a young pitching rotation, and while his OPS was only .730, his confidence and patience at the plate made up for it.
8. Gerardo Parra’s success as a bench player — The end of the season saw Gerardo Parra assuming a bench role, and he was very good at it. In the Wild Card game against the Cubs, it was Parra who sparked the game-winning rally.
9. Resilience — The 2018 Rockies were resilient. Think of all the times the Rockies were written off — and yet they made the postseason. Bud Black said throughout the season that this team was tough, and he was right. Dan Lucero (@DanLuceroShow) has a nice Twitter thread highlighting all the times the Rockies were pronounced dead. Still, they won 91 games and made the playoffs.
10. Odds and ends — Here are some fun things that made 2018 special: Scott Oberg, German Márquez, and Tom Murphy welcomed new additions to their families; we met Eugene Koo; David Dahl’s golden retriever Rookie became a local celebrity; being a Kyle Freeland Guy, Gal, and Person became a meme; Charlie Blackmon played center field while talking to the announcers at the All Star game; Jenny Cavnar called two games during prime time — “Fire up the fountains! She gone!”; DJ Johnson made it to the majors and set new beard standards, and for a team with Chuck Nazty on it, that’s saying something; Noel Cuevas got everyone coffee one morning; Tony Wolters met some fans for coffee one morening, too; CarGo still has the sweetest swing in baseball; Ryan Spilborghs’ rally boots brought luck through another season; Tyler Anderson kept a notebook; Nolan Arenado led a bench-clearing brawl against the Padres and in the process exhibited his wonderful hair; Ian Desmond was the player most likely to be heaving the PowerAde after a walk-off; DJ LeMahieu quietly just did his thing; champagne flowed in the clubhouse not once but twice; Tony F. Wolters— need I say more?; and @Rockies remains the best social media account in sports.
Okay, we cheated a little found a lot more than 10 great things about the 2018 season. Bring on 2019.