Another New Year’s Eve, another chance to look back on the year that was 2018. For the Rockies and for Purple Row, 2018 was an excellent year. Back-to-back postseason appearances for the first time in franchise history, Kyle Freeland’s fourth place Cy Young Award finish, Nolan Arenado as an MVP finalist, and so much more made 2018 worth remembering for Rockies fans.
As in year’s past, we’ve asked everybody who wrote something for Purple Row if they would like to submit a few of their favorite things they’ve written this year. The editors have added stories to the list to further recognize good writing and further flesh out the story of the season. We’re putting the things we are most proud of in front of you again to recognize the hard work it takes to make Purple Row the go-to Rockies site on the internet.
For the record, I would contend that what makes Purple Row great is the day-in, day-out coverage of the Colorado Rockies, from Rockpiles and Pebble Reports to Game Threads and Recaps. It takes a lot of people to make all that happen, not least of which our unsung heroes, the moderators like Tommy McCall, Holly Paulsen, and Ryan Schoppe.
Ultimately, the site is nothing without the people who read it. No matter how you participate (reading or sharing, lurking or commenting), you drive us to do better. Once you make it through the list, please let us know what your favorite articles/moments from 2018 were.
Without further ado, here’s what made Purple Row great in 2018.
The Arizona Diamondbacks installed a humidor this season, which in part led to a precipitous downturn in their offensive production. Sam Bradfield argues why Chase Field and Coors Field have not played so different, even though only one park dominates the "Hitter's Park" headlines.
Hayden Kane looks like a genius for writing this back in January--even though he has no real recollection of writing it in the first place.
There are two things that have always marked Purple Row as unique: our contributors, and our decidedly fan-centered take. One of our new contributors in 2018, Nick Walsh, introduces himself with a fresh perspective on the fan experience, namely through the lens of Daniel Tiger.
The Rockies' bullpen is expensive. How does it compare to previous expensive bullpens? - Kyle Bishop | January 18
Another newer contributor, Kyle Bishop, unintentionally rang the alarm bells in January with this little nugget of wisdom: "The conventional wisdom is that a strong bullpen is amplified in the playoffs, with starters having shorter and shorter leashes as the stakes start to rise. But an expensive bullpen is not always a good one." You don't say.
One of the additions to the Purple Row staff this year was Hannah Auringer. She, Ben Kouchnerkavich, and Nick Walsh were tasked with putting together the daily Rockpiles throughout the season. As one of those formerly responsible for several Rockpiles a week, I can't tell you how much these three have stepped up the Rockpile coverage this season, something Hannah displayed early and often in 2018.
Baseball Hall of Fame results provide good and bad news for Larry Walker - Adam Peterson | January 25
Larry Walker received 34.1% of the vote in his eighth year on the Hall of Fame ballot. We'll see the results from his ninth year in a few weeks but suffice it to say, he's got a long way to go.
Another newer contributor this year was Renee Dechert. She became somewhat of an all-star for the site this year, which is why you'll see her name a lot in this list (even though she was only willing to submit three posts on her own behalf). In this pice, Renee lets loose on the essay on the Rockies in the 2018 Baseball Prospectus Annual.
On the eve of the regular season, most of our staff submitted what we would personally define as a successful season in 2018. Frankly, we pretty much nailed it.
Hayden goes a little more in depth on the 2018 preview, though it is through decidedly purple-colored glasses. Fun is the aim, here, and Hayden (rightly) saw a fun season in store for Rockies fans.
Football Friday rode off into the sunset this season, but in the meantime Connor provided some poignant meditations on fandom from a Rockies perspective. At the dawn of the 2018 season, he couldn't help but look back at the end of 2017.
The first week of the season dropped a big surprise as the Rockies announced Charlie Blackmon had been signed to a six year deal. The immediate reaction is here, the implications come from Hayden here.
The Rockies home opener is a beloved Denver tradition, but it's hard to get a full turn out when it's 25 degrees and snowing. It wasn't the coldest game in Coors Field history, but it was pretty darn close.
Did you know that Nolan Arenado was involved in a benches clearing brawl in 2018? Yes, that was this year and I'm just as surprised as you are. Renee gives a blow by blow (pun!) on the Rockies-Padres brawl, one of three from that third week of the season (no, they are not on the rise).
On April 23, Jenny Cavnar made history by becoming the first woman in over 20 years to do play-by-play for an MLB TV broadcast. Renee relives the moment, but takes the opportunity to take the MLB blackout rules to task. Jenny didn’t get another chance on the TV side this year, but hopefully she’ll get plenty more opportunities in 2019.
Ian Desmond did not have a good 2018 season, but it was downright pitiful in the early going, culminating in a chorus of boos in Coors Field. Jordan breaks down why that's so rare and what it meant for Desmond (which, ultimately, was nothing since the fans still saw him run out as an everyday player).
2018 was Kyle Freeland's coming out party, and it was evident as early as May. Jordan Freemyer got to catch up with the Denver native in the middle of a hot streak that ended up continuing more or less through the end of the year.
Another snapshot of the season through the Rockpile. Remember when the Rockies were in first place in May? Or when Nolan Arenado got into a fight with a bucket of Hi-Chew? Or when the offense was bad and looking for reinforcements? (Okay, that last part applied to most of the season, I’ll give you that).
Rockies pitcher Jon Gray is having the best and worst season of his career - Eric Garcia McKinley | May 28
Jon Gray probably won't look back on 2018 fondly. Eric points out how things weren't looking great around Memorial Day, but it's hard to believe it would only get stranger from there as the Opening Day starter would be sent down to Triple-A and eventually left off the playoff roster.
June was a rough stretch for the Rockies. Jordan Freemyer was in clubhouse after the team fell below .500 for the first time since they were 6-7. Far from being a gloomy, downtrodden clubhouse, the Rockies were realistically optimistic. Things did get a little worse before they got better, but Chris Iannetta sounds like Nostradamus in this interview: after this date the Rockies were an NL-best 59-39.
Rockies pitcher Bryan Shaw is suffering the toughest stretch of his career - Adam Peterson | June 12
Bryan Shaw was a bullpen piece I was actually excited to see on the team. That excitement quickly turned to dread as he and the rest of the super bullpen continually struggled. The thing is, it actually only got worse from here, leading to an extended DL stint and a complete removal from high leverage situations.
2018 was the year "Kyle Freeland Guy" entered the popular lexicon, though you won't hear Connor taking the partial credit he deserves for moving that along. (Okay, maybe you might).
After struggling so long, Ian Desmond seemed to turn a corner in June. Kyle Bishop breaks down what Ian was able to do but unfortunately June turned out to be the anomaly and not the trend for 2018.
Kyle Freeland's fan club wasn't enough to get him an All-Star nod. Rather than kick and scream about it, Hayden attempted to decipher the reasons why he was left off the roster. Though, his suggestion of booting Patrick Corbin in Kyle's favor didn't really age well.
The staff took a pulse of the 2018 first half before jumping into the second half, considering surprises to this point and expectations going forward. Call us cautiously optimistic.
The Dodgers acquiring Manny Machado wasn't really much of a surprise; after star shortstop Corey Seager went down and the Orioles started flirting with the all-time loses record it seemed almost inevitable. Doesn't mean we liked it.
That same Machado trade led to rumors that the Rockies should consider moving Nolan Arenado, since he enters free agency after 2019. Jordan Freemyer breaks down why that's an utterly preposterous idea, and it remains an utterly preposterous idea to this day.
In some ways Nolan Arenado had the most under-the-radar third-place-in-MVP-voting season possible, being somewhat overshadowed by the rest of the lackluster Rockies offense and the spectacular pitching. In July Renee provided one of our best pieces on Nolan from the season.
Sam has the particular pleasure of being a Rockies fan based in the greater-Phoenix area. That provided her with an unparalleled perspective on the emerging rivalry between the Diamondbacks and Rockies, made all the more potent from last year's Wild Card Game.
Renee takes a step back from Jon Gray and Ryan McMahon being sent to Triple-A to discuss how we talk about learning and what it means for how we should think about the trip from the majors to the minors.
The offense struggled all year, and the simple solution seemed to be giving their top prospects a chance to take over everyday duties. That didn't happen and occasional contributor oneforthreewithawalk did a comparative study between how the Rockies have treated their top prospects and how other teams in contending years handled their top prospects. This issue didn't go away but this was essential reading from this season and will be references for years to come.
Sam Bradfield, in addition to being a Rockies fan in enemy territory, teaches band in the Phoenix area. She took that expertise into the clubhouse to talk to various Rockies players about their experiences with music, offering a rare personal portrait of the players in purple pinstripes.
The Rockies didn't make any huge moves at the trade deadline (or the waiver deadline, for that matter), which led to some cantankerous feelings among Rockies fans. Renee dug into some old quotes from the Rockies brass to offer an alternative interpretation of the Rockies moves (or lack thereof).
It’s time to get excited about Matt Holliday’s return to the Rockies - Eric Garcia McKinley | August 20
This happened to be one of our most read articles of 2018. It seems the nostalgia of a former Rockies favorite joining the team in a playoff chase was too much to overcome for many of us. Fortunately, he more or less lived up to the hype.
Turns out: it was. And Kyle Freeland turned out to be the best story of 2018.
The funny thing about a baseball season it's length lends itself to a number of narratives. For a large portion of the season, Rockies fans were actively upset about what the team was doing because it seemed like a golden opportunity was slipping them by due to sub-par decision-making. Connor captured this feeling at a time when we needed to be reminded how good this season was.
Sometimes you need to do the necessary work of investigating whether or not something people keep saying in order to see if whether or not it is true. Spoiler alert: in this case, it wasn't.
Another one of our most read articles of 2018. I'm not one to blame the umpires, but this Friday night game felt especially egregious. With the benefit of hindsight (losing a Game 163 to the Dodgers) this game stands out as one that really hurt.
Colorado Rockies to play the most important series in franchise history - Adam Peterson | September 17
Ten days later the Rockies traveled to Chavez Ravine holding a half game lead in the division over the Dodgers. The stakes were high and, after looking at the history, you all declared that they'd never been higher for a regular season series in Rockies history. Considering the result of the series and the season, it's hard to argue it wasn't.
Rockies GM reveals troubling philosophy with young position players - Jordan Freemyer | September 21
Who knew that a national profile about an impending free agent second baseman would lead to a general manager drawing the ire of his fanbase? Jordan Freemyer broke down the words and actions that revealed what many Rockies fans had already believed, that the team disproportionately favors the veterans. It's a fantastic piece and one of my personal favorites from the site this year.
Said article led to general manager Jeff Bridich granting our own Sam Bradfield an interview to clarify his comments. Sam did an excellent job here, even though Bridich left many questions (figuratively) unanswered.
MLB Playoffs 2018: Every possible final week outcome for the Rockies - Hendrik Kits van Heyningen | September 24
With one week to play, the Rockies seemed to control their own destiny for the playoffs. Hendrik dug into the math to lay out the likelihood of every possible playoff outcome between the Rockies, Dodgers, and Cardinals. This was, understandably, one of our most read articles of the year, since Hendrik put in the work to update it regularly and following along everyday helped pass the time between games.
After 162 games, very little was decided in the NL playoff picture. The next day two tiebreaker games would be held and while each team was guaranteed to play at least one more game after that, the stakes were pretty high. Winners skip to the division series, losers face off in the Wild Card Game. The Rockies took care of business on the last day of the season and were plenty confident heading into Game 163. That it didn't work out for them is no mark against such confidence.
The Purple Row staff shared their team awards ballot and, surprise surprise, Kyle Freeland and Trevor Story walked away with a lot of fake hardware.
If we thought the 2017 Wild Card Game was stressful, I'm not sure we were prepared for the 13 inning marathon at Wrigley Field. There were a lot of heroes and highlights from that game, including Kyle Freeland and Tony F. Wolters. But Connor used Scott Oberg's excellent performance in the last two innings to highlight his breakout campaign.
MLB Playoffs 2018: Antonio Senzatela is becoming his best self on the mound - Ryan Freemyer | October 4
In previewing the NLDS, Ryan Freemyer found some interesting pitch usage trends from Antonio Senzatela that led to him earning the Game 1 starter nod. Senzatela didn't blow anyone away in Game 1, but he helped keep it close enough to allow the Rockies to force it into extras, and his pitch mix was a reason why.
The bright side of the last two seasons is that the Rockies made the playoffs both years. The down side is that their playoff fates seemed to go south based on a string of unlucky plays. The problem is that that downside is sort of baked into the the formula that is baseball.
Ted brought his exceptional writing talents to say farewell to a season and a core group of players that we won't be seeing play altogether again anytime soon. But Ted's encouragement is not to remember the "hard facts of autumn" but the joy of the summertime of the 2018 Rockies.
And what a summer it was. It's easy to forget how much fun the 2018 season because of the way it ended, but Renee made sure we looked back on what made 2018 such an excellent season to be a Rockies fan.
Rockies utility player Pat Valaika less of a factor as 2018 progressed - Ben Kouchnerkavich | October 9
Ben did a lot of heavy lifting this year covering Rockpiles on a weekly basis, but he broke from the routine to turn his eye on Pat Valaika's 2018 season. While it wasn't exactly one many will remember fondly, it gave us an inside look to the inspiring story of the Valaika family.
DJ Johnson turned a dominating season at Triple-A into an opportunity - Ben Kouchnerkavich | October 24
Ben also gave us a peek at the surprising, wonderful, unexpected season that was 29-year-old DJ Johnson.
Nick Walsh, another Rockpiler who did a phenomenal job this season, profiled the rise of no. 7 PuRP Garrett Hampson from Double-A to the majors and how Rockies fans have a lot to look forward to from the middle infielder come 2019.
Free agent Patrick Corbin could make the Rockies rotation even better - Ben Kouchnerkavich | November 3
Patrick Corbin turned out to be a little too expensive for the Rockies, signing a six-year, $140 million contract with the Nationals, but Ben got us excited to imagine what a Rockies rotation would do to the NL West with him on it.
Adam Ottavino had a marvelous season and, along with Scott Oberg, served as one of the more consistently reliable pieces in the bullpen equation. Nick gives you the numbers but, more importantly, the GIFs to make the case.
Ted has long been DJ LeMahieu's biggest cheerleader. But with DJ (in all likelihood) leaving the Rockies in free agency this offseason, Ted presents the case for DJ as the greatest second baseman in franchise history.
Since it hasn't come up yet in these articles, I'm going to go ahead and make sure you all remember how good and fun German Márquez was in 2018 by linking Connor's Ranking the Rockies article on him. Go watch some fun German videos, including him hitting a home run off Daniel Descalso.
You know who else was really good in 2018? Trevor Story. Hayden called it in January, and Eric proves it was true in November.
Sam Bradfield got to cover the Arizona Fall League up close this year and was able to talk with Rockies representatives Tyler Nevin, Josh Fuentes, Justin Lawrence, and Sam Hilliard about their experiences.
Todd Helton appears on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time this year. Time will tell how his campaign will compare to fellow Rockies legend Larry Walker, but Eric lays out the evidence for why he should get in, at least eventually.
There were collective sighs of relief when the news hit that Paul Goldschmidt was traded by the Diamondbacks. But I believe getting him out of the division actually makes the Rockies path to the postseason that much more difficult.
It's mostly a nuts-and-bolts article about the impact of adding Daniel Murphy to the roster. But in an otherwise quiet Rockies offseason, it counts as a big move worth remembering.
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It was a good season with a lot of good writing, so I hope you’ll forgive me for bringing us from 44 articles last year to 60 this year (I promise to cap it at something lower next year). We hope you enjoyed being a part of the Purple Row community in 2018 and we look forward to delivering an even better 2019. Happy New Year!