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Rockies players and Manager Bud Black agree to shift less

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Rockies news and links for February 23, 2018

Rockies shifted less as Black solicited input |
The Colorado Rockies partook in extreme defensive shifts 684 less times in 2017 than they did in 2016. The Rockies were not alone, as 20 other MLB teams also shifted less compared to the season before. But the drop-off for the Rox was the most in baseball. For Manager Bud Black, the decision was made with the input of the team’s star defenders—third baseman Nolan Arenado, second baseman DJ LeMahieu, and shortstop Trevor Story. The players expressed knowledge of specific instances where not shifting would have led to an out.

The only postseason team from 2017 to increase their shift usage was the Los Angeles Dodgers. Rather than employing some type of a shift in seemingly all viable situations like them, the Rockies are being very specific in their utilization. According to Black, it’s a focus on “spray charts, inning, runners on base, leading off the inning with nobody on, two outs and nobody on,” and other data. But Black, among all other virtues, is focused on including everyone in the conversation—from the analytics department to the players to the coaching staff. Under Manager Walt Weiss, LeMahieu, Arenado, and former Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki all expressed frustrations over being thrown into situations of extreme shifting without preparation beforehand. It seemed that Weiss certainly bought into the idea of shifting, and it’s not that Black doesn’t. The biggest difference in effectiveness of shifting between the two appears to be the extent of communication with their defenders.

Rockies optimism abounds in Colorado, but outsiders aren’t so confident | Mile High Sports
The Rockies franchise is in a good place. Coming off a trip to the postseason in 2017, the expectation is that the team will be there once again in 2018. However, if you were to get all your baseball information exclusively from national writers, you might think the Rockies were just barely in the top half of teams in the sport. Mile High Sports’ Aniello Piro looks at the local optimism and national skepticism for the coming season.

Colorado Rockies: What should the bullpen look like on opening day? | Rox Pile
Six players appear to be definite locks to make the Rockies bullpen in 2018 – Wade Davis, Bryan Shaw, Jake McGee, Adam Ottavino, Mike Dunn, and Chris Rusin. After those six, there appears to be a battle among Scott Oberg, Antonio Senzatela, Carlos Estevez, Jeff Hoffman, Zac Rosscup, and Jairo Diaz for the final two bullpen slots. Noah Yingling of Rox Pile thinks Oberg and Senzatela will get the final two spots, Roster-Resource projects Oberg and Rosscup, and I think it will be Estevez and Senzatela. It will most definitely be a race to watch.

Colorado Rockies: New reliever Bryan Shaw’s cutter is one of the best | Rox Pile
Shaw was one of the biggest expenditures of the offseason for the Rockies, and he brings one of the best cutters in baseball to the bullpen. According to QOPA (Quality of Pitch Average), Shaw’s cutter ranks only behind Kenley Jansen’s for the best in baseball. Rox Pile’s Noah Yingling compiles quotes from Black and Terry Francona, Shaw’s former manager with the Cleveland Indians, who speak to just why the pitch is so effective.

Colorado Rockies: Will 2018 be a bounce back year for Ian Desmond? | Rox Pile
Rox Pile’s Olivia Greene discusses the possibility of 2018 being a bounce-back year for Ian Desmond. Greene takes a position that 2017 wasn’t as bad of a season for Desmond as many make it out to be. Regardless of how you perceived his 2017, it seems assured that Desmond will be better in 2018, simply based on progression to the mean.

MLB Team Banners and Slogans | AZ Snake Pit
AZ Snake Pit has put together a collection of banners and slogans for every MLB team. It appears that most teams are going away from creative designs for their banners. There’s also a check on each team’s hashtags, which was #RockiesEveryday for Denver’s baseball team last year. 2018 hashtags haven’t been released quite yet. What do you think would be best for the Rockies to use as their hashtag for the new season?

Spring Training

David Dahl is finally back in with the Rockies — with a lot to prove to manager Bud Black | The Denver Post ($)
David Dahl played right field on Friday, and is expected to play left field in Saturday’s game against the Cincinnati Reds. Dahl will be the beneficiary of more playing time this Spring as Gerardo Parra recovers from surgery on his right hand. Speaking of Parra, he is expected to shag fly balls on Saturday, with the hope of getting into game action by March 10.

Cactus League presents a big opportunity for Rockies righty Jeff Hoffman | Mile High Sports
Hoffman received the starting nod for the Rockies’ first day of Cactus League action on Friday. This certainly doesn’t mean Hoffman is a lock to make the Opening Day roster, but it does show that Spring Training will represent a big opportunity for him to showcase himself. Mile High Sports’ Casey Light looks back at Hoffman’s uneven 2017 season and what could be in store for him in 2018.

Spring training recap
The Rockies lost their first Spring Training game of the season on Friday, as they were bested by the Arizona Diamondbacks by a score of 7-6 in 10 innings. Hoffman started the game and pitched 2 scoreless innings, with no hits, two walks, and a strikeout. Ryan McMahon (PuRP No. 2) opened the scoring with a 2-out, 2-run single in the bottom of the 2nd and Raimel Tapia added on with a solo home run in the 3rd.

Ottavino pitched a perfect inning, and bullpen hopeful Estevez gave up one hit in a scoreless inning of work. A rough outing was had by Jesus Tinoco, who picked up a blown save after allowing three runs in 1 2/3 innings of work, all coming on a three-run home run by D-Backs non-roster invitee Michael Perez. After Brian Mundell (PuRP No. 13) hit an RBI single in the bottom of the 9th to tie things at 5-5, the Rox sent in Matt Pierpont, who gave up two runs on two hits, two walks, and a hit-by-pitch, ultimately taking the loss. A solo home run by Brendan Rodgers (PuRP No. 1) in the bottom of the 9th was not enough to save the game for the Rockies, as they are now 0-1 to open Cactus League play.

Story reached base in both of his plate appearances, with a double and a walk. Dahl went 0-for-2 in his return.