In this offseason, the Rockies have not spent much time on boosting their offensive lineup. When we look at moves that teams like the Brewers and the Giants have made to strengthen their offense, it seems like the Rockies might have a harder time reaching the postseason. The Rockies are leaning pretty heavily on their young stars to help the team offensively. It raises the question of what the batting order will look like next year. While we know that we have some heavy hitters at the start of the order from last year, it needs to be more comprehensive if the Rockies hope to be successful.
There has already been some speculation about moving Charlie Blackmon out of the leadoff spot, and Kevin Henry speculates about some potential moves the team might make. First, he suggests moving Blackmon down to the third spot, and putting Nolan Arenado next to bat cleanup. He has Tapia batting first, which is an interesting concept. Tapia would be an old-school leadoff hitter due to his speed and ability to make contact, so he might be a good fit there. Any way the lineup gets rearranged, or not, we need to see some more production from the depths of the order. If Trevor Story can reproduce some of the power we saw in his first season, that would be a huge boon. We also need our young stars to deliver, regardless of any changes to order. I’ll be anxious to see what is decided on Opening Day.
The role of the pinch-hitter is usually reserved for older, more seasoned players, yet 25-year-old Pat Valaika offered his own unique take on the position. Valaika was one of the better bats of the bench in the league and offered more than just his offense. Not only was he able to hit, but he also provided valuable backup in the infield. His position of choice is shortstop, and he was always available to step in for Trevor Story. Valaika is ready for whatever Bud Black asks of him and is up for the challenge. He had an incredible rookie season, and things are looking good that he can deliver in the new season as well.
There have been a couple rumors flying around lately about some discontent between players and the business side of things. Many of us fans are excited for the new season to start, but there are some hard feelings in the league. With so many players left unsigned, things are getting tense, and it is a battle of the words. Adam Ottavino states that things are still up in the air, but most players are keeping a close eye on things. One main issue was the statement by Tony Clark that teams are intentionally doing poorly, calling into question the integrity of the sport. This is hard for players, many of whom put their heart and soul into the game. The MLB representatives have tried to calm the waters, qualifying statements, assuring that everyone wants to do what they can to win. Hopefully, as spring training begins, this negativity will abate as well get back into the swing of things.
For the past 14 years, the American League has, on average, won more games than the National League. And while the designated hitter is largely an AL thing, the NL DHs had more hits than those in the AL. This is a pretty rare occurrence, only happening three times in the last 21 years. In the NL, there is a relatively small sample size, as there are not many who fit in the DH role. This is an interesting statistic from this year, though. Designated hitters are just that: players specially meant to step up and hit. But they struggled overall in the 2017 season. It’s difficult to pinpoint why this pattern occurred last year, but Jeff Sullivan argues that it is likely a statistical anomaly. Teams are not likely to put much effort into underperforming hitters. So the DH position will likely see a bounce back to the usual trend in 2018.