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3 ways to feel about the Rockies’ run differential

How you choose to feel will shape your fandom over the next six weeks

Are the 2018 Rockies good?

The answer to that question isn’t necessarily straightfoward, and how it’s answered may depend on which column in the standings holds the most significance. Looking at wins and losses, the answer is clear. The 2018 Rockies are good. They are 64-56 after 120 games and are 1.5 games out of first place in the National League West. The answer is different, however, when looking at run differential. The Rockies are an exception among the teams with good records, which we can define as at least five games above .500, because they have a negative run-differential. It’s not just negative though. It’s flat out bad: -24.

The Rockies have a good record and a bad run differential, and that muddies any attempt to answer whether or not the team is even good. But let’s take a different tack here and focus less on the team and more on you (yes, you). Given this contradictory state, how should you feel about the Rockies? It depends on what you need or want from your favorite baseball team.

The disappointment defense

If you’re major concern is steeling yourself against any possible disappointment, pay attention to the difference between run differential and record a lot. The best way to go about this is to remind yourself about what run differential indicates: It’s a better reflection of a team’s overall talent than pure wins and losses. If a team has a good record and a bad run differential, as the Rockies do, then reason suggests that their record over the next 42 games will be worse overall than in the first 120. Conversely, if a team has a good run differential but a bad record, then the opposite is more likely to be the case.

Consider this option pre-emptive self-care. If the Rockies miss the postseason, you can warm yourself by that poor run differential and say that it was fated all along for things to turn out for the worse. There’s nothing at all to be disappointed about. Similarly, if the Rockies do end up making the postseason, there’s obviously no need to be disappointed at all. In that case, this option has the added narrative bonus of overcoming odds. But then, for consistency’s sake, this option leaves you going into the postseason expecting the Rockies to lose because they are, after all, not good.

Caution skepticism

If you want to be realistic about things and follow the remainder of the regular season with cautious optimism, you should care a little bit about run differential. The first step here is to remember the fact that run differential clarifies a little bit of what has happened and makes some suggestions about what will happen. It does not, however, determine anything. The determining factor for the postseason is win-loss record, and possibly some elaborate tie-breaker scenarios.

For the cautiously optimistic folks, it’s also useful to remember that the Rockies’ current run differential, like their record, can look quite different by the end of the season. In 2007, the Rockies’ had a run differential of +39 after 120 games. After game 163, it was +102. Granted, it took a historically good stretch of play for the Rockies to create that 63 run improvement, but in 2018 they only need to finish about half as good to wrap up with a run differential in the green. Even if the Dodgers’ and Diamondbacks’ run differentials are likely out of reach for the Rockies, their win-loss records are not.

Don’t harsh my buzz

If your primary concern is to maintain that high of seeing the Rockies 1.5 games out of first place in the NL West on August 16, then don’t pay attention to run differential at all. After all, the regular season is about the destination, not the journey. And even if you can’t unsee the team’s current run differential because you foolishly clicked on and read this article, that doesn’t mean you have to care about it. Repeat to yourself that the only thing that matters right now is the Rockies’ win-loss record, the next game, the game after that, and the game after that.

As opposed to disappointment defense option, this one has a real chance to be a downer. “Don’t harsh my buzz by telling me about the Rockies’ run differential” can easily end up being “wow I wish someone harshed my buzz earlier because the Rockies’ bad baseball and third place finish was a way worse buzz harsher.” Part of that comes with the territory of fandom, and it’s a deal all of us make to some extent, but this option goes all in on it.

★ ★ ★

There are two unavoidable facts to reconcile here. The first is that the Rockies’ record is good. There’s no disputing that. The second is that the Rockies’ run differential is bad. There’s no disputing that either. But there’s no prescription about what you, the Rockies fan, should do about those facts or how to feel about them. Whichever you choose, it will play some role in how you follow the team for the rest of the season.

Where do you land?


Which option will you choose?

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    The disappointment defense
    (36 votes)
  • 54%
    Cautious optimism
    (146 votes)
  • 24%
    Don’t harsh my buzz
    (65 votes)
  • 8%
    Something else (show your work!)
    (23 votes)
270 votes total Vote Now