Welcome to the 2019 edition of Ranking the Rockies, where we take a look back every player to log playing time for the Rockies in 2019. The purpose of this list is to provide a snapshot of the player in context. The “Ranking” is an organizing principle that’s drawn from Baseball Reference’s WAR (rWAR). It’s not something the staff debated. We’ll begin with the player with the lowest rWAR and end up with the player with the highest.
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No. 49, Wade Davis: -1.3 rWAR
The list of pitchers who have been chewed up and spit out by Coors Field is impressive. In recent memory, 2019 Kyle Freeland (a local), Tyler Chatwood, Jeremy Guthrie, and Mike Hampton are some of the talented pitchers who simply could not throw strikes at Coors Field. Even two of the GOATs, Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner—who are both intimately familiar with Coors—have had some of their worst career performances at altitude. Kershaw has a career 4.60 ERA at Coors, by far the highest of any park where he has pitched more than once, and MadBum’s WHIP is 40% higher than his career average. Coors is tough on pitchers.
But tough does not begin to describe the Dante-ish level of hell that Wade Davis experienced this season at 20th and Blake. His ERA at home in 2019 was 11.10. If we add up his ERA from the four seasons before he came to the Rockies, he would have a 6.11. Now, that’s not how ERA works, obviously, so a more optimistic person than me might retort, “ERA is meaningless for a relief pitcher!”
Fine. So let’s look at his WHIP, which was … *checks notes* … 2.014?!
I’m not a stat head, but I can’t imagine there’s an advanced metric in existence that can find a silver lining for a WHIP over two. For a good portion of the season, some may have been able to argue that this was just a Coors problem. He had good success on the road through the first several months. But by the time the last peanut shell fell, the road numbers told a similar story: 5.40 ERA, 1.691 WHIP, 14 walks in 18 innings pitched.
There really is no other way to spin it: Wade Davis’ 2019 was horrendous. Atrocious. Horrocious. His Coors numbers were historically bad, yes, but his road numbers do not reflect a capable bullpen pitcher, and certainly not a closer. What makes this especially painful is that Davis is the Rockies third highest paid player. He was the steady, four-pitch rock that was going to anchor an inconsistent group of big arms when he signed. It’s debatable whether that contract would have been wise even if he had been the horse the Rockies were expecting. He hasn’t been. What we’ve gotten instead is perhaps the worst reliever in baseball on one of the worst contracts in baseball and another year to gripe about it.