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What ‘taco’s’ tells us about the Rockies offensive struggles

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And you thought it was just a meme

On Tuesday night, the Rockies reached the seven-run mark for the first time this season in an 8-2 victory in San Diego. The familiar refrain of “taco’s” echoed across Rockies Twitter for the first time in 2019, as fans celebrated the long-overdue milestone. It was, by more than double, the longest it had ever taken for Colorado to reach seven runs in a game to start a season. The previous record for futility was eight games. This season began with seventeen taco(‘s)-less outings.

Of course, this statistic is somewhat arbitrary. The Rockies scored exactly six runs five times in their first eleven games this season. If the Rockies Taco Special was awarded at six runs instead of seven, I wouldn’t be writing this article. However, it’s still a decent metric by which to measure the explosiveness of an offense.

Once the streak had pushed to more than a dozen games, I started to wonder how it stacked up against the longest taco-free stretches in franchise history (even those from before the actual promotion existed). What I found will only add more fuel to the fire for those who argue that the Rockies offense is fundamentally broken, and has been for some time.

Seventeen games is tied with streaks from 2006 and 2011 for the ninth-longest taco drought in team history. Of the top eleven, three of them have taken place since the start of the 2018 season. That’s not good! Let’s look at that list.

T-9: April 29-May 19, 2006 (17 games)

T-9: April 20-May 13, 2011 (17 games)

T-9: March 28-April 15, 2019 (17 games)

T-6: August 13-September 4, 2004 (18 games)

T-6: July 7-30, 2005 (18 games)

T-6: April 2-22, 2018 (18 games)

T-4: July 26-August 17, 1993 (19 games)

T-4: May 8-30, 2008 (19 games)

3: May 5-29, 2007 (21 games)

2: April 6-May 6, 2015 (23 games)

1: July 20-August 17, 2018 (24 games)

Not only are three of the top eleven streaks from the last seven months of baseball, but last season, in the middle of the summer, saw the longest taco drought in franchise history. It was one of just four streaks on the list to not take place in April or May. The other three teams to do that? The 94-loss 2004 team after they traded Larry Walker, the 95-loss 2005 Todd and the Toddlers team, and the 95-loss expansion team. Not exactly the company you want to be in. What’s worse, the 2018 team is the only squad to appear on this list twice.

It’s worth noting that there’s only one pre-humidor team on this list, so we’re really looking at 17 years of data here instead of a full 26. Even so, it’s quite alarming that the franchise’s second best record of 91-71 was achieved with an offense that went cold for longer than any other in team history.

After discovering this bit of information, I became very curious whether 2018 also saw the fewest total occurrences of “taco’s” of any Rockies season. The answer: no, but it was very close.

In 2018, the Rockies scored seven or more runs 36 times. This was tied with 2015 for the second-fewest in team history. The fewest? 35, in the rebuilding year of 2005. In 2017, when the offense was already facing criticism, “taco’s” was achieved 47 times. In 2016 that number was 50.

Before last year, the Rockies had previously never won more than 74 games in a season when getting taco’s fewer than 40 times. The 2018 Rockies were one game away from winning the NL West. Just think how much more they could have accomplished if they didn’t have the least explosive offense in team history.

2019 has seen the Rockies riddled with injuries, and their pitching was lit up throughout their first homestand. But the offense, which lost Carlos González and DJ LeMahieu while only adding Daniel Murphy, was largely unimproved from a unit that was quite weak last year. Personnel changes are the only thing that will prevent more taco droughts like the one we’ve already seen to start the season. The current group isn’t magically going to learn how to function as a cohesive unit. Perhaps McMahon and Dahl playing full seasons could be a sufficient spark, but if I’m Jeff Bridich I’m exploring ways to add a bat or two to my lineup so that Rockies Twitter can get back to posting their favorite grammatically incorrect meme with regularity.