The 2020 MLB season featured a plethora of rule changes, some implemented before the pandemic came into play, and some after. In an interview with the AP yesterday, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said he was a fan of some of these rules, specifically the larger playoffs and the runner on second base to start extra innings. Unfortunately, it seems like these rules didn’t treat the Rockies all that well. In addition to the aforementioned two, there was the universal DH, the three batter minimum for pitchers, and the 7-inning games for doubleheaders. Let’s take a look at how all these changes impacted the Rockies in 2020.
There’s not a whole lot for me to break down for this one. The Rockies didn’t make the playoffs and that’s bad. You already know that and you also know that watching October baseball from home is significantly worse when you have twice as many teams playing in those games. Nolan put it best towards the end of the year: “If we don’t make the playoffs, that’s not a very good sign.”
Runner on 2nd Base to start Extra Innings
This one is a little trickier to break down since we’ll never be able to know what would have happened in extra inning games for the Rockies without the extra inning. The sample size was also pretty small, as the Rockies played only three games that went to extra innings in 2020. They won one while dropping two for an unimpressive .333 winning percentage. Regardless, it’s hard to draw any real conclusions from this one so I’ll just throw in my unsolicited opinion. I, like Manfred, am a fan of this rule and wouldn’t mind seeing it implemented permanently going forward.
The Universal DH
In 2019 Rockies pitchers combined to hit for a .140 batting average and a .180 OBP. Take out Germán Márquez, who accounted for all of the doubles (4) and triples (1) for the staff, and the stat line is even worse. While that bar is extremely low and the Rockies DHs did perform better this year, it wasn’t a huge step forward by any means. All of the designated hitters rolled out by the Rockies this year combined to hit .212 with an OBP of .283. Improvement? Sure, but not by much. According to Baseball Reference’s Wins Above Average by position, the Rockies designated hitters were worth -0.6 wins. This gave them the 20th best ranking in the majors and 11th in the National League. If it helps to soften the blow at all, only eight teams across all of MLB actually managed a positive Wins Above Average here. Either way, the Rockies didn’t get the production from the DH position that they would have hoped for going into the season. Next up, the three batter minimum.
The Three Batter Minimum
Now we’ve come to one of the rules that was put into place before the pandemic took hold of the 2020 season. In the hope of speeding up games and reducing pitching changes, the league decided to make pitchers face a minimum of three batters before being taken out.
Once again, we have a rule change that is relatively tricky to evaluate due to its “what-if” nature. Regardless, our poll from yesterday about the Rockies biggest need this offseason suggests that the bullpen needs some serious help. If you think the new rule hurt the Rockies, I sure hope you’re right because the 6.77 ERA this team’s bullpen put up was unsightly and good for 29th worst in baseball. If you think the new rule helped the Rockies, well...yikes. Watch out Phillies, we’re coming for your 7.06 bullpen ERA!
Again, there’s no real method to the madness here so I’ll keep it short and sweet. The Rockies only had one doubleheader all year, against the Diamondbacks, but they lost both games by a combined score of 15-5. Safe to say the 7-inning rule is no good and should be permanently abolished, right?
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There were five categories that Bleacher Report developed for this ranking: Not a chance, financial limitations, not quite contenders, dark horses, and the top ten. I pretty safely (and correctly) assumed the Rockies wouldn’t make the top 10 on this list but as far as I’m concerned, their worthiness of the other four groups is pretty equal. Dark horse was probably the biggest stretch, but for a guy who has said he wants to only sign one-year contracts for the rest of his career, as Bauer has, why not give it a shot at a high altitude to prove your worth? Well, the Rockies were lucky enough to end up in the “not a chance” group, because apparently we can’t have nice things. Trevor Bauer might just have to sign with the Rockies to spite Bleacher Report. Seems like a great idea to me.
Game 1 of this year’s World Series saw the lowest TV viewing audience of any World Series game. An average of 9,195,000 viewers tuned in for the Dodgers 8-3 win, underperforming the previous low of 9,836,000 set by the same Rays during their only other World Series appearance in 2008. While it’s possible that these numbers are a reflection on baseball’s popularity, or the Rays for the matter, there is a presidential election 12 days away (14 from the day of Game 1) amidst a pandemic that continues to grip the world so it’s quite possible people just aren’t that focused on baseball. If you’re reading this, you’re probably not one of those people.
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