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Early candidates for a bounce back 2021

Colorado Rockies news and links for Monday, December 21, 2020

2020 was tough. It’s a year that’s going to be remembered for all the wrong reasons. For the Rockies it was another frustrating year of underachieving baseball that was, at times, hard to watch. Not everyone played up to the level of expectation especially when owner Dick Monfort predicted the Rockies would win 94 games back in February.

Instead the team won 26 games in a shortened 60 game season, just good enough for fourth place in the NL West. Some players were hindered by injuries or just flat out weren’t as good as expected. Others like Kyle Freeland, Daniel Bard and Antonio Senzatela had an excellent bounce back year after difficult 2019 seasons.

2021 brings a new season (hopefully) and a new set of expectations for the Rockies. A fresh start, a full season and a COVID vaccine might just be exactly what the doctor ordered for some players.These are some early candidates for a bounce back 2021.

Nolan Arenado

This one’s easy to me. Arenado hits for a career .290 BA and near 40 home runs a year with elite defensive ability. In 2020, he suffered a shoulder injury early in the year that lingered and affected his play for the remainder of his season. This would explain the anomaly of a year he had. No matter what others may think, Arenado should still be considered an elite hitter. There hasn’t been enough strong evidence to prove otherwise.

Ryan McMahon

McMahon’s an interesting case. A year after hitting .250/.329/.450 with 24 home runs, he regressed and only slashed .215/.295/.419 while still hitting nine home runs in 2020 (a Rockies second best behind Trevor Story’s 11).

So his home run hitting ability remained but his ability to hit for average took a big dip. If he wants to become a more well rounded hitter he’ll have to cut down on his high 34.2% SO rate and get it somewhere back in the 20’s. His .286 BAbip suggests that if he does cut down on his strikeouts and makes more consistent contact he won’t have a problem raising his average from 2020’s .215 BA.

Jon Gray

Gray’s 2020 saw him produce his career worst 6.69 ERA, albeit he only pitched in only 39 innings before going on the injured list in early September. As our chief Samantha Bradfield pointed out in Gray’s player review, his pitch velocity was down two points in both his fastball and slider. Interestingly enough, he also showed this two point drop in velocity in 2018 before bringing it back up in his improved 2019 season (3.84 ERA). This means he’s capable of turning it around despite his year to year increase in WHIP.

Since he’s scheduled to become a free agent next offseason, he’ll have no trouble finding motivation to improve. The Rockies and other teams have to be concerned about paying a guy with his year-to-year inconsistency but he can put himself in a good position for a payday with a solid 2021 season.

Others I wouldn’t be surprised to breakout: Garrett Hampson, Brendan Rodgers (as Adam Peterson discussed yesterday) and Colton Welker.

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Colorado Rockies: Will Brendan Rodgers get more playing time in 2021? | Rox Pile

After Bud Black’s spoke with MLB Network Radio about Brendan Rodgers, Noah Yingling took a look at how Brendan Rodgers could earn himself some more playing time. Much of Rodgers’ role depends on whether McMahon finds his 2019 form and there’s always the possibility of either Arenado or Story being traded.

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