Going into the 2020 season, the Rockies were hoping the continued development of young players would lead the club back to the postseason, among other things. Center fielder David Dahl was looking to build on his All-Star campaign from 2019; Ryan McMahon used his first season playing more than 100 games (141 to be exact) to knock 24 home runs; and Sam Hilliard put up superstar numbers during a 27 game stint in the bigs in September by crushing seven home runs to go along with his .649 slugging and 1.006 total OPS.
The Rockies, barring a miracle, will not be playing postseason ball in 2020 and it’s hard to figure out exactly who is to blame. Nolan Arenado’s early shoulder injury seems to be the suspect behind his underwhelming year at the plate; the bullpen, currently void of left-handers, has the second worst ERA in baseball behind the historically bad Phillies ‘pen; and Daniel Murphy has continued to struggle in his second year with the club.
But the expected improvement for these young guys was nowhere to be found and certainly contributed to the lackluster performances following the team’s hot start. Dahl spent nearly a month on the injured list with a sore back and was shut down yesterday due to a shoulder injury. While healthy, he hit a meager .183 in the 24 games he played in 2020. He struck out 28 times to his 17 hits, and hit zero home runs. Not quite what the team was hoping for after he hit .302 in 100 games in 2019 to go along with 16 homers.
McMahon, while improving on his home run rate (22.45 AB/HR in 2019 and 21.42 AB/HR in 2020), saw his batting average drop from .250 in 2019 to .207 in 2020. He also saw his strikeouts increase, as his strikeouts per game of 1.13 in 2019 jumped to 1.34 in 2020. 1.13 was high to begin with, but McMahon took a step in the wrong direction this year in that department.
Lastly is Sam Hilliard, whose tough season saw him sent to the alternate training site last Thursday only to be called back four days later on September 21st. While last season’s sample size was small, the 6-foot-5-inch outfielder flashed elite potential, only to come back down to earth this year. In 30 games, compared to last year’s 27, almost all of Hilliard’s stats have trended down. His average dropped from .273 to .239, his slugging percentage from .649 to .489, and his OPS from 1.006 to .791.
2020 has been such a strange season — between cancelled Spring Training, Summer Camp, and a 60-game season — that it’s possible to draw this all up to an abnormal schedule, but the signs are certainly worrisome for the Rockies. Year after year, it seems the discussion revolves around finding offense behind the superstar trio of Arenado, Blackmon, and Story, and it was mostly the same this year. 2021 will go a long way towards determining whether or not 2020 was an aberration for the up and comers, or the norm. The Rockies are counting on it being the former.
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The kind of story that all baseball fans (and humans in general) can get behind. Trey Mancini, the stud outfielder for the Baltimore Orioles, completed chemotherapy this week after a diagnosis of Stage 3 colon cancer on March 6. The treatment has kept Mancini off the field in 2020, but he hopes to play again in 2021. After starting chemotherapy on April 13, Mancini said he would attempt to workout throughout the treatment and wanted to “make sure that I am physically fine before I go out there and start trying to perform again at a major league level.” We can’t wait to see him back on the diamond again in the near future.
MLB’s strange 2020 season gives players freedom to shine - and connect with fans like never before | USA Today
The lack of fans has been anything but normal this season, but we’ve received an unexpected gift from it: a new look into the on-field banter amongst players and coaches. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale details some of the best from across the majors — too many to list here, but I couldn’t help but include some of my favorites.
Oakland Athletics DH Mark Canha “Bob Melvin keeps asking me...you sick of DHing? No, it’s the best job in all of sports. You don’t have to do anything” Sounds like Mark Canha would support the universal DH rule in case he ever ends up at an NL club.
And my other favorite came when Fernando Tatis Jr. was asked whether he or teammate Mike Clevinger had the better hair. “I’ve got to say me...When you look good, you play good.” Tatis certainly has played well this year. Maybe the Rockies need to improve their hair (Not you Charlie and Raimel. You guys are perfect.)
This kind of chatter doesn’t replace the glory of having fans at the ballpark, but certainly serves as great entertainment and might help grow the popularity of the game. I’m looking forward to hearing some more audio as we get into the heat of the playoffs.
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