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The continuing legacy of the Bridich Barrier

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Colorado Rockies news and links for Monday, October 25, 2021

In April of this year, fewer than four weeks after Opening Day, Rockies GM Jeff Bridich stepped down. The timing was curious, the fan reaction was mostly one of celebration, and the team moved on. While the players with whom Bridich built the Rockies will all eventually leave, one of his effects on the construction of the Rockies - well, of Coors Field - continues to remain.

The “Bridich Barrier,” erected in 2016, is the raising of the outfield wall in right center field from just under 8 feet to 16 feet-6 inches, matching the out of town scoreboard that extends into the right field corner.

Originally intended to give Rockies pitchers more of a chance by keeping more balls in the yard, it immediately caught the attention of Rockies fans by doing just that - but for the wrong side. Trevor Story, making his major league debut, immediately endeared himself to Rockies fans everywhere by hitting a major-league record 10 home runs in April, and he would have had two more if it weren’t for the new architecture. It was Story that christened the “Bridich Barrier,” and the name has stuck.

You don’t need to be a physics major to see that the new wall could stop would-be home runs. But did it make a difference over the course of a season and benefit the Rockies pitching staff? Hard to tell.

Rockies Team Pitching, 2007-present

Year Record ERA NL Rank 3 Yr Rolling Rank HR allowed NL Rank 3 Yr Rolling Rank
Year Record ERA NL Rank 3 Yr Rolling Rank HR allowed NL Rank 3 Yr Rolling Rank
2021 74-84 4.82 12 14.00 196 8 12.00
2020 26-34 5.59 15 14.00 83 13 12.67
2019 71-91 5.56 15 11.67 270 15 11.00
2018 91-72 4.33 12 11.33 184 10 9.67
2017 87-75 4.51 8 12.33 190 8 11.00
2016 75-87 4.91 14 14.67 181 11 13.33
2015 68-94 5.04 15 15.00 183 14 11.67
2014 66-96 4.84 15 15.33 173 15 12.33
2013 74-88 4.44 15 15.33 136 6 12.00
2012 64-98 5.22 16 14.33 198 16 12.33
2011 73-89 4.43 15 11.67 176 14 8.67
2010 83-79 4.14 12 11.67 139 7 5.33
2009 92-70 4.22 8 10.33 141 5 4.67
2008 74-88 4.77 15 12.00 148 4 4.00
2007 90-73 4.32 8 12.00 164 5 6.33
Baseball Reference

The trends don’t appear to be significant. The Rockies staff was able to escape the bottom third of the NL in terms of home runs allowed and ERA in 2017, but have since returned. The number of home runs allowed has exceeded the 2015 totals in most years since, but that’s more indicative of the home run happy state of baseball than it is about how home run happy Coors Field is.

Park factors tell a similar story. Changes in other parks constructions, as well as random year to year differences appear to affect the factors more than the raising of a wall. Coors Fields park factors have remained relatively consistent over the last ten years.

Side note - this chart represents the effect of the humidor quite well. Park factors are calculated with the last three years data, and the 2012 install of the humidor made Coors Fields HR and runs factor both crater much more effectively than the Bridich Barrier did.

So, has the Bridich Barrier worked? It doesn’t appear so. No, it was never expected nor intended to be as effective as the humidor, but it has only ever offered token resistance against the barrage of home runs.

It could be viewed, however, as a fitting tribute to Jeff Bridich’s tenure as Rockies general manager: an aesthetic change that ultimately did nothing to change the status quo.

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Tyler Matzek is Beating the Yips and NL Hitters | FanGraphs

The Rockies first round draft pick in 2009, Tyler Matzek was never able to fulfill his promise in Colorado. A starter for the Rockies in 2014 and 2015, he bounced around major league organizations during the late 2010s but has now found a home with the World Series-bound Braves. FanGraph’s Jay Jaffe recaps Matzek’s lost years (he had a 5.89 ERA for the Texas Airhogs of the Independent League in 2018!) and his recent success against the Dodgers in the NLCS.

Power hitter, like Nick Castellanos, leads Rockies’ offseason wish list | The Denver Post ($)

Patrick Saunders takes a stab at speculating what the Rockies will try to do this offseason. With a seemingly likely large hole at shortstop, and an overall need for offensive firepower, Saunders points to players like Nick Castellanos or Chris Taylor for the Rockies to target. Also buried in this article is the fact that the Rockies had offered Jon Gray a contract extension before the end of the season, but it was rejected. While this does not guarantee Gray will be leaving, he’ll at least test the open market, where he’s sure to get sizeable interest. If he does end up going elsewhere, he’ll leave another large hole in the Rockies lineup needing a replacement.

On the Farm: Arizona Fall League Edition

The AFL had a league-wide off day on Sunday. The Rockies representatives on the Salt River Rafters will take an extended break Monday and Tuesday, but will be back at it on Wednesday, hosting the Scottsdale Scorpions at the Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

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