It’s needless to say that the Rockies’ 2021 season was not ideal. Sure, many weren’t expecting a World Series title but the team also wasn’t as terrible as many predicted them to be. Ultimately, the season became a smorgasbord of mixed results that provided highs and lows. As the season comes to a close, let’s look back at some of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly that was the Rockies season.
Brendan Rodgers finally arrives
While the offense felt mostly underwhelming this season, there were still some offensive breakouts that stood out this season. C.J. Cron comes up quite a bit, as he should because his production numbers are among the top for the Rockies and he provides stability at a position the Rockies have lacked for the past several years. Yet, for this article, I wanted to focus on Brendan Rodgers because we finally have a better idea of what he can do at the big-league level.
After Rodgers came up limp in Spring Training while stealing second base, many of us feared that it would be another lost season for Rodgers. Luckily for the Rockies, that wasn’t true at all. In 100 games this season, Rodgers has slashed .285/.329/.470 with 21 doubles, 15 home runs, and 50 RBI. What has been even more encouraging is that Rodgers has become the Rockies road warrior where he has an OPS of .864 away from Coors Field. Rodgers aims to have a critical role with the Rockies in the coming years and he took some huge strides in 2021.
The Rockies starting rotation turned in another solid year on the mound, but their brethren down in the bullpen weren’t so lucky as a whole. For most of the year, the bullpen struggled to find their footing as a group and become a reliable piece in each game. They have been able to clean things up over the past month or so, but it came too late in the season when the team was already out of contention.
The bullpen has a 4.88 ERA on the season, allowing 325 runs. They were not as prone to give up the long ball, but it was an abundance of walks and lack of strikeouts that stung the bullpen the most. The relievers have a K/BB ratio of 2.07 which ranks among the worst in the league. The inability to prevent traffic and shut the door when there are runners on lead to 26 blown saves on the year. Again, the bullpen has improved over the final month of the season, but if the Rockies want to improve, they need their relievers to contend at the start of the season.
The Rockies won their first road game of the season at the end of April. They would win their thirteenth game at the end of July, and for a time they were in danger of becoming the worst road team in the history of baseball. The offense became the biggest culprit of the road struggles this season. As a team, they slashed .217/.291/.351 with 78 home runs and a league-worst 279 runs scored. It also didn’t help that the team was shut out 16 times while on the road. They became a stark contrast to the dominant offensive team that graced Coors Field.
The pitchers were also not immune to the dangers of the road. As a staff, they have posted a 4.90 ERA on the road, 0.33 points higher than what they posted at Coors Field this season. Opposing teams are slashing .262/.337/.441 against the Rockies, which is among the worst in all of baseball. In some sort of bizarre circumstance, Rockies pitchers are more comfortable at home than on the road, and the failure by everyone on the road helped sink the season.
At the end of the season, the Rockies have a road record of 26-53 and it isn’t far-fetched to think that if the Rockies hadn’t been so abysmal on the road for most of the season, they would have been in a much better position as a team.
There is so much more that we could spend time talking about concerning the Rockies this year. Like any type of sports season, there will be highlights, lowlights, and unspeakable horrors. Yes, the Rockies weren’t as terrible as many thought they would be and there were some things to get excited about. Yet, there were some glaring weaknesses that the Rockies will need to address if they want to find a way back into contention. This offseason will go a long way in telling what the Rockies' intentions are for the future.
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In a move that was inevitable to happen, the Rockies found their next general manager in the form of interim general manager Bill Schmidt.
“The past five months have been important for our club,” said Schmidt, “and we want our fans to know that, as a group, our baseball operations team is bringing a fresh perspective, approach, and energy in these roles. We’re going to work hard to deliver a consistent winning club to our fans.”
Schmidt has his work cut out for him if he wants to win over Rockies fans and turn his team around in the coming seasons.
Another move that feels inevitable is Trevor Story leaving the Rockies via free agency and suiting up for a new team in 2022. Patrick Saunders caught up with some of Story’s teammates to get a better idea of what the shortstop brings to the clubhouse. Ryan McMahon, Nolan Arenado, and Charlie Blackmon all come to the consensus that Story is one of the hardest-working players in the game and someone you definitely want on your team.
On the farm
A pitcher’s duel was the result out of Sacramento tonight as the Isotopes dropped their 71st game of the season. Sean Hjelle took the mound for the River Cats and tossed six strong innings allowing no runs on two hits with five strike outs and two walks. He was opposed by Bernardo Flores Jr. of the Isotopes who turned in a favorable outing as well by allowing one run on four hits in 4 innings of work.
Sacramento took a 1-0 lead in the third inning after a Mauricio Dubón home run with two outs. The Isotopes bullpen would keep teh River Cats off the board until the bottom of the eighth when Mike Tauchman singled in a run to give them a 2-0 lead.
That run proved to be the difference maker when Taylor Snyder belted his 12th home run in Triple-A and his second hit of the night in the top of the ninth to make it a one-run game yet again. Unfortunately for Albuquerque, Yunior Marte bounced back to strike out the next two batters to secure the victory and the save.
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