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Walk-off mania a highlight of Rockies 2021 season

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Colorado Rockies news and links for Friday, October 8, 2021

As we approach another long offseason for the Colorado Rockies, there will be lots to analyze, criticize, and piece together to try to understand the direction of this organization. It’s also important to look at what’s working and could be a foundation to build on for the future.

One of the most fun elements of the 2021 season for the Rockies was the franchise-record 12 walk-off wins. In other words, 16 percent of the Rockies wins came by way of walk off. Through July 18, the Rockies had 10 walk-off wins and they led the league in them for most of the season. As the Rockies red-hot home record cooled in the last two months of the season, the Rockies only got two more and finished in a three-way tie with the Phillies and A’s for the most walk offs. The Rockies also only lost to a walk off five times in the season, which is kind of surprising with that bullpen.

Not only are walk-off wins absolutely exhilarating for fans, but they also reveal a vital stat for any successful team: clutch hitting. If the Rockies are to become contenders again, this is huge. This is also where the walk offs are more of an indicator of how well a team plays at home vs. how clutch they are consistently. In 2021 with runners in scoring position, the Rockies finished tied for 16th with a team average of .252, 22nd in on-base percentage at .325, and 13th in slugging percentage at .426. Colorado finished tied for 11th with 47 homers and 11th in RBI at 505 with RISP, which, again, is surprising considering the Rockies finished tied for 21st overall in homers at 182 — a full 80 behind the league-leading Blue Jays at 262. Even when it comes to homers at home, the Rockies tied for 13th at 105 with the Giants. The Rockies ranked No. 26 in road homers at 78, which is no surprise at all.

Elias Díaz and Charlie Blackmon were the Colorado walk-off heroes with three apiece, becoming the second and third Rockies respectively to have three walk-off hits in a season (joining Dante Bichette). Seven of the Rockies homers came from homers with Díaz and Blackmon both hitting two and Raimel Tapia, Trevor Story, and C.J. Cron each hitting one. Blackmon, Díaz, and Cron each got another walk-off single and Joshua Fuentes added one of his own. The weirdest walk-off win came on a wild pitch to Brendan Rodgers to give the Rockies a win over the Rangers.

In terms of teams, the Rockies punished the Padres the most with three walk offs, followed by two apiece against the Cardinals and Diamondbacks. They got two very satisfying walk-offs against NLDS opponents the Giants and Dodgers (one each), as well as one apiece vs. the Phillies, Rangers, and Brewers.

So as a cheers to one of the greatest elements of the 2021 season, here is a chronological list of the 12 Rockies walk-off wins, followed by a poll to vote for your favorite.

Rockies Walk Offs in 2021

1. April 23 vs. Phillies: Rockies win 5-4 on a Tapia solo home run.

2. May 4 vs. Giants (seven innings): The Rockies went to the bottom of the seventh down 6-2 and Alan Trejo got things started with a one-out single and Garrett Hampson added a two-out single. Story then doubled to score both. Ryan McMahon singled to score Story to cut the Giants lead to one. Cron kept the rally going with a single before Blackmon crushed a three-run homer.

3. May 12 vs. Padres (seven innings): Fuentes singles to score Blackmon as the Rockies win 3-2. Fuentes’ shirt was lost in celebration.

4. May 23 vs. Diamondbacks: Rockies win 4-3 on Story solo homer.

5. June 1 vs. Texas: The Rockies win on a wild pitch as McMahon was on third and Joshua Fuentes was on first when ball four happened to be a wild one to Brandon Rodgers and McMahon dashed home for the 3-2 win in the 11th inning.

6. June 16 vs. Padres: Story drew a walk and then stole second, setting the stage for a pitch-hitting Blackmon to hit the game-winning single to give the Rockies an 8-7 win and sweep of the Padres.

7. June 18 vs. Brewers: In the 10th inning, Cron singles to score McMahon as Colorado wins 6-5.

8. July 1 vs. Cardinals: Díaz gave the Rockies a win on Nolan’s return to Coors Field when he lined a three-run homer to left for a win 5-2.

9. July 4 vs. Cardinals: Three days later, the Rockies walked off the Cards again, this time after Fuentes hit a two-out single, moved to second on a wild pitch, and came around to score on a head-first diving slide when Díaz did it again.

10. July 18 vs. Dodgers: In the top of the 10th, the Dodgers took a 5-4 lead, but the Rockies tied it when Rodgers and Story sacrificed Hampson around to score. Blackmon came up clutch again, helping the Rockies win 6-5. This was Blackmon’s fifth career walk-off homer, which is second only behind Todd Helton’s seven in Rockies history.

11. Aug. 16 vs. Padres: The Rockies win 6-5 on a Cron solo homer.

12. Aug. 21 vs. Arizona: Díaz caps off a great first season with the Rockies with a walk-off, three-run homer.

It’s fun to relive these moments, some of which came in big series wins and momentous streaks in the season. By August, the hope had fizzled a bit, but 2021 could stand in history as the Rockies walk-off year.

So which is your favorite?

Poll

What was the best walk-off win for the Rockies in 2021?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Raimel Tapia’s solo homer to beat the Phillies on April 23 for the first walk-off of the season.
    (1 vote)
  • 26%
    Charlie Blackmon’s 3-run homer against the Giants on May 4.
    (7 votes)
  • 19%
    Trevor Story’s walk-off homer vs. the Diamondbacks in what could be his last walk-off hit as a Rockie.
    (5 votes)
  • 30%
    Elias Diaz’s three-run homer on Nolan’s return to Coors Field.
    (8 votes)
  • 0%
    Diaz’s 4th of July RBI single to win the series vs. the Cardinals.
    (0 votes)
  • 15%
    Chuck Nazty’s solo homer to beat the Dodgers.
    (4 votes)
  • 3%
    A different one from 2021.
    (1 vote)
26 votes total Vote Now

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After signing with the Rockies at age 16, shortstop Ezequiel Tovar has been steadily working his way through the farm system to finish the season with the High-A Spokane Indians. Now 20, the Venezuelan will be suiting up in the Arizona Fall League. While the Rockies might be looking to fill the shortstop spot very soon with the expected departure of Trevor Story, Tovar is expected to need more time in the minors, especially without a season in 2020, to improve his bat and game, despite being ranked the No. 11 prospect for the Rockies, according to MLB Pipeline.

Rockies’ catchers were much improved in 2021 | Mile High Sports

This is another bright spot of the 2021 season: the improvement at the plate from the guys behind the plate. As Bryan Kilpatrick points out, the Rockies improved in WAR for catchers from being 29th in the MLB in 2020 to 17th in 2021. Kilpatrick also looks ahead to what the future could hold for Dom Nuñez, who didn’t fair as well, and the catchers in the farm system.

Padres fire manager Jayce Tingler after disappointing 2021 season | CBSsports.com

With the high expectations and payroll in San Diego, this move isn’t a surprise after the Padres finished with only five more wins than the Rockies. The Padres struggled with injuries this year, but also suffered an epic collapse after going 49-33 through June and then 30-50 over July, August, September, and October.

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