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Are the Rockies using their speed enough?

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Colorado Rockies news and links for Friday, August 6, 2021

Going into the season, the Rockies were clear about wanting to use their speed on the basepaths. Trevor Story, coming off winning the NL stolen base crown with 15 SBs in 2020, set the goal of joining the 30/30 club in homers and stolen bases, which means he’d have to top his career-best single-season mark of 27. Raimel Tapia, Garrett Hampson, and Sam Hilliard were looking to see how many bases they could steal in a full season of play at the MLB level and Brendan Rodgers was hoping to post 20 stolen bags in his first full season in the majors.

So, with two-thirds of the season completed, how are the Rockies speed goals coming along?

As a team, the Rockies are in a four-way tie for fourth in the MLB with 62 stolen bases, going into Thursday’s action. So far, this is an improvement from their seventh-place finish in 2020. However, the Rockies were successful in 82.4 percent of their steal attempts in 2020 and their success percentage in 2021 is down slightly at 78.4 percent.

When it comes to having opportunities to steal, the Rockies have made some improvements in 2021. In 2019, the Rockies ranked 14th in the NL in on-base percentage at .311 and finished 14th in the league with 71 steals and 19th in a steal percentage of 69.6 percent. This season, the Rockies rank 10 out of 15 in on-base percentage in the NL and 18th overall in the league. They are also second in the MLB with stolen base opportunities (“a plate appearance through which a runner was on first or second with the next base open”) at 1515, which is only second to the Padres 1545.

Stolen Base Team Leaders in 2021

Team SBs CS % SBO OBP Runs
Team SBs CS % SBO OBP Runs
Padres 91 29 75.8% 1545 0.328 527
Marlins 77 21 78.6% 1406 0.302 427
Royals 68 18 79.1% 1355 0.302 438
Rockies 62 17 78.4% 1515 0.314 477
Phillies 62 13 82.7% 1489 0.321 499
Rays 62 29 68.1% 1513 0.315 539
Rangers 62 20 75.6% 1375 0.293 413
Tigers 61 18 77.2% 1418 0.312 490
Cardinals 58 16 78.4% 1423 0.305 427
Indians 57 11 83.8% 1319 0.298 454
Brewers 57 16 78.1% 1501 0.317 494

Individually, the results are pretty impressive, especially considering Hilliard has played most of his season in the minors (he’s only appeared in 37 games with the Rockies) and Rodgers spent the first month and half of the season on the IL.

Raimel Tapia is leading the team with 19 stolen bases, which is tied for sixth in the MLB. He’s been caught four times, including once in the first inning against the Cubs Thursday. Story currently has 17 stolen bases, which is tied for ninth, and he’s been caught stealing five times. (While he has a ways to go to get to 30 in stolen bases, Story’s two homers on Thursday helped him hit the halfway mark in his 30 goal for homers.) Hampson is tied for 16th in the MLB with 14 stolen bases and he’s also been caught stealing four times.

After that, the drop-off is substantive. The fourth-best base stealer on the Rockies is Ryan McMahon, a player not typically known for his speed. McMahon has four stolen bases, but he’s also been caught twice. Three Rockies follow at two SBs each in Charlie Blackmon, Yonathan Daza, and Chris Owings. C.J. Cron and Sam Hilliard each have one. Rodgers has yet to swipe a bag, but considering that he injured his hamstring trying to steal in spring training on March 13, which ended up delaying his 2021 MLB debut until May 21, this is understandable.

Knowing that the Rockies lineup could be different next year, including the departure of Story and impending decisions about developing young players, acquiring more power, and deciding plan for the future for the organization, how will speed be prioritized? Losing Story will be a big dent in the stolen bases and speed, but more regular playing time for Rodgers and Hilliard could help.

If you look at Rockies history, of the six best teams in terms of stolen bases (1996: 201; 1993: 146; 2008: 141; 1997: 137; 2000: 132; 2001: 131), none of them made the postseason. In playoff years, the stolen bases have been all over the place, ranging from third lowest in team history (59) and seventh best (125): 1995: 125; 2007: 100; 2009: 106; 2017: 59; 2018: 95.

This is where having a direction and a plan could come in handy. Do the Rockies want to be a speed team with more small ball? Or do they want to revert back to the Blake Street Bomber days and prioritize power? Will they have to do both to complete in and out of altitude? I am leaning toward the latter.

In the meantime, how do you think the Rockies are using their speed this year?

Poll

Are the Rockies using their speed on the basepaths enough?

This poll is closed

  • 38%
    The Rockies are tied for 4th in stolen bases. That’s great. Keep it up.
    (29 votes)
  • 28%
    The Rockies need to be more aggressive on the basepaths and get more steals.
    (21 votes)
  • 9%
    The Rockies need to steal less and focus more on power.
    (7 votes)
  • 24%
    It doesn’t matter if the Rockies pitchers, starters or bullpen, can’t keep them in games.
    (18 votes)
75 votes total Vote Now

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Injuries & Roster Moves: Owings done for ‘21 | MLB.com

For all the good news that came on Wednesday and Thursday, including Antonio Senzatela, Yency Almonte, and Robert Stephenson returning to the active roster from COVID protocols and injuries, there was also bad news. Chris Owings was officially ruled out for the rest of 2021 after suffering two left thumb injuries. Owings only played in 21 games this season, but he performed well in that limited sample, hitting .326/.420/.628 with three triples, four doubles, and one homer in 43 at-bats in 21 games.

In other injury news, Kyle Freeland is still listed as day to day after being hit in the ankle with a comebacker in Tuesday’s win over the Cubs. While he said the bruise was sore on Wednesday, the swelling wasn’t bad. By the afternoon, he was able to put on cleats and take batting practice to work on bunting.

Germán Márquez is keeping the Rockies together, a rare pitching voice that carries in Colorado | The Athletic ($)

One of the delights of this season, and really a delight ever since he made his MLB debut on Sept. 8, 2016, has been watching Germán Márquez pitch for the Colorado Rockies. He’s only 26. He’s developed into an All-Star and a clubhouse leader. This is a great tribute to him by Nick Groke, highlighting quotes from teammates and coaches on his ability to bring the team together in good and bad times.

Prospects who could help down the stretch | MLB.com

In an article noting one player each team should bring up, MLB.com staff picked Ryan Vilade. Focusing on the requirement that the Rockies have to add Vilade to the 40-man roster during the offseason, the MLB.com writers say he deserves the call-up because he’s slashing .317/.364/.455 since early July.

On the farm

Triple-A: Albuquerque Isotopes 8, Oklahoma City Dodgers 7 (10)

Taylor Snyder hit an RBI double and then came around to score the winning run on a Dustin Garneau walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th for an exciting win on Thursday night. After blowing a 6-1 lead, the Isotopes found themselves headed for extra innings when the Dodgers scored five runs in the seventh and eighth innings. Then Albuquerque found themselves trailing 7-6 after Yoshi Tsutsugo hit an RBI double in the top of the 10th.

Ryan Vilade hit his fourth homer of the year, a two-run shot in the sixth inning, to highlight a three-hit, three-runs-scored night. Synder finished with two hits and two RBI and Taylor Motter and Alan Trejo both added two hits and one run scored. Brandon Gold had a solid start, giving up one run on five hits in six innings with six strikeouts. Justin Lawrence earned the win after only giving up one run in the ninth and 10th innings.

Double-A: New Hampshire Fisher Cats 6, Hartford Yard Goats 2

Taking advantage of four hits, two walks, and a fielding error, New Hampshire scored five runs in the bottom of the eighth and hung on for the win on Thursday night. Both of the Yard Goat runs came in the fourth when Casey Golden, Coco Montes, and Michael Toglia all doubled. That made up for half of Hartford’s six hits on the night. Nick Bush had a decent start, going five innings while only giving up one run on six hits with six strikeouts and two walks. Nick Kennedy blew the save, surrendering four runs on two hits in 13 of an inning.

High-A: Spokane Indians 9, Everett AquaSox 8

Spokane went into the bottom of the ninth trailing by a run, but Isaac Collins hit a walk-off RBI double to win in thrilling fashion. Daniel Montano led off the frame with a double and then advanced to third on a sac bunt by Javier Guevara. Nick Decolati followed with an RBI single to tie the game and set the stage for Collins.

Hunter Stovall added a three-run homer, while Colton Welker and Kyle Datres both hit solo homers for the Indians. Stephen Jones three a scoreless ninth with one strikeout and one walk to earn the win.

Low-A: Fresno Grizzlies 9, San Jose Giants 4

Zac Veen continues his impressive first real season in the Rockies farm system, going 3-for-4 with three RBI, three runs scored, and a walk in Thursday’s win. His night also included a two-run homer, which was his 12th of the season. Third baseman Warming Bernable drove in three runs for the Grizzlies, including two on a double in the first inning. Catcher Ronaiker Palma also posted a three-hit night, adding one RBI and one run.

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