There are so many unknowns when it comes to the 2023 Rockies.
Who will make up the rotation and can it improve? How can the Rockies hit more homers? Who will play center field? How can the bullpen be more effective? Who will be on the 2023 roster? Who will the hitting coach be?
It’s overwhelming and we’ve got all offseason to analyze and fantasize. But one thing we do know about 2023, the Rockies 30th season as a franchise, is the schedule. For the first time in MLB history, every team will face every other team in the league and the daunting slate of division matchups will decrease. This is good news for the Rockies. Just how much? That’s the question.
For Colorado, this means instead of playing the Dodgers and Giants 19 times each, they will face them 13 times each. The Rockies combined to go 13-25 against the two teams last year. Over the last two years, the Rockies are 9-29 vs. the Giants. Any reduction in Los Angeles and San Francisco is a beautiful thing.
On the other hand, fewer NL West matchups also means that the Rockies will face the Padres and Diamondbacks, a pair of teams Colorado went 20-18 against in 2022, fewer times.
Over the last six years, including four losing seasons and two playoff trips, the Rockies have played better against the rest of the league (2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021) than the NL West. In some years, like 2021 and 2020, the difference in winning percentage outside the NL West was close to .100 higher. The outliers are 2022 when the Rockies had a .429 winning percentage vs. the NL West and were only .407 against the rest of the league and 2017 when the Rockies went .553 vs. the NL West and were .523 against everyone else.
Rockies NL West vs. Rest Records 2017-2022
|NL West||33-43 (.429)||31-45 (.407)||17-25 (.405)||32-44 (.421)||41-36 (.532)||42-34 (.553)|
|Rest||35-51 (.407)||43-42 (.509)||9-9 (.500)||39-47 (.453)||50-36 (.581)||45-41 (.523)|
|Overall||68-94 (.420)||74-87 (.460)||26-34 (.433)||71-91 (.438)||91-72 (.558)||87-75 (.537)|
The overall trend is that fewer games against the NL West are good for the Rockies. Even though 2022 is an outlier year, it was also a year when the Rockies ended the season with 16 straight games against the NL West and went 4-12. Anything that can make sure that never happens again, even if it was an altered schedule because of the strike-delayed season where the first week’s games got shifted to the end, is a welcome change.
In 2023 and beyond, for every series the Rockies take on the Astros, Yankees, Blue Jays, and Guardians, there are also Tigers, Royals, Rangers, and A’s. There are 14 MLB teams who finished 2022 below .500 and nine that posted 90 or more wins. It’s fair to say there are more mediocre and subpar teams than good teams and this shift in schedule levels the playing field across the league, especially with more Wild Card playoff spots. FanGraphs’ Dan Szymborski put it perfectly:
“When you have a lot of Wild Card spots, you create a fundamental bit of unfairness when the divisions are of meaningfully differing strengths; teams in weak divisions are competing directly against teams in stronger divisions for those Wild Card spots, with the former generally having easier schedules.”
Even with the change, Fangraphs still puts the Rockies strength of schedule as one of the hardest in MLB. In 2023, the Rockies are still at .508, which is the second hardest behind only Baltimore. In 2022, the Rockies were tied with the Phillies for the fourth-hardest schedule at .510 behind the Marlins, Nationals, and Orioles.
Even though it’s way too soon to make predictions, especially considering teams will make offseason moves (please Rockies make some moves), Szymborski re-ran his ZiPS to look at playoff probability with 2022 teams in their 2023 schedules. The good news is that the Rockies odds of making the playoffs and winning the NL West both increased. The bad news is, not by much.
The Rockies odds of making the playoffs in 2022 was 1.8% and winning the NL West was 0.8%. In 2023, as things stand now, the Rockies chances of making it to the postseason are 1.9%, while their chances of winning the NL West are 0.9%.
It’s not great, but it’s better. If the Rockies can improve the roster, then maybe there are reasons to hope that the Rockies will be better in 2023. After 2022, it’s hard to get worse.
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While we have to wait until Nov. 1 to hear the announcement of Gold Glove winners, Brendan Rodgers won another award on Thursday.
This is a good feature from Thomas Harding with information about the work Rodgers put in this season and how he waits until the season is over to look at stats. With defensive runs saved being the most weighted stat in the Fielding Bible Awards, this was a no-brainer for Rodgers. Rodgers was also nominated for a Silver Slugger on Thursday as one of five NL second basemen along with Jeff McNeil, Jake Cronenworth, Ketel Marte, and Kolten Wong. Colorado Charlie Blackmon earned the Rockies only other nomination for the top offensive player at each position. Blackmon is up against some stiff DH competition at designated hitter against Josh Bell, Albert Pujols, Luke Voit, Justin Turner, and Bryce Harper. Winners will be announced on Nov. 10.
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Arizona Fall League
Grant Lavigne hit a solo homer and an RBI single, in addition to scoring two runs and drawing a walk to lead the Rafters to a big win on Thursday night. Warming Bernabel hit an RBI double in the first inning as the Rafters put up a five spot on the Desert Dogs. He also walked in the game. Zac Veen continued his thievery on the basepaths, swiping his 14th bag of the season on a 1-for-4 night where he scored two runs and drew one walk.
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