As the 2022 MLB postseason beings today, the Rockies find themselves on the outside looking in for the fourth straight season.
Even though they aren’t in it, some of the teams offer inspiration in terms of proving that significant turnaround is possible and playoff-less streaks are breakable.
Tops on that list are the Seattle Mariners, who snapped the longest playoff drought in North America in professional sports: 21 years.
Can you imagine? If the Rockies were on that track, it would be 2039 before they would taste the playoffs again.
Trying to have a more positive outlook, the Mariners were 68-94 (.420 winning percentage) in 2019, then ignoring COVID-19-shortened 2020, they improved by 22 wins to finish with a 90-72 record (.556 winning percentage) last season and this season. The Rockies finished 68-94 this season and have some promising young players that could help fuel a turnaround, as long as it’s combined with more competent pitching and more power.
In their 30-year team history, the Rockies longest streak of not making the playoffs is 11 years. Despite being an expansion team starting from scratch, the Rockies became the fastest expansion team to make the playoffs when they won the Wild Card in 1995, just their third season. That 11-year drought ensued until Rocktober hit in 2007 and gave fans a ride that we’ll never forget. The Rockies made it back to the postseason in 2009, but weren’t able to regain the magic despite having a roster loaded with talent.
It would be another eight years until the Rockies made the playoffs again, making back-to-back appearances. Colorado lost in the one-game Wild Card in 2017, but won it the next year before being swept by the Brewers in the NLDS.
Another team snapped an 11-year playoff drought this season: the Phillies. After winning a World Series in 2008 in a five-year consecutive playoff streak, the Phillies struggled for over a decade, but are back after winning a Wild Card spot this year. If the Rockies follow the Phillies path, it would be 2029 before they reached the playoffs again.
Adding Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos prior to the 2022 season to build around a strong core lead by Bryce Harper & Co., helped the Phillies secure the No. 6 seed. This is new Wild Card spot that increases the Rockies chances of making the playoffs in the future exponentially, which is also how the Rockies punched their postseason ticket in 1995 when MLB first introduced Wild Card teams. Perhaps Philadelphia’s success can motivate the Rockies front office to bring in some help beyond Kris Bryant and the usual minor league contracts. Of course, the Phillies have the fourth highest payroll in MLB at over $244.8 million, so maybe that’s not realistic.
The Mets hadn’t been to the playoffs since 2016 and are back this year. They retooled with top-tier free agents to win 34 more games this season than last, but they also have the highest payroll in baseball at over $281.5 million. The Padres won 10 more games this season than last to get back into the postseason by getting the No. 5 seed (second Wild Card spot), but they also signed Juan Soto and have the fifth highest payroll in MLB at $236.2 million.
The top five teams in payroll are all in the playoffs, seven in the top 10, and nine out of the top 12 are all in the playoffs. So money still matters; however, the Rockies rank just below league average at No. 17 at $158.9 million, but still above three playoff teams: No. 21 Seattle ($128.7 million), No. 25 Tampa Bay ($99.5 million), and No. 28 Cleveland ($82.1 million). Money isn’t everything.
Perhaps the greatest inspiration for the Rockies lies outside the playoff bracket. Last year, the Diamondbacks and Orioles both went 52-110. This season, Arizona won 22 more games to finish 74-88 with six more wins than the Rockies and are ranked No. 23 in payroll at $105.8 million. The Orioles did even better, taking their .321 winning percentage in 2021 and bumping it up to .512 with 83 wins in 2022. The Orioles rank No. 29 in payroll and they traded All-Star Trey Mancini at the trade deadline. Both Arizona and Baltimore are trending in the right direction.
The Rockies are headed in the wrong direction. They lost seven more games this season than last season. The pitching staff that used to be the strength has regressed and the lackluster offense just doesn’t score runs. There’s a lot to fix, but a lot of teams have these problems. Many teams have been able to fix those problems and this year’s bracket proves it.
It all just depends on whether or not the Rockies front office can develop a plan, improve the roster, develop the up-and-coming prospects, and start righting the ship. If not, the Rockies will continue to find themselves in the basement of the NL West and building on their postseason drought.
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Ending on a High Note: Noah Davis Closes Out 2022 as a Major Leaguer | Rockies Magazine
Noah Davis had already packed and shipped most of his belongings and was ready to head come to California for the offseason. That’s when the Double-A Hartford pitcher got the call to join the Rockies. This is one of several interesting details as told by Kevin Henry about Davis, who had two late-season call-ups and finally made his MLB debut in the season finale on Wednesday against the Dodgers.
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Arizona Fall League
Surprise Saguaros 8, Salt River Rafters 6
Grant Lavigne (No. 19 PuRP) tried to help rally the Rafters to their first win of the season, hitting an RBI single in the seventh inning as part of a two-run rally that cut the Saguaros lead to 8-6. The rally came up short as he was stranded at third to end the game and the Rafters dropped to 0-4. Lavigne finished the night going 2-for-4 with a double and he also scored a run. Zac Veen (No. 2 PuRP) went 1-for-2 with two walks and a run scored. In the short AFL season, Veen is 5-for-7 in two games with two runs, one double, one homer, three RBI, and two walks. Not too shabby.
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