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Dreaming of mile-high Schwarbombs

Colorado Rockies news and links for Friday, November 4, 2022

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What could be better than Schwarbombs in the World Series?

Schwarbombs at altitude. On the regular.

Can you just imagine Kyle Schwarber in a Rockies uniform? It would be a thing of beauty.

Schwarber mashed 46 home runs this season and has hit five in 16 games this postseason. At Coors Field, 53 of the balls Schwarber hit this season would have been homers, according to Baseball Savant. Even if he was a Rockie, he wouldn’t play all his games at a mile high, so it’s not the best statistic. But it’s seven more homers, so you could at least factor in a few more. Considering balls fly 5-10% farther at Coors Field, you could also deduce that the Schwarbombs would be an even grander sight — hitting the concourse in left field and second deck in center and right. If we say his 488-foot bomb at Petco Park would have gone 7.5% farther, that’s 525 feet.

There’s no going back in time, but if there was, I wish the Rockies would have signed Schwarber. Hindsight is always 20-20 and it’s easy to say that after the type of season he had in 2022. Looking at his numbers and knowing that the Rockies need more power, he would have been a better fit in Colorado than Kris Bryant. It’s not fair to judge Bryant by his injury-demolished first season with the Rockies, and maybe time will prove that his signing was the right move.

If Bryant is healthy in 2023, and I hope he is, he will make the Rockies better. He has a higher batting average and on-base percentage than Schwarber. On the other hand, Schwarber has the power and that’s what the Rockies need. He strikes out more and has a significantly lower average, but the Rockies don’t need that. They need homers.

Kyle Schwarber vs. Kris Bryant

Player/year Games AB R H 2B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Player/year Games AB R H 2B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Kyle Schwarber 2022 155 577 100 126 21 46 94 86 200 .218 .323 .504 .827
Kris Bryant 2022 42 160 28 49 12 5 14 17 27 .306 .376 .475 .851
Kyle Schwarber 2021 113 399 76 106 19 32 71 64 127 .266 .374 .554 .928
Kris Bryant 2021 144 513 86 136 32 25 73 62 135 .265 .353 .481 .835
Kyle Schwarber Career 819 2782 471 648 111 199 444 424 918 .233 .339 .495 .834
Kris Bryant Career 926 3447 620 963 216 172 501 460 935 .279 .376 .503 .879
Kyle Schwarber Postseason 51 161 30 39 2 14 26 32 46 .241 .369 .512 .881
Kris Bryant Postseason 44 170 18 43 8 7 18 14 55 .253 .314 .435 .749
Kyle Schwarber Coors Field 11 41 11 11 1 5 16 5 10 .268 .354 .659 1.013
Kris Bryant Coors Field 42 156 25 47 7 2 14 14 30 .301 .375 .385 .760

The Rockies tied for 22nd as a team with 149 homers. Left fielders hit 13 homers for the Rockies this year. If you substitute Schwarber’s 46 for that 13, the Rockies would have shot up 182 for 13th overall in MLB. In 11 games in his career at Coors Field, Schwarber has five home runs. It’s a small sample size that also gives him a 1.013 OPS.

Schwarber has more home runs this postseason than the Rockies combined for as a team in six playoff games in 2017 and 2018, including the 163 tiebreaker game vs. the Dodgers. The Rockies hit only four homers — two apiece by Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story. The Rockies need more homers to get to the playoffs and more homers to improve a 1-5 record in the last 13 years in the playoffs.

The Rockies finished 2022 tied for the sixth-best average in MLB. It didn’t translate to runs or wins. Schwarber is hitting .268 at Coors Field, but finished the 2022 regular season with a .218 batting average. Would it be worth a few more outs to have more homers? It seems like it. He also walks a lot, which bumped up his OBP to .323.

Then there is the money factor and length of the deal that would have possibly made Schwarber a better fit.

Schwarber was a free agent after the 2021 season and signed with the Phillies on March 16 to a four-year, $79 million deal that will keep him in Philly through 2025 when he’s 33 years old. In his eighth season in MLB, the two-time All-Star will make between $19-20 million a year.

Two days later, the Rockies signed Bryant to a seven-year, $182 million deal. He got $17 million and a $7 million signing bonus in 2022. The four-time All-Star and 2017 NL MVP will make $26-27 million a year for the next six years until he’s 36 years old. He’s also been in the league for eight years. While he’s a proven star, he’s also 30. The Rockies offered a six-year deal to a 32-year-old Charlie Blackmon and are dealing with the consequences of a lengthy deal to an aging star as they’ll pay $15 million for a 36-year-old, past-his-prime Blackmon. Bryant’s contract could very well play out the same way.

Then there is the leadership component. The Rockies have a lead-by-example clubhouse with Blackmon commanding the ship. That’s great, but gameday Chuck Nazty is very stoic. Maybe that combined with four-straight losing seasons doesn’t generate a lot of energy on the field, but the Rockies need it. The Athletic’s Andy McCullough published an article this week about Schwarber’s strength as a leader, which is one of the reasons Philadelphia signed him. Phillies general manager Sam Fuld said, “He’s almost what you look up in a dictionary when it comes to leadership.”

McCullough put it best:

“To be a leader in a baseball clubhouse is to occupy an enigmatic position. Rarely does it require showy gestures or impassioned speeches. Ballplayers respond to subtler things, to steadiness and quiet confidence, to people like Schwarber, the sort of veteran with the résumé to garner respect, the capacity to connect with his peers, the willingness to crush cold ones and talk ball, and the resourcefulness to organize a karaoke night.”

Bryant could turn out to be an outstanding player for the Rockies. I really hope he does. But he’ll never hit Schwarbombs. The Rockies need to sign someone to team up with Bryant and bring more bombs to Blake Street.

★ ★ ★

MLB rumors: Mets ‘prioritizing’ Edwin Díaz and Brandon Nimmo in free agency, per report | CBS Sports

This may not do much to quiet rumors about the Rockies pursuing Brandon Nimmo, but the Mets are on the record as wanting to keep him. Of course, anything could happen. One free agent didn’t make the top-priority list and that’s Adam Ottavino. Maybe the Rockies should put their hat in the ring on that one.

★ ★ ★

Arizona Fall League

Mesa Solar Sox 4, Salt River Rafters 3 (10 innings)

Catcher Braxton Fulford was the only Rockies prospect in action for the Rafters on Thursday night and he went 1-for-4 with a single and a strikeout. Playing for the Low-A Fresno Grizzlies this season, Fulford hit .268/.380/.448 with 15 homers, 17 doubles, and 53 RBI in 366 at-bats in 104 games. He’s had 27 at-bats in 11 games in the AFL, slashing .148/.258/.158 with four hits, one double, three RBI, three walks, and two stolen bases. The Solar Sox went up 2-0 in the first inning, but the Rafters rallied to tie the game at 3-all in the sixth inning. The score held until Salt River’s Troy Watson threw a wild pitch and Mesa scored the winning run in the 10th inning.

★ ★ ★

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