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Rockies need more production from No. 3 spot

Colorado Rockies news and links for Friday, May 20, 2022

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The Colorado Rockies have played 37 games this season and used 35 different lineups. A variety was expected with a rotating DH and to best align to right- and left-handed starters, but 35 is likely even higher due to injuries to Kris Bryant and Brendan Rodgers.

Despite some ups and downs, and the usual road woes, the Rockies offense is one of the best in MLB. Through Wednesday’s game, the Rockies have the best team average at .263 and have the fourth-best on-base percentage at .328. They are tied for fifth-best slugging percentage at .412 and are seventh in RBI at 168. While the offense is good, there are some holes — most notably the No. 3 and No. 7 spots in the lineup.

The lowest batting average and on-base percentage by lineup order is the seventh spot at .211 and .267, respectively. While this isn’t the worst thing since it’s toward the end of the lineup, batters in the No. 8 spot are hitting .331 and it sure would be good to have more action on the basepaths before them.

More importantly and impactfully, the No. 3 spot in the lineup, which customarily goes to the best hitter in the lineup, is the second-worst this season for the Rockies with a .223 batting average and .269 OBP. Nolan Arenado frequented this spot when he was the face of the franchise, but the next most common to hit in this coveted spot have been fellow All-Stars like Charlie Blackmon, Trevor Story, and David Dahl, as well as C.J. Cron in 2021.

This table, courtesy of Baseball Reference, shows the complete breakdown off batting order production this season.

Rockies Stats By Batting Order

1st 37 173 149 23 39 6 2 4 13 2 2 20 31 .262 .355 .409 .764 61 3
2nd 37 171 150 26 39 7 0 5 21 1 2 14 25 .260 .327 .407 .734 61 3
3rd 37 160 148 19 33 6 0 3 18 0 0 9 43 .223 .269 .324 .593 48 2
4th 37 156 143 26 47 8 1 10 31 0 0 10 37 .329 .378 .608 .987 87 3
5th 37 155 139 21 34 13 1 4 19 0 0 14 44 .245 .323 .439 .761 61 4
6th 37 151 134 17 35 7 0 5 19 1 0 14 28 .261 .344 .425 .770 57 3
7th 37 146 133 14 28 2 2 3 17 0 1 9 27 .211 .267 .323 .590 43 1
8th 37 142 130 17 43 8 0 1 15 1 3 10 21 .331 .387 .415 .803 54 3
9th 37 140 125 15 31 7 0 2 15 2 0 11 33 .248 .302 .352 .654 44 5

This season, Randal Grichuk has hit the most here at 13 times, followed by Bryant at 11, and Blackmon and Cron at five each. While the favored lineup would put Connor Joe leading off, Blackmon second, Cron at clean up, at Ryan McMahon in the five hole, the limited production before the clean-up hitter is a huge missed opportunity for the Rockies.

It’s not that Grichuk has been bad, he’s second on the team in RBI with 21, third in homers with five, and he’s hitting his .275/.322/.440. However, there are $182 million reasons why the three hole belongs to Bryant. He needs to seize it. Over his career, Bryant is hitting .278/.376/.502. This season, even with the power waning, he’s hitting .281/.338/.351. The big problem is that he’s only played in 15 games and only had 65 plate appearances.

Bryant hasn’t played since April 25. He was placed on the 10-day IL on April 29 with a strained lower back, but is set to return to the Rockies roster on Friday after making two rehab starts with Triple-A Albuquerque. He needs to bring some magic to the No. 3 spot and make the first through four spots in the lineup daunting for opposing pitchers.

The first goal has to be for No. 1-3 to get on base for Cron. It’s unacceptable that five out of Cron’s 10 homers have been solo. Cron is leading the team with 30 RBI. Just imagine how many more he could have if more guys were on base when he smashed balls 450 feet.

While the Rockies offense is good, the pitching struggles require it for the Rockies to be able to stay in games. The Giants series is a great example of this. The Giants took the series 2-1, but only outscored the Rockies 22-18. Pitching wasn’t great in games one and two, but the Rockies were still in each game. After Antonio Senzatela only made it two innings before suffering a back injury on Monday and Chad Kuhl only made it three innings on Tuesday, the bullpen needed 11 more pitchers between the two losses just to get through all 18 innings. The Rockies pitchers really need some more people on base for Cron and more production up and down the lineup.

Through Wednesday, the Rockies pitching staff has the highest batting average against in MLB at .283 and the second-highest ERA and WHIP at 5.03 and 1.50. They also rank No. 22 in homers surrendered with 38. This doesn’t bode well for the Rockies upcoming series against the Mets, who happen to be tied with the Dodgers for the best on-base percentage in the majors at .331. They also have the second-best team batting average at .252.

Of course, the offense could be dulled by snow and chilly temperatures in the forecast for Friday and Saturday.

If the Rockies want to compete with the NL East first-place Mets, and the NL West this season, it’s going to start with boosting the average and on-base percentage of the No. 3 spot in the lineup.

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MLB underperformers: One player from all 30 teams making you scream at your TV this season | The Athletic ($)

Kris Bryant wins this for the Rockies for his expensive absences so far. He hasn’t done much yet, but there is time to turn it around. Two former Rockies also made the list: Trevor Story for the Red Sox and Jake McGee for the Giants. Story, who’s also featured in the photo for the article, was hitting .205/.293/.320 with two homers, 16 RBI, 14 runs, and four stolen bases with 43 strikeouts in 140 plate appearances going into Thursday’s game with the Mariners. We then had one of the best games of his career, hitting three home runs on his way to a seven-RBI night. Maybe it will be a turning point for Story. McGee, who was supposed to be a late-game staple for the Giants, hurt his back and is currently on the IL. Before that happened, he had an ERA of 9.58, which is high even for Rockies standards.

Rockies TV reporter Kelsey Wingert recovering after being hit in head by foul ball | Denver Post ($)

The newest member of AT&T Sportsnet’s Rockies broadcast team got “Internal and external stitches” in her head after being hit by a line drive on Monday, but says she is doing ok. Wingert was hit by a pitch in 2018 while covering the Braves and suffered a broken right eye socket. This is scary stuff and we’re all so grateful she’s ok.

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On the Farm

Triple-A: Albuquerque Isotopes 13, Salt Lake Bees 8

Elehuris Montero hit his eighth homer of the season as part of a 4-for-6 night with two RBI, and four runs scored, while every Isotope in the lineup got at least one hit as part of a 17-hit night. Scott Schebler went 3-for-5 with three runs scored and an RBI, Coco Montes had a three-RBI night bolstered by a two-run double, Ryan Vilade went 2-for-5 with two RBIs and a double, and D.J. Peterson added two RBI. Brandon Gold improved to 2-0 after giving up three runs on five hits with three walks and four strikeouts in five innings.

Double-A: Hartford Yard Goats 5, Bowie Baysox 4

Daniel Cope hit the game-winning homer, a solo shot in the top of the ninth, to lift the Yard Goats over the Baysox for their fourth straight win. Brenton Doyle hit his fifth homer of the year, a two-run shot in the fourth inning, and Ezequiel Tovar went 3-for-5 with a double and a run scored to lead Hartford. Despite a rough start for Noah Gotsis, who gave up three runs in the first inning, Fineas Del Bonta-Smith entered with three scoreless innings to fuel a solid bullpen effort that only surrendered one run on three hits with four strikeouts over the final eight innings.

High-A: Eugene Emeralds 6, Spokane Indians 5

After falling behind 4-0 in the top of the first, Spokane rallied to get back in the game when Benjamin Sems and Zac Veen both hit solo homers in the third inning. Daniel Montano added an RBI single in the fourth and a sac fly in the sixth, and Drew Romo grounded out with the bases loaded in the eighth, but the Indians still remained one run behind. Evan Shawver (0-2) took the loss, giving up five runs on eight hits in four innings, but did strike out nine.

Low-A: Fresno Grizzlies 8, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes 4

Fresno jumped out to a 5-0 lead after two innings with help from a three-run homer from AJ Lewis and never looked back on Thursday night. Braxton Fulford later added a two-run home run and Juan Guerrero chipped in a solo shot to help the Grizzlies overcome a four-running inning by the Quakes in the fifth. Jarrod Cande got the win after entering the game in the fifth inning and throwing four scoreless innings, giving up only four hits while striking out five.

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