Since 2021, C.J. Cron has quickly become one of my favorite Colorado Rockies. It’s not necessarily that he does something out of the ordinary, but it’s the fact that he is just a fun player to watch and that he’s been an under-the-radar type of player his whole career. Last season was a great bounceback from a knee injury that robbed him of a full 2020 season, and when the Rockies signed him to a two-year extension at the end of 2021, I was over the moon about the prospect of Cron’s bat in the lineup.
This season, we’ve seen Cron continue to provide solid production at the plate, becoming the first player in the National League this season to reach double-digit home runs, while also being the league leader in multi-hit games with 17. His offensive prowess inspired my own nickname I gave him, in reference to Macho Man Randy Savage’s character in Spider-Man, and a poorly edited photoshop meme I tweet each time he’s hit a home run this season. So what’s making Cron so effective this year?
Base level Cron
At the age of 32, Cron is having what could be another career year with Colorado. Entering Saturday’s double-header, he is batting .331/.378/.629 with 11 home runs, 10 doubles, a triple, and 32 RBIs through 39 games. He also has a 167 wRC+ and a wOBA of .431, both of which are career-highs for the slugger. His consistency out of the cleanup slot in the lineup has provided some much-needed offensive stability for the Rockies that they have missed the past few years.
In 2021 Cron posted an 11% walk rate, the highest in a full season of his career. There’s been a dramatic dropoff this season down to 6.1%, but that’s more in line with his career average. Strikeouts have ticked up to 24.8%, the highest it’s been for a full regular season since 2018, but Cron is still providing plenty of consistency.
The fact that there is more protection in the lineup for Cron, at least in theory, has forced pitchers to come right at him. His propensity for swinging strikes has gone down this season to 10.4%, while called strikes have gone up slightly to 16%. Cron is being more selective at the plate, focusing more on making contact and driving the ball as opposed to just drawing a walk.
Strikeouts are a bit more acceptable for a player of Cron’s makeup because you want him to put the ball in play more often than not with the expectation that he is driving in runs. Cron is putting the ball in play with authority. He’s smacking way more line drives this season, but is hitting fewer fly balls, but either way, he has a 42% hard-hit rate and a .390 BABIP. At this point, Cron is better off making contact than working an at-bat for a walk, because he is bound for more success, and the possibility of an extra-base hit.
Cron away from home
However, we do need to address the elephant in the room, his home/road splits. It’s no mystery that C.J. Cron has benefited greatly from Coors Field. In fact, he has blossomed into one of the best hitters in the game when he plays at home. At home, Cron is slashing .407/.450/.747 with 38 hits, including seven doubles, nine home runs, 26 RBIs, and has scored 24 runs. On the road, he’s hitting .211/.250/.404 with three doubles, a triple, two home runs, six RBIs, and has scored just two runs.
Cron’s struggles on the road stem from his inability to put the ball in play and make quality contact. He is hitting a groundball 50% of the time on the road and striking out 31.7% of the time to just a 1.7% walk rate. The Coors effect and troubles with pitch recognition have caused Cron to scuffle on the road. That scuffling leads to the slumps that stunt his ability to add production at the plate.
CronSaw is Ready
Overall, despite his struggles at times, Cron still provides a quality at-bat in the lineup. Entering Sunday, he has a 1.99 Win Probability Added, another career-high. His consistency is a valuable trait the Rockies need, especially this season. However, like most of the Rockies, he needs to figure out how to even things out on the road and shoot for a league-average level of production. Once he can solve that problem, only then will CronSaw truly be ready. Until then, we’ll keep enjoying his dominance at Coors Field and the overall makings of a great season.
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The pitch clock finally made its way into the Pacific Coast League recently, and Kris Bryant had the chance to experience it while on rehab with the Albuquerque Isotopes. He mentioned how it does make the game go by quicker, but that it may interrupt the rhythm and planning for batters to put together a mental plan for their at-bats. The article goes further into the data on how the pitch clock impacts the games in the minor leagues.
Since 2017, the Rockies' greatest has been their pitching, however, in 2022 things have been rough on the hill. Drew Creasman breaks down the pitching staff, their woes, and what needs to happen for this team to get better and ever hope to sniff the playoffs.
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On the Farm
The Isotopes managed to weather the sting of a four-run bottom of the eighth inning by the Bees to hold on to a 5-4 victory. Ryan Feltner started on the mound after being scratched from his start on Friday, and tossed only three innings but struck out seven and gave up two hits. Zach Neal took on the rest of the load, going 4 1⁄3 of mostly scoreless baseball. He shut down Salt Lake until he gave up the three runs in the bottom of the eighth. Nate Griep gave up one more run before he finally shut things down. Chad Smith nailed down his eighth save of the season. Wynton Bernard continued a hot season with a three-hit night, and the Isotopes banged out 10 hits as a team.
Hartford also won a nail-biter but in a less stressful fashion, thanks to strong pitching and a clutch run in the top of the eighth. Nick Bush started on the hill, allowing three runs on five hits, including two home runs while striking out five in six innings of work. The bullpen then tossed three scoreless innings, capped off by Gavin Hollowell’s fourth save of the season. The big story of the night though was Ezequiel Tovar as he continues to be a man on a mission, clubbing two home runs on the night, one in the third and one in the sixth, to give him eight on the season.
Joe Rock has had a solid season, and aside from giving up four runs in the second inning, went five strong, giving up six hits. He did struggle with his command, issuing three walks, but still had a quality outing for the team. The Spokane bullpen managed to close the door the rest of the way to win the game. The team scored nine runs on 13 hits, thanks to multi-hit nights from Zach Veen, Drew Romo, Benjamin Sims, Daniel Montano, and Julio Carreras.
Fresno dominated every aspect of this game, allowing just two hits to Rancho Cucamonga as they scored nine runs on eight hits in the shutout victory. Victor Juarez lowered his ERA down to 2.80 after allowing just a single hit in six innings while striking out seven batters. Trevor Boone helped lead the charge offensively, tallying two hits and driving in four, including a three-run shot for his second homer of the season.
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