With 93 games in the books this season and 69 to go, the Rockies are headed to the post-All-Star stretch when they begin a three-game series at Milwaukee today. While the Rockies are 6.5 games back of the Wild Card standings, even with the new third spot, FanGraphs puts their chances of making the playoffs at 0.1%. In other words, a miracle is needed. While that could happen, for now, I thought it would be more fun to look at six surprising and silly stats with 42.6% of the season remaining. We’ll start with the bad and end with the better.
Starting pitching has been atrocious, but bullpen is better
From Germán Márquez’s struggles and Austin Gomber’s recession to Kyle Freeland’s continued inconsistency and Antonio Senzatela’s inability to stay healthy, the starting pitching has been bad for the Rockies. Everyone knows this and the stats show just how bad it is. The Rockies rank No. 28 in ERA as a team at 4.88, but the starters are even worse at 5.01 (the bullpen is at 4.69). While the Rockies take pride in pitching to contact and getting groundouts, the lack of strikeouts is concerning. Colorado’s pitchers have combined for 644 strikeouts. That’s the worst in baseball. It’s 100 fewer than the MLB average and 252 fewer than the MLB-best Braves.
Older pitchers are better
As we transition from bad to odd, this is just an interesting stat: The Rockies have the ninth oldest average age of pitchers in MLB at 29.4 years old. This isn’t too surprising as the core rotation is getting older and the bullpen boasts veterans like Daniel Bard (37), Jhoulys Chacín (34), Alex Colomé (33), Tyler Kinley (31), Tyle Blach (31), and José Ureña (30). outside of Chacín, who has the highest ERA on the team at 7.23, when it comes to the Rockies, usually the older a pitcher is, the better they have done this season, according to Baseball Reference.
Colorado Rockies Pitching Stats By Age
While this could be par for the course, it also shows that bringing in experienced arms could work well.
Offense successful in many areas, but not enough runs
The Rockies offense is best in baseball in the hits category at 837, and they are tied for first in batting average at .262 with Toronto. Colorado ranks No. 2 in triples with 22, fourth in on-base percentage at .325, and sixth in doubles with 165. This is not that unusual considering the Rockies play half their games in thin air and have Coors Field’s gigantic outfield to drop singles and doubles into. When it comes to runs scored and slugging percentage, however, the Rockies fall on the leaderboard. The Rockies are No. 10 in runs scored (427), ninth in slugging (.408), and seventh in OPS (.733). With the Rockies pitchers ranking third worst in MLB with 489 runs surrendered, the Rockies offense has a run differential of -62. Despite high averages and on-base percentages, the Rockies aren’t getting the job done in bringing runners home.
Fewer homers, but they sure do fly farther
The Rockies currently rank No. 22 in homers (85) in MLB between the Rays and Reds. Last season, the Rockies finished tied for 21st in homers (and 22nd in 2020), meaning that effort to have more this season, via Kris Bryant and Randall Grichuk (who have a total of 13 compared to the 19 Trevor Story and Raimel Tapia have hit), has yet to pay off. However, when the Rockies do hit homers, they fly far. Three Rockies are in MLB’s top six with the highest average distance on long bombs. Even more surprising is who leads the team and is second overall: Ryan McMahon. Even though he’s only 7 homers, they are averaging 427 each. This is farther than C.J. Cron, who is fourth at 423 feet. Rounding out the top six is Brendan Rodgers, who is tied for sixth at 417 feet. Just because we don’t get to say this often, all three are longer than Shohei Ohtani (416), Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (415), and Home Run Derby champion Juan Soto (409). Of course, the ball flies farther at altitude, but the Rockies don’t usually have this many at the top of the distance leaderboard. Last year, Cron was No. 3 at 420 and Story was No. 4 at 419. Tapia was the only other Rockie in the Top 35 (tied for 12th at 414 feet). No Rockie finished in the top 15 in 2020. Ian Desmond was best in baseball in 2019 (425) and Trevor Story and Chris Iannetta tied for the crown in 2018 (421), but you would have to go back to 2017 to find three Rockies in the top 10: Mark Reynolds (third, 419), Jonathan Lucroy (tied for fifth, 416), and Carlos González (tied for eighth, 415).
Cron stacks up nicely vs. MLB’s best
Earning his well-deserved spot on the NL All-Star team, Cron has had a heck of a season so far. He leads the Rockies in OPS (.902), slugging percentage (.552), homers (21), RBI (69), doubles (21), hits (103), runs (55), and even at-bats (346). While he was the third first baseman to enter the game and didn’t get the invite to participate in the Home Run Derby, Cron’s numbers put him in really good company, or, in some cases, above it. While Cron ranks No. 5 in the NL in home runs, his 21 homers are more than Soto, Mookie Betts, Paul Goldschmidt, and Guerrero Jr. With 69 RBI, that’s one more than Trae Turner, eight more than Giancarlo Stanton, and 10 more than Nolan Arenado. His slugging percentage is third-best in baseball, which tops Freddie Freeman, Arenado, Betts, Pete Alonso, and Manny Machado. Cron’s OPS is fourth-best in MLB, which makes it better than Soto, Machado, Arenado, Betts, Alonso, and Turner.
Better against the NL West
The NL West is tough and has been for years with the Dodgers and Giants representing the NL in the World Series six times in the last 12 years. Last year, the Rockies went 31-45 (.408) against the NL West. At the All-Star break, the Rockies were 18-23 (.439) against the Dodgers, Giants, Padres, and Diamondbacks. This year, the Rockies are an astonishing 21-18 (.538) against the NL West, including winning records against San Diego (8-3) and Arizona (6-4). They are also 4-5 vs. Los Angeles, but still struggling against San Francisco (3-6). While this is promising, the Rockies remain in fourth place in the division, 18.5 games out of first place. The Rockies have 37 games remaining against the NL West this season, including the last 16 games of the season. Tankathon ranks the Rockies have the hardest schedule remaining in MLB with a strength of schedule at .532 with 20 games against the Braves, Mets, Brewers, and Cardinals. The Rockies headed into the All-Star break on an 8-3 run. While that kind of pace isn’t sustainable, it will be a tall challenge to play .500 ball.
★ ★ ★
MLBTR ranks Rockies starter Chad Kuhl at No. 17. He’s having the best season of his career in terms of ERA (4.11) and he’s been the best starter for the Rockies. Kuhl is only costing the Rockies $3 million and will be a free agent at the end of the season. While Kuhl might be a logical trade candidate, along with other veterans if the Rockies wanted to try to build for the future, but MLBTR knows the Rockies modus operandi. “Were it not for the Rockies’ history of bizarre deadline decisions, Kuhl would probably rank higher,” write Steve Adams and Anthony Franco. “However, the Rockies regularly delude themselves into thinking they’re a couple breaks from contending and have regularly eschewed trading productive veterans even in otherwise lost seasons (see: Jon Gray and Trevor Story just last year).”
★ ★ ★
On The Farm
Thursday is the final day of the All-Star break that also extends to MiLB. On Friday, the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes (42-48) will begin a three-game series against Sugar Land Space Cowboys (38-52) and the Double-A Hartford Yard Goats (54-33) will start a three-game series at the Binghampton Rumble Ponies (33-54). The High-A Spokane Indians (43-41) will host a three-game series against Vancouver Canadians (44-39), while the Low-A Fresno Grizzlies (52-35) will travel 125 miles to Stockton to take on the Stockton Ports (32-55) beginning Friday.
★ ★ ★
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