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The Rockies offense just isn’t working

Colorado Rockies news and links for Thursday, September 1st, 2022

As they entered last night’s game against the Atlanta Braves, the Colorado Rockies were tied for the best team batting average in all of Major League Baseball. With a team average of .262, only the juggernaut Los Angeles Dodgers were keeping pace. However, there is a vast canyon of difference between the two teams. The Los Angeles Dodgers are 90-38 and are basically guaranteed the NL West crown. The Rockies are 56-74 and are quite comfortably in the basement.

If the Rockies and Dodgers have the same team batting average, and both teams are getting base hits at roughly the same pace—the Rockies have 1170 hits in 4470 at-bats, the Dodgers have 1149 in 4382—why are the two teams so far apart?

Batting average is a relatively empty stat on it’s own. It’s meaningless without context, and worthless if you’re not doing something with all those hits. The Colorado Rockies’ offense is broken. There’s no getting around that. While they have a strong batting average they suffer in basically every other meaningful offensive category. As the Rockies cruise towards the end of one of their worst records in franchise history, they are putting up one of the worst—if not the worst—full season offense in franchise history to go along with it.

2022 Rockies Standard Batting, Ranked

Category Statistic Franchise Rank Worst Season (Stat)
Category Statistic Franchise Rank Worst Season (Stat)
AVG .262 5th Worst 2021 (.249)
OBP .321 3rd Worst 2015 (.315)
SLG .402 Worst N/A
OPS .716 Worst N/A
R/G 4.45 2nd Worst 2013 (4.36)
R 578 2nd Worst 1994 (573)
H 1170 2nd Worst 1994 (1098)
2B 231 2nd Worst 1994 (206)
3B 27 Worst N/A
HR 114 Worst N/A
RsBI 552 2nd Worst 1994 (540)
SB 36 Worst N/A
BB 359 Worst N/A
SO 1014 7th Best 2019 (1503)
Statistics as of August 31, 2022

The Rockies are currently putting up their worst or second worst standard batting statistics in a full regular season, excluding the shortened 2020 campaign. Of the three categories they aren’t worst or second worst, two are still in the bottom five. Contextually even the Rockies .262 team batting average isn’t particularly good. It’s the fifth worst mark in franchise history and is only good in the context of decreasing batting averages throughout the league. The Dodgers’ matching .262 is fairly middle-of-the-road in their own franchise history.

While the Rockies are—respective to other teams—getting plenty of hits, they just aren’t doing anything with them. Runners aren’t a threat on the bases because the Rockies have stolen just 36 this season. Batters aren’t a threat with runners on because the Rockies have the second fewest RsBI in team history. The Rockies are scoring the second fewest runs per game in the history of the franchise.

The Rockies have shown diminishing returns on offense for the last five seasons. Three of the worst five Rockies seasons for AVG, OBP, and SLG have come within the last five seasons. Things are coming to a head here in 2022 with the newest feature of a struggling offense: power drain. For a team with the reputation of thriving in a hitter’s paradise, the Rockies just aren’t slugging at all. With some of the worst power numbers in franchise history, including a worst ever slugging percentage, the Rockies are likely to finish the season with the fewest home runs in 28 full seasons. They need 12 more in the final month of play to avoid this fate.

Unlike other standard marks, the Rockies hadn’t actually struggled much with the long ball in recent memory until this season. They actually hit a second-best 224 in 2019, and their five worst home run seasons before this year all came before 2007. However, the Rockies’ home run production has fallen off a cliff in 2022. Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees has almost half as many home runs individually (51) as the Rockies have as a team.

Rockies Batted Ball Results - Last Five Seasons

Season GB% LD% FB%
Season GB% LD% FB%
2022 46.9 20.8 32.3
2021 44.7 20.3 35.0
2020 41.1 22.7 36.1
2019 42.5 22.5 35.0
2018 45.9 20.9 33.2

Not coincidentally, the Rockies are also hitting a lot of ground balls. The Rockies’ current GB% of 46.9 is the highest in franchise history and the highest in the league at time of writing. They are also hitting into the second most double plays in the league, jockeying for the lead with the Washington Nationals.

After a high GB% in 2018, the Rockies’ ground ball rate improved dramatically in 2019 with their third lowest GB% over a full season. In 2021 the team’s ground ball rate surged, and it has taken another alarming jump here in 2022. The Rockies current FB% and LD% are fourth worst and sixth worst in franchise history, respectively.

Virtually every Rockies batter is hitting the ball into the dirt 40% or more of the time. Of all regular players, only Elehuris Montero, Kris Bryant, and CJ Cron are currently below that threshold. Kris Bryant only played 42 games this season.

At the end of last season I discussed how Raimel Tapia had a ground ball problem. Now that problem has spread to the whole team. The Rockies traded Tapia to the Toronto Blue Jays in the spring for fly ball power bat Randal Grichuk... who is currently on pace for his fewest home runs since his rookie season and is suffering from a career worst 52.3% ground ball rate. Meanwhile Tapia’s 50.6% ground ball rate is his lowest since 2019 and can potentially reach the career high nine home runs he hit that season. It would appear that Tapia didn’t have a ground ball problem, but rather a Colorado Rockies problem.

The Rockies’ offense isn’t just bad, it’s broken. Systematically and categorically. The Rockies need to find a successful hitting philosophy by any means possible. Be it parting ways with hitting coach Dave Magadan, a dramatic increase in research and analytics, or ideally both, it’s clear the Rockies need to figure out how to right the ship soon. The team’s 30th anniversary looms in the distance after four straight losing seasons.

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Toglia’s first MLB home run ‘pretty special’ |

Let’s balance out the negative with a bit of positive. Rockies top first base prospect Michael Toglia (no. 11 PuRP) hit his first big league home run in last night’s loss to the Braves. Toglia, who also earned his first MLB hit last night, struck the blow against longtime foe and current Braves closer Kenley Jansen. The ball just squeaked over the outfield wall.

“Going around second, I knew it — I looked up at my family and saw them hugging,” Toglia said following the game.

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On The Farm

Triple-A: Sugar Land Space Cowboys 8, Albuquerque Isotopes 6

Isotopes starter Brandon Gold lasted just three innings against the Space Cowboys while giving up six earned runs on seven hits and four walks. He gave up a home run in the first inning and failed to strike out a single batter. Ty Blach was credited with the loss while giving up one earned run on three hits and a walk over 2 13 innings. Blach struck out three batters . JD Hammer gave up a solo home run as one of two hits in his 1 23 innings of work. Zach Lee was the only Isotopes pitcher to not allow an earned run. Offensively, the Isotopes scored six runs on nine hits, while also drawing seven walks. They had plenty of opportunities to score, but went just 6-for-19 with RISP. Dom Nuñez and Sam Hilliard both had multi-hit games while Nuñez and Wynton Bernard both plated two RsBI. The Isotopes’ best scoring inning came in the top of the fourth, when they tied the Space Cowboys 6-6 with a three run inning. Unfortunately the Space Cowboys retook the lead in the bottom of the frame and never looked back.

Double-A: Hartford Yard Goats 7, Reading Fightin Phils 5

Mitchell Kilkenny gave up four runs on nine hits during his six inning start for the Yard Goats while striking out only one batter. Austin Kitchen gave up a solo home run in the seventh inning to lose the lead in 23 of an inning. Blair Calvo was credited with the win while striking out three batters and giving up just one hit over 2 13 scoreless innings of work. It’s Calvo’s fourth win of the season. The Yard Goats scored seven runs on eight hits with three multi hit nights. Grant Lavigne, Brenton Doyle, and Willie MacIver all went 2-for-4, with Doyle and Julio Carreras also driving in two runs each. Doyle struck a two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth, his 18th of the season, while Grant Lavigne hit his fourth via a solo shot in the seventh.

High-A Game 1: Vancouver Canadians 6, Spokane Indians 4

The Spokane Indians dropped game one of their double header 6-4 with starting pitcher Joe Rock allowing all six of those runs across his 4 23 innings of work. Rock gave up six hits—including a home run—and walked four batters. Anderson Pilar pitched the final 2 13 innings while striking out two batters and giving up one hit. Catcher Hunter Goodman went 2-for-3 with a double and scored twice, while Colin Simpson went 3-for-3 with three RsBI and a home run in the second inning. Mateo GIl also had a 2-for-3 day.

High-A Game 2: Vancouver Canadians 5, Spokane Indians 4

No multi-hit games were had in the second game of the Indians’ double header, but the Indians did score four runs on six hits. Yorvis Torrealba—freshly promoted from Low-A—had a hit and scored. Eddy Diaz plated two of the Indians’ four runs with a double in the third inning. Reliever Anderson Amarista had the start for Spokane and pitched four innings and allowed four runs (three earned). He gave up four hits, including two home runs, and had two walks and strikeouts apiece. Adam McKillican pitched two innings while giving up one earned run on three hits and a walk.

Low-A: Fresno Grizzlies 15, Modesto Nuts 8

For their 20th win in the month of August, the Fresno Grizzlies scored 15 runs at Chukchansi Park to outpace the Modesto Nuts. Starting pitcher Cullen Kafka was having a very strong start until disaster struck late in his outing. Through his first five frames, Kafka gave up just just two runs while striking out five batters. Things fell apart in the sixth, where he gave up six straight base hits and got dinged for six runs with one out. Tyler Ras finished the sixth but did allow two inherited runners to score. Ever Moya and Sergio Sanchez pitched the final three innings without allowing a run, and Sanchez struck out five in his two innings of work. Offensively, Benny Montgomery, AJ Lewis, and Yanquiel Fernandez were the stars of the show. Montgomery went 4-for-5 with four RsBI, a home run, and a double. Fernandez went 3-for-5 with three RsBI and a home run of his own. The Montgomery and Fernandez home runs came back-to-back as part of a six run seventh inning for the Grizzlies. AJ Lewis also went 3-for-5 with a home run coming in the fourth inning and a team-leading five RsBI. Jordan Beck enjoyed a 2-for-4 night and scored a run while Juan Guerrero was 2-for-4 with an RBI and scored twice. The only starter to not have a hit was Juan Brito. The Grizzlies put up ten combined runs in the sixth and seventh, batting around the order in both innings.

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