No matter what the standings show, there is still plenty for the Rockies to achieve in the waning days of the 2022 schedule. (First things first: this doesn’t include losing exclusively.)
Players like Ezequiel Tovar are looking to prove themselves in valuable times of development. The Rockies can disrupt the Dodgers’ momentum in the final six games of the regular season. Young starters and relief pitchers can further their candidacies before spring training.
There is value on the other side of the spectrum, too: the unfortunate ‘losing’ side. The outcome won’t be fortunate until mid-July of 2023, but it could change the direction of the franchise in a mere nine games.
If the regular season ended today, the Rockies would hold the eighth-overall pick in the 2023 draft:
MLB Draft Order: Through September 26, 2022
With nine games remaining, the Rockies can conclude the 2023 season with a winning percentage as high as .457 or as low as .401. This puts them in a draft range anywhere between sixth and twelfth:
The order is subject to the finishes of other teams, of course, but the general motion of all clubs should keep the Rockies in the general area of pick number six-through-ten.
Tanking Doesn’t Exist
Players like Tovar or Gavin Hollowell have no reason to take it easy with nine games remaining, nor does anybody else on the Rockies’ roster. For a baseball team to actively lose games for a draft pick, this would require players disregarding any money they could make in arbitration or in free agency, much less the playing time they wish to earn moving forward.
Perhaps the most viable way for a baseball team to ‘tank’ is for a manager to intentionally roll out an inferior lineup — something that would jeopardize the future employment of said managers with already-losing teams. It would likely take a directive from a front office for this strategy to actually happen; that alone would challenge the manager’s responsibility to stand up for their players, creating a perhaps-irreconcilable rift between dugout personnel and executives.
(This is not meant to accuse anybody, of course; this is simply to stress that tanking is not exactly viable in practice.)
If there is such thing as loss-induced burnout, it will likely fall on teams in line for a top-10 pick anyways. It is presumably easier for winning teams to stay motivated through the finish; with the end in sight, the directive of ‘finishing strong’ is far easier for some clubs.
Maybe the Tovar call-up is plenty to fire up a team through the finish line.
How Much Money?
If a draft range of sixth through twelfth is assumed, the Rockies can expect a slot value as high as $6.04 million or as low as $4.59 million next year for their first-overall pick (using 2022 dollar figures). There are only six Rockies players making more than $4.59 million this year, so a seven-figure range is a large sum of money with nine games to decide how big it can be.
This doesn’t assume the Rockies will spend that much on their first-overall selection next summer, however. Pitcher Gabriel Hughes was drafted 10th overall this year, signing for an even $4 million. The Gonzaga product was secured for nearly $1 million under slot value.
(This move allowed the Rockies some better spending abilities later in the draft, so it isn’t to say $1 million was ‘pocketed’ by any means.)
How Much ‘True’ Value?
If we took the Rockies’ potential draft range in 2023 and pasted it into the 1992 draft class, this would mean Derek Jeter would be available at pick number six. There were still some great names in that draft beyond Jeter (like Todd Helton at pick 55, to the... Padres?!), but the outcome of just nine games on the schedule could be the difference between the Rockies hypothetically landing a first-ballot Cooperstown inductee.
If only it were always this clear: see 2006 MLB Draft.
The Rockies landed Zac Veen with the ninth-overall pick in the 2020 draft. Originally touted as high as fifth-overall, it is safe to reason the Rockies wouldn’t have landed him if they drafted at pick 12.
The ‘Likely’ Draft Placement?
Here are the remaining games on the Rockies’ schedule:
- Three games (Tuesday-Thursday) @ SF
- Six games (Friday-Wednesday) @ LAD
The Giants are within striking distance of a .500 record to end the season, while the Dodgers could easily end the year with 110 wins.
It will be ambitious to assume the Rockies will end the year in L.A. on a high note, but it’s also worth noting the Dodgers don’t really have anything left to prove in the regular season. They have five more wins than the AL-best Astros, and with home-field advantage all but secured through the World Series, it would make sense for L.A. manager Dave Roberts to spend the final regular-season games stacking his deck for the postseason.
(Maybe this means Julio Urías throws... one fewer inning? Perhaps this means Mookie Betts will get subbed out a little sooner or something.)
If the Rockies go 1-2 against the Giants in this upcoming road series, and if they can muster two wins in six games against the Dodgers (finishing the year 3-6), this would mean Colorado finishes the season with a .420 winning percentage. One fewer win would mean a .413 figure.
Both percentages would keep the Rockies at pick number eight. It will take some wins by both the Marlins and Royals to make the sixth-overall selection a reality.
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We are weeks away from staring out the window and waiting for spring, as Rogers Hornsby once said. Our friends Kevin Henry and Noah Yingling at Rox Pile present, in podcast form, a breakdown on what we might expect from Rockies general manager Bill Schmidt through the offseason — and how our insights could be more thorough than before. “Unlike his predecessor, [Schmidt] is fairly open with the media on things,” says Yingling.
As mentioned above, the Rockies have eight games remaining, with three coming against the near-.500 San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park. The Giants currently hold a 75-78 record and will need to finish 6-3 to end the year with an even 81-81 record.
At 65-88, the Rockies will not be able to catch the Giants in the NL West standings. Colorado could theoretically catch Arizona (71-83), but it will take a serious cold streak by the Diamondbacks for that to become attainable.
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On the Farm
Triple-A: Albuquerque Isotopes 15, El Paso Chihuahuas 4
The Isotopes hosted the Padres’ Triple-A affiliate on Monday, breaking the standard trend of Monday off days for all minor league affiliates. Albuquerque has two dates remaining on the 2022 regular-season schedule: tonight and Wednesday.
Monday action was an offensive parade, as every hitter for Albuquerque recorded a hit.
Brenton Doyle’s 2-for-5 showing featured a team-leading five RBI on the night, while Coco Montes had himself a 1-for-3, two-walk performance, plating two runs himself. Wynton Bernard, Sam Hilliard and Bret Boswell also had multiple hits, helping the Isotopes finish the night 15-for-38 at the plate.
Just days after being sent down to Triple-A, Noah Davis carved his way through 4 2⁄3 innings. He allowed one run, lowering his Triple-A ERA to a 1.93, while Zach Neal allowed one earned run in the 4 1⁄3 innings that remained.
Double-A: Hartford Yard Goats (COL) season concluded on Sept. 18 (Final record: 34-34)
High-A: Spokane Indians (COL) season concluded on Sept. 11 (Final record: 30-36)
Low-A: Fresno Grizzlies (COL) season concluded on Sept. 20 (Final record: 42-24)
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