Dick Monfort has been known to give ambitious predictions for his team prior to the start of the new season. The pinnacle of the Monfort prediction was for the 2020 Rockies to improve on their 71-91 2019 record and to win 94 games. That season, the Rockies had a winning percentage of .433 in the shortened season, equivalent to a 70 win season in a regular 162 games. Safe to say, Monfort’s prediction did not come to pass.
94 wins for the #Rockies in 2020? Team owner Dick Monfort thinks it will happen: https://t.co/v227CJmo8Y pic.twitter.com/fxX3FBV0Ns— MLB Trade Rumors (@mlbtraderumors) February 1, 2020
With the upcoming 2023 season, Monfort provided his expectations for next year, stating he thinks the Rockies can be a .500 ballclub next season. A high standard only set by a club with one World Series appearance and zero division titles in their 30 years of existence. Can the Rockies improve by 14 wins this year to be a .500 team next year? Here are a few improvements from last year’s roster needs to do for the Rockies to boost their record in 2023.
“I think we can play .500 ball.”#Rockies owner Dick Monfort speaking in Greeley at the Breakfast of Champions event.— Patrick Lyons (@PatrickDLyons) January 28, 2023
Healthy Kris Bryant
The biggest acquisition for the Rockies this season isn’t necessarily a new player. Their big acquisition prior to last season was limited to just 42 games in his first season wearing purple pinstripes. Despite the limited time on the field, Bryant slashed .306/.376/.475 including five home runs and an OPS+ of 127 (100 is league average). Bryant’s OBP of .376 would was 26 points higher than the next closest in Yonathan Daza at .349 in 113 games. Likewise, CJ Cron, the Rockies lone All-Star last season led the team in OPS+ at 107, meaning Bryant’s 127 would have been 20% higher. Although his numbers from last year are not a big sample size compared to players that played most of the season, the chart below shows KB’s career numbers in these statistics too.
Kris Bryant Career Stats
|162 Game Avg.||162||703||603||108||168||38||3||30||88||8||3||80||164||0.279||0.376||0.503||0.879||132|
As we can see from the chart, KB’s career OPS+ is 132 and an OBP of .382, both similar to what he had in those 42 games last season. While some degression is expected now that Bryant is headed into his age 31 season, the consistent ability to get on base and hit for power has always been part of his game. So what would a full season of a health Kris Bryant bring to the Rockies lineup? Well for one, it makes the lineup deeper adding another another power hitter in the mix. In 2023, the Rockies ranked were ranked 22nd in the league for total home runs, while playing 81 games in the hitter-friendly confines of Coors Field, that’s not going to cut it. Bryant may be able to provide at least 20-30 more home runs depending on health and provide protection to other batters such as CJ Cron and Charlie Blackmon. Likewise, the Rockies ranked 14th in OBP in the league and 22nd in base on balls. KB adds another element to getting on base that the Rockies lacked last year. Bryant walked 17 times in 42 games last year and 62 times in his last full season in 2021, meaning his patience at the plate will be welcomed to a lineup that did not walk much. Reports out of the Rockies says Bryant is fully healed and ready for spring training.
Bounce back year from Márquez and Gomber
Germán Márquez represented the hosts at the 2021 All-Star Game but started 2022 off struggling. As the ace of the lineup, the Rockies need a bounce-back and consistent year on the mound from Márquez. The rotation has fallen off since their prime during the Rockies back-to-back playoff appearances and does not seem to be as big of an strength as it once was. Last season was the first full season Márquez posted an ERA+ under the league average of 100 and his lowest since his first six games in 2016. Previously, he posted ERA+ around 110 in every full season since 2017, and will need to get back to that level in 2023 for any improvement for the Rockies’ record. Another stat that was worrisome last year was the number of long balls Márquez surrendered last year, a career-high 30 home runs. That number was nine more than 2021 and the most since 29 in 2019. The best way to keep runs scored against Márquez and to keep the ball in the ballpark, is to get back to his usual strikeouts. His SO/9 innings was the lowest of his career at 7.4, nearly a full strikeout less than his career low for a full season (8.2 in 2017). Thus the best way to get a better year from the Rockies’ ace is to limit home runs, keep runners of base, and getting more strikeouts which help both of these.
Germán Márquez Career Stats
At the moment, the Rockies rotation is stands with Márquez, Freeland, Ureña, Gomber, and Seabold, with expectations that Seabold will be able to step up to the challenge after only six appearances with the Red Sox the past couple seasons. While the first three starters are set in stone barring an injury, the back end is up in air. Gomber is coming off a season that had him lose his starting position, and sent to the bullpen as a cleanup reliever when games got out of hand. The season prior, he showed glimpses of success at Coors Field, but will need to get back on track to secure a starting position. Like most of the few successful Rockies season, starting pitching will a driving point to get to .500 this year.
Brendan Rodgers finally becomes a star
It has seemed since about 2018 that Brendan Rodgers has been a year away from breaking out into a star the Rockies hoped he’d be when they drafted him third overall in 2015, but Rodgers has only had two season playing over 100 games. After horrible start to the 2022 season, Rodgers found his stride at the plate and for the summer months before struggling in September. On defensive side of the field, Rodgers led all second baseman in Defensive Runs Saved (22), and third overall players, and was third in Defensive WAR (2.9). Rodgers ended up winning the Gold Glove at second base for the National League. In 2023, the Rockies will finally need to see Rodgers become a star by limiting the length of slumps and hitting for more power. In his two full season in 2021 and 2022, Rodgers has only hit 28 home runs, which the Rockies struggled with as a team last year. For the Rockies to end up as a .500 team, Rodgers will need to be a key contributor in the lineup.
Follow along next week for Part 2, where we will discuss how newcomers and changes for the 2023 season can benefit the Rockies’ quest for a .500 record. In the meantime, let us what factors can contribute to a successful season in the comments!
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No. 27 prospect Veen invited to Rockies camp | MLB.com
Rockies’ top prospect and league-wide 27th ranked prospect has received an invitation to the Big League camp to start the Spring. Ezequiel Tovar and Drew Romo were also added to the Spring Training camp by the Rockies. Veen, the Arizona Fall League Offensive Player of the Year for 2022 hit, 11 home runs and stole 50 bases with High-A Spokane before being promoted to Double-A Hartford to end the year. With his performance in the AFL, Veen has a chance to move up the farm system with a chance to break with the club to start the year, but will more likely make a debut in later in 2023.
Here are the Top 100 prospects for each team | MLB.com
The Rockies enter the 2023 season with four prospect ranked on the top 100 prospects list. For the first time since 2019, the Rockies have more than one prospect in the top 100 and the most since 2017. Ezequiel Tovar leads the top of the Rockies prospects coming in at no. 25, with the expectations of graduating from the farm system this upcoming season. This comes at no surprise after making his MLB debut at the end of last season. Closely behind, Zac Veen lands at the no. 27 spot on the list. Veen stood out in the Arizona Fall League last year after struggling to find his footing at the Double-A level to end the year. Veen is not expected to make an impact in Denver until 2024, but may get a call up late in the year if injuries plague the Big League club. Next on the list is Adael Amondor, no. 68, a shortstop that played his first full professional season last year. Rounding out the Rockies top 100 prospects is Drew Romo, a surprising catcher prospect that the Rockies’ farm system usually lacks. Romo is expected to see Major League action in 2024 while he develops the offensive prowest to his already impressive defensive skills behind the dish.
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