Every year we collect our favorite articles that we’ve written in the last calendar year in order to give our writers a chance to showcase the pieces they are most proud of—either that they wrote or one of their colleagues wrote. We try to get this published before the new year but we’re continuing a trend of getting this celebratory article out after the new year.
In addition to celebrating our writers for their hard work, this exercise serves as a helpful review of what it was like to follow the Rockies over the last year, as it happened. Sometimes it’s fun to re-live that trajectory, other times it’s more educational than anything else.
Before we get into these articles, let me just say thank you to you, our readers. This site doesn’t happen without you and we are thankful that you give us your clicks, eyes, shares, and engagement year in and year out. Purple Row has been going at this for over a decade now, and we do not take your support lightly.
With that, here are our favorite articles from 2022.
Early rumors about McGregor Square included talk about a Rockies Hall of Fame. Skyler broached the subject by hypothesizing what an initial class of inductees might look like.
I don’t know if you recall this, but there was a hot minute there where the threat of no Major League Baseball in 2022—or at least a significant loss of games—was a live possibility. Thankfully, cooler heads (and scared wallets) prevailed. But at the time it presented an interesting question: what would it be like if MLB tried to use replacement players? Evan Lang looked into the last time that (almost) happened.
In January the time seemed ripe for the Rockies to offer a contract extension to Kyle Freeland. With two years left of team control, both player and team seemed like they would be motivated to figure out, if nothing else, the immediate future. So Kenneth explored different comps and concluded “the precedent for a five-year pact that incorporates his arbitration salary with a back-loaded AAV around $14M - $15M during the player’s free agent seasons already exists and could be a good deal for both sides.”
Almost three months to the day later, the Rockies announced a new five-year, $64.5 million ($12.9 million AAV) extension with the Denver native. Sometimes predictions come true.
The Lockout sucked. Instead of getting psyched about Spring Training, we writers had to dig around for scraps of what to write. Joelle solved the problem by looking back at Denver baseball history before the Rockies arrived, from integrating baseball teams and leagues, to mining town leagues to the famous Denver Post Tournament. Here is the first of that series. Click here for Part 5 (as well as links to the other entries).
Joelle further solved the problem of #content by doing an exemplary dive into the origins of the Rockies coming to Denver. This is part one of that series. For Part 4 (and links to the other stories) click here.
The lockout took some dark turns before it got better. What would we do without major league games? Evan explored the options only to make it clear that we need to do what we can to keep baseball alive, no matter the circumstances.
The Batman represented the eighth time a Batman movie came out in theaters since the Rockies became a franchise. These are the fun intersections we find when we’re looking for things to write about without baseball games.
By the time the lockout ended, National League fans had to reckon with the loss of something dear: pitchers coming to the plate and awkwardly flailing at the ball until lightning strikes and a hit results. Skyler says goodbye by recapping the numbers—with video!
Did you know Coors Field has seen more cycles (18) than the Rockies have had three-inning saves? Robert didn’t include that particular fact but he breaks down the fascinating history of the the statistical anomaly that is the three-inning save in franchise history.
The hard-hitting analysis you crave. Complete with pretty (as in pretty awesome) graphics! Justin goes beyond mere aesthetics and draws on his own experience to break down what a pitcher wants and needs in a bullpen.
In all of baseball history, 33 batters have garnered 3,000 career hits. Four of them have achieved the milestone against the Rockies. After Miguel Cabrera joined both clubs in April, Skyler recapped this unique role the Rockies have played in MLB history.
Colorado Rockies players discuss how legalized sports betting has changed their daily lives - Sam Bradfield | May 2
Perhaps few things better characterize the changes in the sports world of the last few years better than the rise of legalized sports betting in the United States. While fantasy sports have made their impact on the field, that pales in comparison to what gambling has created. Sam talked with various players in the Rockies clubhouse about those changes.
Turns out we did get to see Wynton Bernard (read below for more) but when he won PCL Player of the Week, Justin gave him some much deserved attention.
Charlie Blackmon has spent ten years in Major League Baseball, each of them with the Colorado Rockies. Few enough players achieve the first milestone, and even fewer with one team. Only Todd Helton has done it for the Rockies. So much time can anesthetize us to just what a remarkable career it’s been for Chuck Nazty, and Skyler takes us all on the journey.
Brendan Rodgers had the benefit of playing a full season for the first time in his big league career. Not only did that lead to a Gold Glove for him, but it also gave fans and teammates to get to know him a little more. Becca got to catch up with him and get more of his story as a person, not just a player.
You know what’s fun? Stolen bases. You know what analytical orthodoxy has deemed counterproductive to run-scoring? Stolen bases. But several teams in the Rockies minor league system have bucked that trend (mostly to take advantage of experimental rule changes meant to boost SBs). And that’s fun.
Roster turnover, especially in the form of several top talents both in production and leadership, can create an identity crisis in a major league clubhouse. Mac asked the players about “How does a franchise reinvent itself and form a new leadership core from within?”
Watching the Avalanche make a run for the Stanley Cup inspired a lot of Denver sports fans and our writers were no exception. Joelle looked at the power of the hockey tradition of naming a team captain. While baseball teams rarely have designated captains, she observed “the Rockies need their own Gabe Landeskog.”
Look, there will always be “snubs” when it comes to the All-Star Game rosters. But Justin identifies a particularly glaring hole for snubs. Non-closer relievers can put up otherworldly numbers like Tyler Kinley did in the first half and still find themselves on the outside looking in. Don’t worry, Tyler: you’re an All-Star in our books.
Ryan McMahon occupies a singular place in the Rockies roster and the minds of their fans. So many of us want to see him capitalize on his obvious talent and find consistent success. Renee took a deep dive into RyMac’s numbers to see what it would look like for him to take exploit his patience into greater success at the plate.
The Rockies lineup has had many holes over the last several years (see below), but Kenneth diagnosed centerfield as a spot desperately in need of remedy. Since Charlie Blackmon moved off the 8 a few years ago, the team has gotten little meaningful production. With the largest home outfield in the majors, the need is particularly striking.
The Day After: Wynton Bernard reflects on his long-awaited first start in the major leagues - Sam Bradfield | August 14
As promised (see above). Wynton Bernard’s long journey to the major leagues prompted a very memorable debut and it was Sam’s singular joy to catch up with him to reflect on it.
One of the best parts of baseball’s long season is that, even when your team is resigned to playing out the string of games in a lost year, there are always great stories that spring up. Mac got the clubhouse reaction to Bernard’s debut.
Sometimes the headline says it all. And then you read onto the gory details and realize it only barely cracks the surface.
The Nolan Arenado wound was opened afresh in September during the former Rockies third baseman’s MVP caliber season. Rockies fans may want to move on, but the best way forward is to consider the disastrous turns of history in the context in which they happened, not just what we know now.
Remember the excitement you felt when the Rockies landed a coveted free agent with a World Series ring and an MVP trophy? Those good feelings were largely gone by September. While it’s not quite fair to blame Kris Bryant, the situation looks bad even if the front office views Bryant as a transition piece for the next great Rockies roster.
Maybe you’re like many of us at Purple Row and you are looking forward to this spring’s edition of the World Baseball Classic, though it comes two years later than originally intended. Players and national teams began announcing participation during the season and since then the Rockies’ contingent of representatives in the tournament has only grown. Mac got to talk to some of those players who already knew and how their teammates responded.
Weekend Reflection: Ezequiel Tovar reflects on his ‘unexpected’ MLB debut - Sam Bradfield | September 27
There’s nothing quite like a big league debut. Sam got to catch up with Ezequiel Tovar after his debut. Again, well worth the read.
The Colorado Avalanche raised their third championship banner in team history on October 12. That prompted Evan Lang to reflect on the differences in trajectories of the two young franchises and what it might look like for the Rockies to look toward their be-skated neighbors for inspiration.
Watching the postseason can often be hard for fans of teams that finished closer to last than first. But we’ve had some good October times! Paul digs into the numbers to find the best individual performances in Rockies postseason history.
If you’re like me you love a good crossover, especially one that combines two great things, like Rockies baseball and Hamilton. When it came to writing about Alan Trejo’s season, Renee took inspiration from both.
Most people remember the NL MVP debate as being between Jeff Kent and Barry Bonds. But how did Helton fall so far out of the conversation? And did he deserve to be higher? While Helton’s Hall of Fame chances are looking better by the day, Paul wonders how Helton being overlooked here has made it easier for HOF voters to overlook him now.
Germán Márquez will long be a legend in Denver for his exploits on the mound—eight strikeouts to start a game, pitching in the All-Star game hosted at Coors Field, extended streaks of utter dominance—but 2022 will likely be one to forget for him. Paul breaks down the Venezuelan’s up-and-down campaign.
The Rockies have always been lovable losers, so why have recent seasons been so hard to care about? - Paul Elliott | December 13
It’s been tough to be a fan of purple pinstripes recently, but the growing apathy has to go beyond mere poor results in the standings, right? Paul asks the hard hitting questions and goes so far as to look for a reasonable answer.
Several of our writers noted how much they enjoyed Mario DeGenz’ “Crafting a Gameplan” series. In each article Mario took a deep dive into the arsenal of a given pitcher (or group of pitchers) and tried to figure out “what he does well, what he doesn’t do as well, his general profile, and gameplan/pitch mix related things I believe he could change for the better.” This entry on Kyle Freeland contains links for breakdowns on Antonio Senzatela, Germán Márquez, Austin Gomber, Ryan Feltner, and the Rockies bullpen. It is an understatement to say these are well worth your time.
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Once again, thank you for reading. Here’s to 2023! May it bring more wins than 2022.