The 2023 Colorado Rockies season has drawn to a close as the team shambled to the finish line with a 59-103 overall record, going 10-19 through the final 29 games of the season. However, of the bright spots in a difficult campaign, Nolan Jones’ star shone the brightest as he sent the season out with a bang.
Jones was without a doubt the Rockies’ most valuable player in the final month of the season. If there was an offensive category, it would be a pretty safe bet to guess he lead the team—and even most qualified rookies—in that category over the final 29 games of the year.
In September Jones led the Rockies in hits, home runs, RsBI, total bases walks, stolen bases, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS. He led the Rockies in advanced metrics like Isolated Power (ISO), Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP), Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA), Base Running Runs Above Average (BsR), and park-adjusted Weighted Runs Created (wRC+).
Jones also led the pack in FanGraphs’ measure of Wins Above Replacement and it wasn’t particularly close. Per FanGraphs Jones was worth 1.9 fWAR for September, while the next best figure was the 0.7 posted by fellow rookie Brenton Doyle.
Nolan Jones - September 2023 Batting
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Outside of his impressive offense, Nolan Jones took the opportunity in September to pad his defensive resume. Jones finished the season with an MLB-best 19 outfield assists, and he tallied seven of them in September. Seven outfield assists would be good enough to place him in the top 30 among all major league outfielders for the entire season, and Jones accomplished it in just 29 games.
Obviously another money throw by Rockies Nolan Jones. Not to be missed is the blind backside tag by Brendan Rodgers. The key is the quick one handed sweep tag while positioning his body so he catches the ball close to the base & the sliding runner. pic.twitter.com/k9S2b7ZSuq— Jerry Weinstein (@JWonCATCHING) October 1, 2023
Jones finished the season as one of the best defensive corner outfielders in the league with 10 DRS, all while learning a new position away from his native third base. Unfortunately Rawlings dictates that outfielders must play 698 innings for their team by the 138th game of the season, and Jones just barely missed out with approximately 671 innings.
Nolan Jones’ major late season accolade came from utilizing his explosive September in order to become the first player in franchise history to have 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases in their rookie season. It went down to the wire, as Jones captured the final tally of each in the very last game of the season.
... and 20 stolen bases in a season. pic.twitter.com/J4KOKq90fj— Thomas Harding (@harding_at_mlb) October 1, 2023
The 20/20 rookie season Is an exclusive club with only 15 other members, and Jones is the only one to do it while logging under 130 games and 425 plate appearances during the season. Seven members of this club took home their respective league’s Rookie of the Year Honors, while all but one member prior to the 2023 placed top five in voting. Although Corbin Carroll of the Arizona Diamondbacks has this year’s National League Rookie of the Year award all but locked up, it wouldn’t be surprising for Jones to bring home his share of votes.
When the Rockies traded with the Cleveland Guardians to obtain Nolan Jones, he was somewhat of an unknown quantity due to limited big league playing time. Jones had just made his debut the season before and the Rockies parted with a solid second base prospect in Juan Brito to acquire him. Additional eyebrows were raised when the Guardians’ former top prospect didn’t make the Opening Day roster after struggling in spring training. However, Jones promptly caught fire with the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes, which had Rockies fans chomping at the bit to see him at Coors Field.
Despite a frustrating and often miserable overall season, Rockies fans were rewarded with one of the best rookie seasons in franchise history wrapped up nicely with an excellent final month. Despite not being called up until late May, Nolan Jones delivered on all of his promise in spades and everyone should be extremely excited for his future with the organization.
★ ★ ★
MLB.com’s Ben Weinrib called unranked Rockies right-handed pitching prospect Juan Mejia “the game’s most dominant pitcher” after the Salt River Rafters bested the Glendale Desert Dogs on Monday night. Mejia pitched 1 1⁄3 innings with all four outs being recorded via strikeout.
Thomas Murray over at Rox Pile predicts three members of the 2023 Rockies that he doesn’t expect to return for another season. One of his selections is unsurprising in utilityman Harold Castro, who had one of the worst WAR totals in the league this year. Murray also believes left-handed reliever Brent Suter—a pending free agent—will not be back next year. His most surprising pick is Elias Díaz. The soon-to-be 33-year old catcher will be a free agent after 2024 and has top prospect Drew Romo behind him and knocking at the door.
★ ★ ★
Arizona Fall League
The sole Rockies pitcher to appear in the second game of the Arizona Fall League was right-handed reliever Alec Barger from Double-A Hartford. Barger pitched 1 1⁄3 innings and gave up one hit—a home run—for one run. He struck out two batters. Catcher Drew Romo (Triple-A Albuquerque) and left fielder Sterlin Thompson (Double-A Hartford) both went 1-for-3 on the night with a walk each. Romo scored as the Rafters’ only run after drawing a walk in the bottom of the fifth inning.
★ ★ ★
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