The Rockies are in an award drought and things didn’t get better on Thursday when Major League Baseball announced the Silver Slugger Award finalists.
There were zero Rockies on the list of nominees for the league’s best offensive player at each position. With three to four finalists for infield positions, the utility category, and the designated hitter category, and seven outfielders in the National League alone, to not have a Rockie on the list says a lot.
The power surge in Colorado is real. In the most hitter-friendly environment with a gigantic outfield and thin air aiding homer flight, the Rockies couldn’t even finish in the top three at any position.
The Rockies haven’t had a Silver Slugger winner since 2019 when Trevor Story won the award for his 35 homers, 85 RBI, and .971 OPS. At least the Rockies had finalists in 2022 (Brendan Rodgers at second base and Charlie Blackmon and designated hitter) and 2021 (Germán Márquez in the last year of NL pitchers hitting). In 2023, nothing.
The Rockies have now gone four seasons in a row without a Silver Slugger winner, which is the longest drought in team history. Before this, Colorado only had eight seasons with no Silver Slugger honoree. There were only two times when the Rockies had back-to-back Silver Sluggerless seasons and that was in their first two years (1993-94) and 2004-05.
In the Rockies 31 years of existence, they have had 32 Silver Slugger winners. The Rockies have had three Silver Sluggers twice in one season (1996 and 2018) and they have had two winners eight times (1995, 1997, 2001, 2002, 2010, 2015, 2016, 2017).
Todd Helton and Nolan Arenado are the franchise’s all-time leaders in Silver Slugger trophies with four apiece, while Vinny Castilla and Matt Holliday each won three.
Zooming out to the bigger awards, the Rockies have only had one MVP (Larry Walker in 1997). They haven’t had an NL Manager of the Year since 2009 (Jim Tracy), a Major League or National League Player of the Year since 2010 (Carlos González), a Tony Gwynn Award winner (NL leader in batting average) since 2017 (Blackmon), a Mell Ott Award winner (NL leader in homers) since 2018 (Arenado), and a Lou Brock Award winner (NL leader in stolen bases) since 2020 (Story).
The Rockies have been fairly consistent with Gold Glove winners throughout franchise history, which is fantastic, but where are the Rockies big bats in the last few years?
When you look at the Rockies dreadful record since their back-to-back playoff appearances in 2017 and 2018, the lack of awards makes sense. Shipping out Arenado and letting Story walk, matched with an aging Blackmon and the team’s biggest contract going to Kris Bryant, who has hit 15 homers in 122 games in his two seasons in Colorado, it’s no wonder the awards aren’t flooding in.
In the Rockies first 24 seasons, they had 11 players who finished with the best batting average in the NL. Since Blackmon did it in 2017, the closest the Rockies have come to having a Tony Gwynn Award winner was when Arenado finished No. 5 in 2019 when he hit .315 (Blackmon was No. 6 at .314).
Since then, it’s gotten worse each year. Raimel Tapía hit .321 to finish No. 7 in 2020 No. 7, C.J. Cron finished 14th in 2021 (.281), and Rodgers finished No. 22 at .266. In 2023, Elias Díaz had the highest average of qualified players (at least 502 at-bats) for the Rockies at .267, ranking No. 32 in the NL. At least Díaz became the first Rockie to win the All-Star Game MVP in 2023 to bring home some kind of award.
According to Baseball Savant, Coors Field has the highest park factor from 2021-2023 at 112 (100 is average). With runs at 125, OBP at 110, singles at 113, doubles at 122, triples at 204, and homers at 108, Coors Field gives a measurable advantage to Rockies hitters who play half their games there. Even with a head start, the Rockies still aren’t winning awards. Or in some cases, even making the finalist list.
Maybe Rodgers or Nolan Jones or a huge season from Ryan McMahon or Bryant can snap the silver-less streak next year. The Rockies need someone to do it.
When MLB announces the 2023 Gold Glove winners on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. MT on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight, hopefully, the Rockies will have a winner. It could really help Colorado’s award morale if Brenton Doyle is rightfully honored for his amazing work in center field.
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The Rockies have a big to-do list in the 2023 offseason, but it mostly revolves around somehow acquiring more starting pitching. Last offseason, the Rockies stuck gold when they traded Juan Brito for Nolan Jones. Since draft picks take a long time to develop and free agent pitchers don’t tend to want to sign in Colorado, Thomas Harding sums up the Rockies goals perfectly: “The goal this offseason is to make a Jones-esque trade, but for a pitcher rather than a position player.” Harding also walks readers through a variety of other potential roster improvements the team could make.
Green Day is hitting many MLB ballparks on its Savoirs tour in 2024 and one of those is Coors Field. The pop-punk band will be playing at Coors Field on Sept. 7 with opening acts the Smashing Pumpkins, Rancid, and the Linda Lindas. Tickets go on sale Nov. 10.
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Arizona Fall League
Sterlin Thompson was the only Rockies prospect in action on Thursday and he represented the organization well. He singled and scored an insurance run in the top of the ninth inning, helping the Rafters secure a 5-3 victory. Thompson finished the night going 1-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout. The game was pretty sloppy in the field with seven total errors, including one from Thompson as one of Salt River’s four errors. Thompson is hitting .342 with an OPS of .950 in the Arizona Fall League. With the win, the Rafters improved to 14-13 with one week of the regular season remaining before the postseason starts on Nov. 10.
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