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Evaluating the Colorado Rockies defense by Fielding Run Value

Colorado Rockies news and links for Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Last week, MLB researcher Mike Petriello tweeted this:

I really enjoy considering defensive metrics, so I was eager to see what this one would show. Below is my first attempt to work with this data, so bear with me while I do some sorting, and I hope you’ll share your conclusions in the comments.

What is “Fielding Run Value?”

That seems like a good starting point.

According to Baseball Savant, “Fielding Run Value” is “Statcast’s metric for capturing a player’s measurable defensive performance by converting all of Statcast’s individual defensive metrics from different scales onto the same run-based scale, which can then be read as a player being worth X runs above or Y runs below average.” FRV takes into account Outs Above Average, Fielder Throwing Runs, Catcher Blocking, Catcher Framing, and Catcher Throwing.

So, FRV (as I understand it) attempts to bring everything together to measure a player’s total defensive performance. Use this data, then, to compare those who play similar positions (e.g., outfielders) as well as those who play very “unsimilar” positions, say, catchers with center fielders, in terms of measuring their overall performance.

What does the data show?

I decided to focus on 2021-2023. Including 2020 seemed a bit pointless, and this data should allow us to focus on defensive adjustments or regressions that we’ve seen in players who are or were recently Rockies. However, the data goes back to 2016.

Also, keep in mind that the 2023 data is incomplete given that much of the season remains.

As a starting point, the best player in MLB as measured by FRV is Austin Hedges (11) followed by Joey Weimar (10).

First, here are the Rockies’ 2021 defensive performances as measured by Baseball Savant’s Fielding Run Value.

This chart shows the Rockies Fielding Run Leaderboard for 2021. Ryan McMahon has the highest FRV with 9 followed by Elias Díaz with 7. At the bottom, Trevor Story has an FRV of -5 while Charlie Blackmon’s is -8.
The Rockies Fielding Run Leaderboard for 2021
Baseball Savant

Now, here’s 2022, again, according to Baseball Savant:

This table ranks the 2022 Rockies defenders by Fielding Run Value. Ran McMahon has the highest score with 7, followed by Brian Serven with 5. At the bottom are Randal Grichuk with -4 and Elias Díaz with -6.
The Rockies Fielding Run Leaderboard for 2022
Baseball Savant

And finally, here’s what Baseball Savant has found in 2023 through the end of the New York Yankees series:

This table ranks the 2023 Rockies by Fielding Run Values. Brenton Doyle has the highest ranking with 7 followed by Ryan McMahon at 6. At the bottom are Kris Bryant with -5 and Jurickson Profar with -9.
The Rockies Fielding Run Leaderboard for 2023
Baseball Savant

So, what does it mean?

Here are some conclusions that stood out to me.

  • Brenton Doyle is the best center fielder the Rockies have had in awhile — In 2021, Garrett Hampson had an FRV of 6, the highest score of a Rockies center fielder since 2016 when FRV data begins. (Before Hampson, Rockies center fielders had negative values.) Hampson’s was a good achievement. Brenton Doyle, however, is on track to surpass it. In fact, not only is Doyle’s value already higher than Hampson’s was in 2016, but he is also tied with Ryan McMahon in leading all Rockies defenders. (If Doyle continues to be this effective, he is a clear Gold Glove candidate.)
  • Outfielders who are not Brenton Doyle have struggled — Randal Grichuk, Kris Bryant, and Jurickson Profar all have negative FRV scores. (Among left fielders, only Kyle Schwarber has a lower FRV at -16 than Jurickson Profar’s -9.) As for Nolan Jones, it’s clear he’s still learning a new position, a fact reflected in his negative score (but less negative than other outfielders). All of this speaks to the challenges of playing the outfield at Coors, and, again, it underscores how good Brenton Doyle has been.
  • Ryan McMahon is having another good season — Given that Ryan McMahon already has a FRV of 7, it seems reasonable to expect that he may be on track for his best season ever. Also, this may be the year that Nolan Arenado does not win the Gold Glove. (His current FRV is -2.) By the way, in terms of all defensive players in MLB, Brenton Doyle and Ryan McMahon are ranked 15th and 18th, respectively.
  • Ezequiel Tovar is good — Currently, Tovar is the third-best defender on the Rockies’ roster as measured by FRV. (He is 14th among all shortstops.) The eye test shows his effectiveness, and the numbers support that conclusion.
  • The Elias Díaz Renaissance is real — Díaz was the Rockies’ worst defender in 2022 with a FRV of -6. This year, it’s 2. Díaz has improved his game on both sides of the plate.

Final thoughts

The Colorado Rockies have prided themselves on their defense, and 2023 looks to see the team rebuilding that part of their game (despite some miscues during the Yankees series).

Also, we really need to be talking more about the defensive season Brenton Doyle is having.

Fielding Run Value is a metric I’ll be returning to as the season unfolds, and I look forward to reading your takeaways in the comments.


Coors Field Attendance

According to ESPN, 1,502,529 have attended games at Coors Field in 2023 (the end of the Yankees series and the Rockies’ 47th home game). That number ranks 13th in baseball. The average game attendance was 31,968. (Last week, the average Coors Field game attendance was 30,882.)

As a benchmark, in 2022, the average game attendance at Coors Field was 32,467.


Injury bug spreading to the Minors: “It’s called piling on” |

Thomas Harding reviews the injuries that have almost overwhelmed Rockies pitchers, including Gabriel Hughes, Jordy Vargas, and Jackson Cox. All are being examined for elbow injuries. Meanwhile, Ryan Rolison, Sam Weatherly, and Helcris Olivarez are still recovering from should surgeries. Add to that injuries suffered by the Rockies’ starting pitching staff, and the the picture is grim.

The Rockies are unsure of the causes. “We’re not doing anything differently, and historically we’ve been one of the lower organizations in terms of elbow injuries,” Bill Schmidt said. “I heard since the ‘16, ‘18 or ‘19 Draft, 60 percent of pitchers have had arm or shoulder injuries. We’ve been real diligent with all our pitchers. Sometimes things happen.”

Colorado Rockies 2023 MLB Draft Review | Baseball America ($)

According to Carlos Collazo, in drafting 13 pitchers, the Rockies were addressing a perennial issue for the team. His most interesting Day 2 and 3 draft picks? Cade Denton (6th round) and Bryson Hammer (12th round).


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