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Rockies have double whammy homer problems

Colorado Rockies news and links for Friday, July 7, 2023

Homers have always been associated with the Colorado Rockies. There are good reasons for this—the thin air that makes balls fly farther, reduced movement on pitches, the Blake Street Bombers, challenges in luring pitches to sign with Colorado—and several adjustments the team has made to adjust like the humidor, the Bridich Barrier, finding pitchers who produce mostly grounders, and more.

Throughout the 30-year history of the organization, the Rockies are mostly known for giving up their fair share of homers. In four different seasons, the Rockies have given up the most homers in MLB and they’ve finished in the lower third of the league 16 times. There have been seasons when Colorado pitchers were able to limit homers as the Rockies gave up the third fewest in MLB in 2006 and fifth fewest in 2009.

At the plate, the Rockies have finished in the top five in home runs in four seasons and in the top third 14 times. There have also been seasons when the Rockies had power outages, like in 2006 when they finished 26th in home runs and 25th in 2000.

If the Rockies concede that opposing teams will always hit homers, then logic would follow with loading the lineup with power to win out in slugfests. If that doesn’t work out, then the pitching staff has to keep the homers down. The last thing the team can afford to do is have pitchers giving up an absurd amount homers and an offense that isn’t hitting very many.

That’s exactly what’s happening this season and it’s on track to be the worst combination of homers surrendered without a counterpunch offensively in team history.

So far this season, the Rockies have given up the most homers in MLB at 131, or 1.59 per game (one about every 23 at-bats). That’s significantly more than the Cubs, who have given up the fewest home runs at 83 at 0.97 per game. (Coors Field isn’t the major factor either because the Rockies have actually given up more home runs on the road with 67 than at home with 64.)

Instead of neutralizing homer barrages with their own bombs, the Rockies are No. 27 in MLB with 78 homers, which equals 0.89 homers per game. Atlanta is best in MLB at 1.93 homers per game with a total of 166. Every other team in NL West has at least 1.17 homers per game, and the Dodgers are No. 2 in MLB at 1.59. Not the Rockies. They are averaging hitting one homer per 38.14 at-bats.

The Rockies have never played a season where both homers hit and homers given up rank so poorly at the same time. Both columns have been trending in the wrong direction since 2018, when the Rockies hit the 8th most homers (210), while being tied for 14th in homers surrendered (184). That’s also the last time the Rockies went to the playoffs.

Rockies Homer History

Year HRs hit MLB # HRs Given Up MLB #
Year HRs hit MLB # HRs Given Up MLB #
2023 78 27th 131 30th
2022 149 22nd 184 T-21st
2021 182 T-21st 196 T-15th
2020 63 22nd 83 25th
2019 224 15th 270 29th
2018* 210 8th 184 T-14th
2017* 192 21st 190 9th
2016 204 10th 181 T-12th
2015 186 7th 183 28th
2014 186 2nd 173 30th
2013 159 15th 136 7th
2012 166 13th 198 T-28th
2011 163 12th 176 26th
2010 173 8th 139 T-8th
2009* 190 7th 141 5th
2008 160 17th 148 8th
2007* 171 T-13th 164 14th
2006 157 26th 155 3rd
2005 150 19th 175 19th
2004 202 9th 198 24th
2003 198 6th 200 25th
2002 152 T-21st 225 30th
2001 213 4th 239 30th
2000 161 25th 221 26th
1999 223 4th 237 30th
1998 183 12th 174 19th
1997 239 2nd 196 26th
1996 221 T-4th 198 21st
1995* 200 2nd 160 22nd
1994 125 7th 120 T-14th
1993 142 15th 181 26th
* Qualified for playoffs

When it comes to offensive homers, the Rockies subsequently fell to 15th in 2019, 22nd in 2020, tied for 21st in 2021, and 22nd in 2022. The Rockies are currently No. 27 and, unless a significant power surge hits the lineup, the Rockies figure to finish worse than 22nd this year.

On the mound, the Rockies dropped from tied for 14th in 2018 to 29th in 2019, then 25th in 2020, tied for 15th in 2021, and tied for 21st in 2022. There’s not much reason to think the league-worst ranking is going to improve much this season.

Even worse, the Rockies don’t often make their homers count in terms of total run production. This season, the Rockies 78 homers have accounted for 118 of their 385 runs, or 30.6% of their run production. The Braves use homers to make up 56.7% of their runs. The Dodgers score 50.6% of their runs on homers. This inability to hit homers with men on base is severely limiting the Rockies run-scoring capabilities.

Meanwhile, other teams are making their homers count against Colorado with 44% of Colorado’s opponents’ run production coming from long balls. This is a huge factor in the Rockies -147 run differential, which is second worst in MLB behind Oakland’s -236.

As the Rockies work on figuring out what prospects will be the core of their future, they also have to find a way to eliminate this home run double whammy if they really want to open a playoff contention window in the coming years.

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Rockies’ Bill Schmidt: Relievers most likely trade pieces, but club will take offers on position players | Denver Post ($)

Patrick Saunders got some interesting info from Rockies GM Bill Schmidt about possible action before the trade deadline. While history has taught Rockies fans to temper expectations about midseason trades, Saunders got great quotes from Schmidt about how the Rockies are listening to offers for relievers and would even deal All-Star Elias Díaz for a solid return that would shore up starting pitching depth.

MLB draft: Redrafting the 2013 class 10 years later, with Astros taking Aaron Judge at No. 1 | CBS Sports

Judging the quality of a draft pick is only clear years later. As a fun thought experiment, Mike Axisa went back and “redrafted” the 2013 class. The Rockies had the No. 3 pick and used it to select Jon Gray, who later made his debut in 2015 and is one of the best starters in the organization’s history (he still holds the for most strikeouts per nine innings at 9.213). Axisa slots in a former Dodger MVP for the Rockies pick instead.

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On the Farm

Triple-A: Albuquerque Isotopes 9, Oklahoma City Dodgers 7

Willie MacIver hit a grand slam in a six-run third inning and Daniel Montano drove in three runs, while Michael Toglia went 2-for-5 with two runs scored and one RBI in Thursday’s win. Albuquerque carried a 7-4 lead into the eighth inning before Oklahoma City rallied back to tie the game in the bottom of the eighth. In the ninth, Coco Montes drew a one-out walk, his fourth of the game, Toglia followed with a double, and Montano hit a two-run single to score the eventual game-winning runs.

Double-A: Hartford Yard Goats 5, New Hampshire Fisher Cats 1

Bladimir Restituyo hit a two-run homer, an RBI infield single, and recorded a double, while Drew Romo added a solo shot to lift the Yard Goats over New Hampshire on Thursday. Bret Boswell also drove in a run, while Joe Rock recorded nine strikeouts to earn his first win of the season after giving up only one run on three hits in five innings. Stephen Jones and Nick Kuzia each added two scoreless innings to lock down the win.

High-A: Eugene Emeralds 12, Spokane Indians 10

A six-run eighth inning helped narrow a 12-4 deficit, but it wasn’t enough to complete a Spokane comeback on Thursday. AJ Lewis hit two home runs, a solo shot and a two-run bomb, while Jordan Beck doubled twice and drove in three runs, and Ryan Ritter added his own solo homer in the loss.

Low-A: Fresno Grizzlies 5, San Jose Giants 2

Skyler Messinger hit a two-run homer, Parker Kelley hit an RBI double, and Dyan Jorge hit a run-scoring single in a four-run fifth inning in Fresno’s win. Michael Prosecky threw five scoreless innings, only giving up four hits, while striking out seven to earn the win.

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