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How effective are the Colorado Rockies on the bases?

Colorado Rockies news and links for Tuesday, August 29, 2023

We’ve known for some time that the Colorado Rockies have not been a good base-stealing team — they are 29th in stolen bases with 50. (Only the San Francisco Giants have fewer with 47.) But how is their base running overall?

For this, I turned to FanGraphs’ base-running statistic, BsR. Here’s how FanGraphs defines this statistic:

Base Running (BsR) is FanGraphs’ all encompassing base running statistic that turns stolen bases, caught stealings, and other base running plays (taking extra bases, being thrown out on the bases, etc) into runs above and below average. It is the combination of Weighted Stolen Base Runs (wSB), Weighted Grounded Into Double Play Runs (wGDP), and Ultimate Base Running (UBR) which are all available on the leaderboards and player pages.

BsR serves as the base running component of Wins Above Replacement (WAR) and provides a lot more information than simply looking at a player’s stolen base total if you are interested in judging a player’s base running performance.

BsR provides more information than just a stolen-base count: It adds to the mix caught stealing, getting extra bases, base-running errors, etc. and converts them into an above and below average. (It’s also a component of a player’s WAR.)

Let’s consider, then, how the Rockies compare to other MLB teams as well as the performance of individual players.

As a starting point, in 2022, the Rockies had a BsR of -2.6, which was 19th in MLB. Their player with the highest BsR? Ryan McMahon (2.1). Their lowest? Brendan Rodgers (-1.7).

When it comes to BsR, how do the Rockies compare to other teams?

TLDR: They are not good — like, worst-in-baseball not good.

As a benchmark, the Chicago Cubs have MLB’s highest BsR at 12.3 followed by the Cincinnati Reds with 10.8. The highest score in the NL West belongs to the Arizona Diamondbacks, who are fourth with 8.3. (The Los Angeles Dodgers are fifth with 7.8.)

In contrast, the Rockies have the lowest BsR in MLB with -17.9. The next worst? The New York Yankees, who have a -12.5 score.

We’ve known for several seasons that the Rockies are struggling offensively in terms of being unable to hit for power. (Not even Coors Field can save them.) In addition, because of poor base running, they are giving up additional opportunities to score.

For a team with such a thin margin for error, these are costly mistakes, and it again speaks to the ways in which this team is not built to exploit the new rules, specifically, the Rockies’ lack of speed. Moreover, they are getting fewer walks (355, which is 26th in baseball) and creating less value from those walks when they do get them.

That’s bad, but how are individual players?

Let’s start by setting a bar. Who has an exceptional BsR score?

Corbin Carroll leads all of baseball with a 10.4; he’s followed by Estuary Ruiz at 8.4. Christian Yellich and CJ Abrams tie for third at 7.6. Let’s agree that Carroll is in a league by himself this year, so he’s not a good comparator. Ronald Acuña Jr. is 13th with a 4.9 score.

Now to the Rockies. Only four players have BsR scores above 0.0 — or average. Those players are as follows

  • Nolan Jones — 2.9
  • Brenton Doyle — 2.4
  • Alan Trejo — 0.8
  • Cole Tucker — 0.6

And that’s it.

So of the four players with above-average scores, only two see regular playing time, and Cole Tucker has spent three games with the Rockies.

Also notable is that the players with the highest BsR scores are the fastest players on the roster, and they also lead the team in stolen bases. (Ezequiel Tovar ties with Jones in having eight stolen bases.)

The lowest BsR scores? Ryan McMahon and CJ Cron are tied at -5.3; Ezequiel Tovar has a -2.7; and then Kris Bryant has earned a -1.6 score.

That this is not a strong category for McMahon and Cron makes some sense given that neither is especially fast, though something has clearly changed in McMahon’s game since 2022. Tovar appearing here, however, is more of a surprise. Perhaps this is due to making the kinds of base-running errors that go with being a rookie and learning more about the game or his BB% of 4.3% as he becomes more comfortable with MLB pitching.

Closing thoughts

The Colorado Rockies are not a good team, and they need all the advantages they can get. Right now, that’s not happening on the basepaths.

Of the ten teams with the highest BsR scores, eight are contending for a division title or a Wild Card spot. In other words, being effective base runners gives a team another competitive advantage.

As the Rockies begin thinking about 2024, this is a part of their game that will need to improve.


With tantalizing power, Rockies prospect Hunter Goodman on doorstep of major league call-up | Denver Post ($)

Kyle Newman provides a terrific profile of Hunter Goodman and the folks who helped him become the slugger he is. “He’s got this thing called launch angle figured out,” explained Goodman’s college coach, Daron Schoenrock. “It’s uncanny. That’s what I saw in him as a young hitter — his fly balls went farther than the other top eight-grader’s fly balls. Even when he was 13 years old playing on a big field, he was driving guys back with routine flies.” Goodman credits his understanding of launch angle to his mother, Stephanie, a softball star at Freed-Hartman University. Rockies fans are eager to see if Goodman can bring some offensive power to a team sorely lacking it.

WBD Sports closer to exit from nearly all of its RSN Business | Sports Business Journal

As John Ourand reports, WBD Sports plans to close down AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain at the end of the season. After that, the Rockies will have to make some decisions. They could sell their broadcasting rights to MLB, and the league would then handle the production with the team receiving about 80% of its currents rights fees. However, Altitude has approached the Rockies in hopes of providing year-round sports coverage on their network. (Altitude also hopes this move would help the network resolve its issues with Comcast.) So during the offseason, we can look forward to some network drama in addition to free-agent signings and trades.


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