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The Rockies didn’t capitalize on stealing more bases in 2023. Can they do it in 2024?

Colorado Rockies news and links for Friday, January 19, 2024

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There are some good reasons to believe the 2024 Rockies are going to be better than the 103-loss 2023 Rockies. Maybe not a lot better, but five or 10 wins better on the road to an even better 2025.

Some of the reasons for optimism include Nolan Jones and Brenton Doyle on the roster for the whole season. Cal Quantrill in the rotation instead of José Ureña. Jones, Doyle, and Ezequiel Tovar with more experience. Austin Gomber in a much better place than after 2022.

If wins are going to increase, the Rockies need every advantage they can get to avoid another 100-loss season. The Rockies played in 47 games where the outcome was decided by one run. They went 23-24 in those games. If they can win a few more of those close games, it could make a big difference in righting the ship. Stealing a few more bases and getting more guys in scoring position would be a good way to do that.

In 2023, the year of the stolen base, the Rockies didn’t play a big part in the increased theft.

Across the MLB, everything stolen bases increased with bigger bases and a limit on pitcher pickoff attempts lessening the risk. Runners totaled 3,503 stolen bases in 2023, which is 1,017 more than in 2022. Stolen base attempts per game increased from 1.4 in 2022 to 1.8 in 2023, while successful steals went from 1.0 in 2022 to 1.4 in 2023. MLB runners posted the highest success rate in MLB history at 80.2%, almost 5% higher than 2022.

Colorado Rockies Stolen Bases in 2022 and 2023

Year SB MLB Rank SB MLB AVG CS SB% MLB Rank SB% MLB AVG
Year SB MLB Rank SB MLB AVG CS SB% MLB Rank SB% MLB AVG
2023 76 No. 28 117 25 75% No. 26 80%
2022 45 No. 29 83 20 69% No. 25 69%

The Rockies finished No. 28 overall in MLB with 76 steals, behind only the Angels (72) and Giants (56). The Rockies barely got more than Atlanta speedster Ronald Acuna, who led the league with 73. Twenty-one teams had over 100 steals with the Reds leading the way at 190.

Colorado runners were caught 25 times for a success rate of 75%. That ranked No. 27 with only Pirates (74%), Blue Jays (74%), and Angels (70%) worse, while the Mets were No. 1 in efficiency with an 89% success rate.

The Rockies did improve from their 2022 totals when they stole 45 bases, which was second worst in the league. They were caught stealing 20 times, meaning they were only successful 69% of the time.

That improvement wasn’t great according to FanGraphs’ Baserunning runs above average (BsR). The “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” put the Rockies at -19.9, which was dead last in MLB. With the Cubs and Rays tied for first at 14.8 and the league average at zero, that’s a lot of lost runs on the basepaths. If you want to win games, that can’t be the case for a team that also had the most runs against in the league at 957 (compared to 647 for No. 1 Milwaukee).

The Rockies ranked No. 18 with 4.45 runs per game, slightly less than the league average of 4.62. That has to go up and stolen bases could help.

But will that be in the case in 2024?

It depends.

With the Rockies current roster, they are likely to get a few more stolen bases in 2024, but mostly only because of Brenton Doyle and Nolan Jones.

In 2023, Doyle led the team with 22 steals and Jones had 20. The rookie duo made up for over 55% of the Rockies stolen bases and neither played full seasons (Doyle 126 games and Jones 106 games). If Doyle steals at the same rate in 2024 as he did in 2023, he would steal just over 28 bases in 162 games. At his 2023 rate, Jones would steal over 30 bases in 162 games.

Tovar was the next highest with 11 stolen bases and everyone else had five or fewer. Even if we round down for rest days, if Jones and Doyle combine for 54, Tovar stays the same at 11, and the rest of the Rockies can combine for 21 like they did in 2023, then the Rockies would total 86 stolen bases in 2024. That would be 10 more than in 2024.

The current roster just doesn’t boast many base-stealing threats. Even if Brendan Rodgers and Kris Bryant stay healthy, they aren’t threats on the basepaths. They would mostly benefit in runs batted in. Charlie Blackmon could record a few sneaky steals, but his serious burglary days are done.

Where the promise comes in really increasing the threat on the basepaths is in the Rockies future, namely outfielder Zac Veen and infielders Adael Amador and Julio Carreras.

Veen, who is No. 2 PuRP in 2023’s midseason list (the 2024 preseason list is rolling out over this month and into February), is a speedster who has recorded 113 steals in three years in MiLB, including 22 in 46 games last year before wrist surgery ended his season early. MLB Pipeline slates Veen to make his MLB debut in 2024, despite the fact that he has yet to play in Triple-A Albuquerque.

If Veen becomes a Rockie and gets playing time in 2024, the Rockies will have their most serious weapon on the basepaths since Blackmon’s 2015 season when he stole 43 bases. It’s very exciting to think of a roster with Doyle, Jones, and Veen when it comes to swiping bags.

Shortstop Julio Carreras (No. 22 PuRP in the 2023 midseason list) has posted 78 stolen bases in five MiLB seasons, including 14 in 2023 splitting time between Hartford and Albuquerque. Despite a slower path to the majors because of 2020 and injuries, Carreras could make his MLB debut in 2024 and he will make a difference on the basepaths.

Finally, infielder Adael Amador (No. 1 PuRP 2023 midseason list) has stolen 51 bags in 231 games over three seasons in his MiLB career, including 15 last year in Spokane and Hartford. He’s not like Veen, but he would boost the Rockies numbers. His ETA isn’t until 2025.

There is more hope for more stolen bases in the Rockies future. The numbers should tick up in 2024, but it might not make a noticeable difference until 2025.

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The story of Todd Helton’s wild, joyful 2007 season that almost wasn’t | The Athletic ($)

Maybe I blocked this out of my memory or I never knew, but this story is bonkers and Stephen J. Nesbitt tells it well. Charlie Monfort tried to trade Todd Helton after the 2006 season. The Rockies and Red Sox were in serious talks, but couldn’t decide on which prospects would relocate from Boston to Colorado. Helton would have waived his no-trade clause. Can you imagine Todd as a Red Sox? The leader of Rocktober absent? This one is full of great quotes from former manager Clint Hurdle, former GM Dan O’Dowd, and former players like Clint Barmes and Ryan Spilborghs. This article is a delight to read and clearly argues for Helton’s place in the Hall of Fame. It’s even better coming from a national reporter on a national site. East Coast sports writers: please read this.

Latest Details On Diamond Bankruptcy | MLB Trade Rumors

This doesn’t directly affect the Rockies since AT&T SportsNet was not part of Diamond Sports Group, but any news in the regional sports network arena is important as Rockies fans wait in limbo to find out how we’ll watch games this season. Diamond, which had broadcasting deals for MLB, NBA, and NHL teams, is currently going through bankruptcy court, could stay alive as an MLB broadcaster this season. With a possible partnership with Amazon, the Royals, Tigers, Marlins, Brewers, and Rays might have their games continue on Bally Sports Network, owned by Diamond, and be streamed on Prime Video. Nothing is set in stone, but this is an interesting development.

Stark: My 2024 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot — how I voted and why | The Athletic ($)

This is how it should be. Baseball Writers’ Association of America reporters reveal their ballots and show their work. They explain what criteria they are using, why they voted the way they did, and show fans that they deserve this honor of getting a ballot. Jayson Stark does it beautifully here and has Helton as one of his 10. Stark says Helton would belong in the Hall of Fame even if he played on the Moon. His career slash numbers (.316/.414/.539/.953) are only bested by Ted Williams and Stan Musial. The evidence is abundant.

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