With the end of the MLB regular season coming this week, Bally Sports is reviewing the performance of each club with a look at what happened in 2021 and what could happen next season. Our next Exit Interview is with the Colorado Rockies.
What went right
• Their team ERA ranks 24th, which is misleading because Coors Field juices hitting numbers even while using a humidor to store the baseballs. Make an adjustment for the home park and Rockies pitchers are middle of the pack. Each of Colorado’s top starters — Germán Márquez, Antonio Senzatela, Jon Gray and Austin Gomber — have ERAs that are better than league average. They have compiled more fWAR than 17 other teams, most notably the Braves.
• The Rockies collectively went 4-2 against the Braves, 5-2 against the Phillies and 2-2 against the Astros.
• Colorado ranks fourth in defensive runs saved.
• C.J. Cron took a liking to Coors Field (he’s slugging .670 at home), but his overall numbers (.276/.369/.529 with 28 homers) translate OK to a neutral park. His road stats pale by comparison to his performance at Coors, but even they were slightly above average when compared to the rest of the league.
• Brendan Rodgers finally got healthy, had a chance to play every day and hit pretty well (.284/.329/.470 with 15 home runs). He also played plus defense at shortstop in limited innings, looking ahead to 2022.
• Ryan McMahon played top-caliber defense at third base and second base and was nearly league average offensively. He has 24 runs saved, compared to eight by former Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado.
• Before things turned against the Rockies this week, they were playing over-.500 ball in the second half. It speaks well for the ability of manager Bud Black to keep the group focused.
What went wrong
• Gomber was terrific until a back injury put him on the shelf for the rest of the season. He also experienced forearm tightness in July, so watch him in spring training.
• The Rockies were roasted before the season for trading Arenado to the Cardinals rather than extending the contract of their homegrown star. They took a different course of action (more like inaction) with Trevor Story. Not only did they not extend his contract, but they also didn’t trade him to a contender before the deadline, leaving him confused and upset. They figure to make Story a qualifying offer this offseason, which he figures to turn down for a better deal — anywhere else — in free agency.
• Márquez has been All-Star caliber three times during his career.
• Connor Joe hit .285/.379/.469 with eight homers and played good defense at first base and in the outfield before a hamstring injury ended his season. He’s 29, but he’s also a former first-round pick and survivor of testicular cancer. He would seem to have a good chance of landing a roster spot in spring training.
Reasons for optimism
• Márquez won’t be a free agent until 2024. Freeland has posted a 3.91 ERA in the second half. Rodgers could make another big leap forward in 2022. Catcher Elías Díaz has slugged 18 homers and has saved seven runs on defense.
What needs work
• The farm system ranks in the lower third of the league, and only outfielder Zac Veen makes the list of top-100 prospects.
• Attracting free-agent pitching talent to Colorado, even with the humidor equalizing an imbalance for pitchers, will continue to be a problem. One of the Rockies’ own pitchers, Gray, will hit the open market this offseason.
• The lineup has been below-average this season, aside from Cron (who is a free agent) and Rodgers. Charlie Blackmon, who holds player contract options for 2022 and 2023, has been an average hitter the past two seasons and nowhere close to his All-Star days. It’s hard to expect the 35-year-old to turn back time.