The Colorado Rockies had a mile-high offense in their hitter-friendly Coors Field. Their pitching, however, has yet to rise above sea level as the Rockies continue to look for a pitching staff that is as good as their offense.
With a record of 75-87, the Rockies won the loser’s race in the NL West, once again falling short of the Giants and Dodgers. Their offense was as close to blameless for their struggles with an NL-best rank in home runs, runs scored, hits, and batting average. Their offense consisted of four players with 25 or more home runs and a batting average over .290.
Leading the way was All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado. The Rockies slugger clobbered 41 home runs and tallied an MLB-high 133 RBIs. His career year brings questions of whether Arenado falls into the category of Todd Helton and Larry Walker; great Colorado hitters that aren’t truly appreciated since they play at Coors Field. Arenado hit 25 of his 41 home runs at Coors Field in 2016.
The parameters of the ballpark have no effect on how D.J LeMahieu is appreciated. With an MLB-high .348 batting average, the Rockies second baseman emerged last season as one of the more consistent hitters in baseball. Over time, the Rockies would like to see more power out of LeMahieu as his swing is to compact not to hit at least 20 home runs a season, instead of the 11 he recorded last season.
One player that had no problem hitting home runs, at least in the first half of the season, was Rockies shortstop Trevor Story. Story hit 27 homers last season, but only 6 of them came in the second half. The Rockies are hoping Story’s rookie year does not project him on the same path as Joc Pederson.
Pederson had a hot start to his rookie year but then quickly fizzled out after he hit the rookie wall. Luckily, for Pederson, the Rockies don’t need his production with the likes of Charlie Blackmon and newly signed Ian Desmond on the team.
The last remnant of the Rockies 2007 NL championship run Carlos Gonzalez may be in his last days in Colorado. Last season Cargo drew interest from teams like the Mets and Rangers and could be swayed to joining NL West rival Los Angeles Dodgers via trade. The Rockies have more than enough hitting, to trade away but they would ideally want quality starting pitching in return.
Jon Gray is still very much a project playing his first full season in the big leagues. With a 4.61 ERA last season, Gray may be their only chance at having an ace with the pitchers not bending over backward to play in a pitcher’s nightmare of a ballpark.
The Rockies did improve their pitching this offseason, acquiring both relievers Jason Motte and Greg Holland. Holland is coming off season-ending elbow surgery but was the engine of the Royals bullpen during their two-years run atop the AL. Holland had 32 saves and 49 strikeouts in 48 appearances in 2015.
A fellow veteran reliever should help aid a Rockies pitching staff that finished with the second-worst ERA in the NL at 4.91. With this team’s offense, anywhere below 3.5 runs, a game should boost the Rockies win total into the mid-80s.
- I'm a 19-year old sophomore dual major in Journalism and Sports Management at Eastern Nazarene College. Born in Boston, MA raised in Brockton, and just happy to be here at NGSC Sports.