A look back at the Colorado Rockies’ season that ended Sunday at 26-34.
Three things that went right
Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story (27) in the first inning of a baseball game Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, in Denver.(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
In general, the team’s three-man core was fine. Nolan Arenado’s slump was well noted, but only four teams had a higher Wins Above Average from their third baseman, and Arenado accounted for 82% of that. Charlie Blackmon hit .303 and his 42 RBIs translate to 113 in a full season. Granted, he fell off sharply after hitting .500 for three weeks, defensive metrics show him to be below average and his hits included a league-high 48 singles. Not great signs. But not the problem. Then there’s Story, 27, who played Gold Glove-caliber defense at shortstop, led the NL in steals and triples and was on pace for a third-straight 30 home run season. The only bad thing about Story’s season was that it was only 60 games, taking away 102 games in the middle of his prime.
Colorado Rockies starting pitcher German Marquez (48) in the first inning of a baseball game Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, in Denver.(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Top of the rotation
German Marquez, Kyle Freeland and Antonio Senzatela each went 70-plus innings, making them the only trio to do so this season. Senzatela led Rockies starters in wins (5) and ERA (3.44), Marquez was tops in strikeouts (73) and Freeland dropped 2.40 points off his 2019 ERA in a bounce-back season that was closer to his 2018 campaign that resulted in a fourth-place Cy Young Award finish. “I believe I’m more refined in the art of pitching,” Freeland said. That goes for the team’s top three pitchers.
Colorado Rockies pitcher Daniel Bard pitches in the sixth inning against the Texas Rangers in a baseball game Saturday, July 25, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Richard W. Rodriguez)
The surprise guys
Daniel Bard’s story was special from start to finish. He overcame the anxiety-induced control issues that drove him out of baseball and returned after seven years away. Not only did he come back, but he earned Colorado’s closer’s role and saved six games, striking out 27 in 24 2/3 innings. Josh Fuentes lacked that sort of Hollywood script, but his story was at minimum made-for-TV material. The once-undrafted, overshadowed first-cousin of Nolan Arenado solidified himself as a legitimate big leaguer by hitting .306 and playing stellar defense at first base. Eleven Rockies position players had more plate appearances, yet Fuentes — getting his first regular action at age 27 — ranked third in Wins Above Replacement.
Three that did not
Colorado Rockies first baseman Daniel Murphy waits a San Francisco Giants batter during the third inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Veteran supporting players
Colorado received a boost from its elder statesmen early in the season, particularly during an 11-3 start. Chris Owings hit .293 during that start, but injuries limited him to 14 plate appearances the rest of the way. And that’s about when they all faded. Daniel Murphy hit .143/.187/.157 after Aug. 14 and was a mess defensively. Matt Kemp hit .215/.292/.415 after Aug. 20. What’s worse, now that the complete picture of the season is in full view, those three were given 318 plate appearances — roughly 1/7 of the team’s total. That was playing time that didn’t go to Josh Fuentes early in the season or younger players like Garrett Hampson or Sam Hilliard, and now the team enters yet another year where it doesn’t fully know what it has in those younger assets.
Colorado Rockies left fielder David Dahl warms up before the team’s baseball game against the San Diego Padres on Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Lack of emerging talent
Raimel Tapia is the exception here, as he hit .321/.369/.402 and showed he can occupy the leadoff spot. Tapia didn’t impress according to the defensive numbers, showed little pop and will need to cut his strikeout rate vs. right-handers, but there’s something there. Nobody else made a similar impression. David Dahl struggled when he played and was injured again. Top prospect Brendon Rodgers remains a question mark. Hilliard hit .208, Hampson struck out 58 times in 163 at-bats and Ryan McMahon’s power teases were obscured by his strikeout rate and inconsistent production. The Rockies won’t enter this offseason excited about the emergence of any young players, and because of the financial structure of baseball where young labor equates to cheap labor, that will handcuff the ability to make any quick fixes.
Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Tyler Kinley looks back after giving up a three-run home run to Los Angeles Angels’ Jared Walsh during the 11th inning of a baseball game Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020, in Denver. The Angels won 5-2. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
No National League bullpen struggled like the one in Colorado, where the ERA was over 6.75 and opponents slugged over .535. What’s most troubling is these numbers came despite the top of the rotation eating so many innings and Daniel Bard and Yency Almonte — the relievers who tossed the most innings — having quality seasons. The rest was a collection of shield-your-eyes woes.