Colorado Rockies 2018 Season Preview

The Colorado Rockies had a 12 win jump from 2016 to 2017 and earned a spot in the NL Wildcard game. They lost, but for the first time since they went to the World Series, there was some hope. This team can absolutely crush the ball with Arenado, Blackmon, Lemahieu, Story and others but pitching is always their sore spot. Could that change this year? On paper, they don’t have an overwhelming staff but can get it done. If last year is the sign of things to come, they will have a few good years coming in Denver.

Key Additions:

Wade Davis, RHP

Bryan Shaw, RHP

Chris Iannetta, C

Key Losses:

Tyler Chatwood, RHP

Jonathon Lucroy, C

Carlos Gonzalez, OF (?)

Why they can win: The Rockies can win because they hit .273 as a team a year ago, they get on base and their bullpen is one of the best going. Adding Wade Davis and Bryan Shaw to Jake McGee make for a scary 7-8-9th inning group. Their lineup is as good as anyone in the NL and they have some prospects that could see time this year. They finally get David Dahl and Ian Desmond healthy and Raimel Tapia will get a full season.

Why they can lose: They can lose if their pitching doesn’t live up to what they’re expecting. Good young pitchers is great and all and they’ve all shown flashes they can do it. But flashes and a full 162 is different; especially in Coors Field. I don’t see the offense slowing down but if someone gets injured, paired with bad pitching, it will keep them out of the playoffs

Bottom Line: They are a good deep lineup. They had two guys with MVP type numbers last year that could do it again and a couple guys whose WAR will be nothing to shake a stick at. They’re definitely in the playoff hunt but need the SP to be above average to make a real push at it. Jon Gray was great at home last year and Anderson, Marquez and Freeland all have pretty high ceilings. They have great prospects like Brendan Rodgers and Ryan McMahon who can hit and Riley Pint who is a bit away but has a great arm. Realistically, they could snag a another wildcard spot and if they can win, you never know what they can do in the playoffs with this roster.

Major4 Numbers Game:

Stud: Charlie Blackmon, CF

I wanted to right about one of my man-crushes, Nolan Arenado, but Charlie Blackmon was silly good last year, and did it on a value salary ($7.3 million). Chuck Nazty lived up to his nickname, posting a 6.5 WAR and 141 wRC+ (Fangraphs), while increasing his BB% to 9.1. His counting stats were elite leading the NL in batting average (.331), plate appearance (725) and runs (137!), as well as 37 HRs and 104 RBIs. His power numbers may regress slightly as his exit velo and launch angle was league average (87.4 MPH, 12.4 degrees, respectively), but he has a great feel for hitting line drives and his increasing patience will allow him to be an elite hitter. Overall, he provided the Rockies with tremendous surplus value ($51.2 million, per Fangraphs $9M/WAR) while earning a Silver Slugger and second All-Star appearance.

Sinkhole: Ian Desmond, LF/1B

Desmond signed one of the largest offseason contracts last offseason (5/$70M), but seemed like an odd fit wit the Rockies as they pegged him to play a position he’d never played, 1B. It was a season marred with injury and poor performance, as he posted a negative WAR (-0.8) and was poor in the field. What’s interesting is his plate discipline remained the exact same as the previous campaign with the Rangers, so me may regress back to his career norms. He is unable to take advantage of the high altitude with an average launch angle of (-1.21 degrees) and his propensity to hit the ball on the ground (62.5% GB rate). If you don’t put the ball in the air, it is very difficult to hit for power. He provided one of the worst values of any hitter in baseball, -$21.2 million in performance deficit on his contract (per Fangraph $9M/WAR). We expect him to bounce back with a positive WAR, but he hardly looks like a league average player despite his hefty contract.

Progression Candidate: Trevor Story, SS

Story had a pretty tough season despite hitting 24 HRs, as he posted an extremely high K% (33.4) and poor wRC+ (81, Fangraphs). This was a big step back after his breakout 2016 campaign. Why we think he can bounce back: above-average exit velo (89.9 MPH), optimal launch angle (18.8 degrees), and propensity to hit the ball hard (40.3% hard hit rate). Add in playing half his games in the thin altitude, it is easy to bet on Story rebounding. The swing-and-miss aspect of his game will always be prevalent, but he hits the ball with authority when he connects. Hot Take: Story doubles his WAR (>2.5) and hits 30+ HRs.

Impact Acquisition: Wade Davis, CP

The Rockies have been one of the most active teams during free agency committing $114 million to four players (4th most in MLB, thus far). Their biggest acquisition was getting closer Wade Davis on a monster 3/$52M contract. Davis had a fantastic season posting 32 saves in 33 opportunities (2nd best conversion rate in MLB), struck out 32.3% of all batters, and an incredible 15.4% swinging strike. He should provide more stability to the closer position as Greg Holland had a horrible second half. Davis’ ability to miss bats should allow his best attributes to play up in the thin air.

Major4 Prospects, (Top 100):

Brendan Rodgers, SS (15)

Ryan McMahon, INF (41)

Riley Pint, RHP (100)

Peter Lambert, RHP

Why We Love Them: They’re kind of just a fun team to watch. It feels like they’re right there and they have some awesome young talent, who, if they can live up to hype could make some noise in the NL West. It’s almost impossible not to love Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon. They’re trending up, play in a hitter friendly ballpark and have prospects coming which is exciting. Also, any team that can pull off purple is fine by me.

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