2019 Colorado Rockies Season Preview: Coors Field factor can't be overstated

Yahoo Sports

Editor’s note: Baseball is back and Yahoo Sports is previewing all 30 teams over the next month. This year’s previews will focus on fantasy and reality, as our MLB news staff and our fantasy baseball crew come together to assess each team before opening day. Next up, the Colorado Rockies.

It was a wild finish to 2018 for the Colorado Rockies. They tied for the NL West lead on the final day of the season, then lost in Game 163 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. But the Rockies still made the wild-card game, where they beat the Chicago Cubs and then advanced to the NLDS where they lost to the Milwaukee Brewers.

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It’s exhausting to even read. So this is a Rockies team hungry for more.

They’ve got a very talented core, led by Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon. Their pitching is actually pretty good, despite the Coors Field altitude and what it usually does to ERAs. They added veteran Daniel Murphy to an infield that also includes Trevor Story. In reality, the Rockies could win the NL West if things go their way.

In fantasy circles, the Rockies are just as intriguing. Arenado is a guy you obviously jump at if you can get, and could go as high as third overall. Story and Blackmon will also come off the board early. David Dahl could finally be ready to breakout, and even some of the pitchers are worth a look.

Don’t sleep on the Rockies, either on the field or in your fantasy lineup. - Mike Oz

Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado got paid this offseason. (Getty Images)
Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado got paid this offseason. (Getty Images)

Rockies’ offseason grade

Daniel Murphy is coming off his worst season and will be 34 this year, but he could help if there’s some bounce-back in there. They brought back Mark Reynolds too, because power plays in Denver. But not a lot has changed otherwise, except the really big one: Nolan Arenado isn’t going anywhere.

Instead of entering his walk year with the Rockies, their star third baseman and perennial MVP candidate signed an eight-year extension worth $260 million last month. He’s getting paid handsomely and he’s proven himself to deliver for the Rockies over the years.

Our grade — A: If you can lock in Nolan Arenado for the long-term, you win. Now let’s see what Murphy has left. - Mike Oz

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Colorado’s projected lineup and pitching staff

The projected Colorado Rockies lineup for 2019. (Yahoo Sports)
The projected Colorado Rockies lineup for 2019. (Yahoo Sports)

Who will be Colorado’s fantasy breakout?

David Dahl gave us a preview of his potential during a monster final month last year when he hit nine homers and recorded 27 RBIs. September numbers should always be viewed more critically, but this sample came with a 141 wRC+ mark that would’ve ranked top-10 over a full season. For once, no one is blocking his path to playing time in Colorado, where Dahl gets a huge benefit from hitting in Coors Field. Still just 24 years old with SB ability and slated to hit toward the middle of the Rockies’ lineup, Dahl is someone to target in fantasy drafts. Now he just needs to stay healthy. - Dalton Del Don

What is the Rockies’ biggest fantasy question?

German Marquez posted a 2.61 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP with a 124/20 K/BB ratio over 93.0 innings after the All-Star break last season, setting a franchise record in strikeouts with 230 on the year. While his first half 4.81 ERA is of some concern, the bigger worry with Marquez is having to pitch in Coors Field, which has increased run scoring by an MLB-high 33 percent over the last three seasons. The second-best offensive park in the National League over that span has increased run scoring by five percent, so the Coors factor can’t be overstated. Marquez is a popular breakout pick, but how much upside can a Rockies starting pitcher truly have? With his price tag getting more expensive at draft tables, let someone else’s fantasy team find out. - Dalton Del Don

[Positional Rankings: Top 300 Overall | C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | P]

Rockies’ prospect to watch

The Rockies find themselves in a conundrum in 2019. Both of their top prospects are infielders, and it looks like there’s only one infield spot available at the moment. Currently, Garrett Hampson is penciled in as the team’s starter at second. The 24 year old isn’t a big power hitter, but should hit for a high average and provide speed in the majors.

Brendan Rodgers is the team’s top prospect. While it looked like he would be a natural replacement for Nolan Arenado in 2020, that’s no longer the case after Arenado signed his massive extension. Working in both Rodgers and Hampson this season would be ideal for Colorado, though it’s unclear how the team will make that work. Admittedly, this is a good problem to have. - Chris Cwik

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Things that MUST go right for Colorado

1. Coors Field dominance: After a sluggish start (10-17), the Rockies rebounded to finish 47-34 at home last season. Those early slip-ups proved costly though, as the Rockies were forced into a division tiebreaker game against the Dodgers, which they lost in Los Angeles. Had Colorado hit 50 wins at home, it would have made a huge difference. They should aim for nothing less than that in 2019.

2. Hit better on the road: The Rockies home and road splits are a story every season, and that will likely never change given the circumstances. What did change last season was Colorado's fortunes away from Coors Field. For just the second time in franchise history, which dates back to 1993, Colorado posted a winning road record (44-38). The kicker is they did it despite batting .225, which was their lowest-ever road batting average. If that number comes up, the improved starting pitching could make the Rockies a road force.

3. Bullpen rebound: After investing over $100 million in the bullpen last offseason, Colorado's relievers finished with the fifth-worst ERA in MLB. This winter, the Rockies invested nothing in the bullpen, and actually lost stalwart Adam Ottavino to the New York Yankees. They will call on Scott Oberg and Seung-hwan Oh to fill that void, while also hoping for bounce back seasons from Bryan ShawJake McGee and Chris Rusin. It's a concerning area that could make or break Colorado's season. - Mark Townsend

If this team had a walk-up song, what would it be?

Nolan Arenado got his money. The Rockies have plenty of power. Now they’re out for respect. After their 2018 season, they’re pretty close. What they really need to do is upend the Dodgers and win the NL West crown in 2019. Maybe they should play this one from The Lox, DMX and Lil Kim to get ‘em hyped. - Mike Oz

More 2019 MLB Previews From Yahoo Sports

Baltimore | Miami | Kansas City | Detroit | Texas | Toronto | San Diego

Chicago (AL) | Minnesota | San Francisco | Pittsburgh | Arizona | Seattle

Cincinnati | Los Angeles (AL) | Oakland | Tampa Bay | Colorado | Cleveland

New York (NL) | St. Louis | Atlanta | Philadelphia | Milwaukee | Chicago

Washington | Los Angeles (NL) | Houston | New York (AL) | Boston

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