2020 Record: 26-34
Fourth Place, NL West
Team ERA: 5.59 (29th)
Team OPS: .716 (18th)
What Went Right
The Rockies got off to a fantastic start, winning 11-of-14 games to begin the 60-game campaign and looking like legitimate playoff contenders in the truncated year. More on that later. One of the reasons Colorado started the year so hot was the performance of Trevor Story, who continues to play like one of the top shortstops in baseball. He hit .289 with an OPS of .874, he launched 11 homers, and he also stole 15 bases; the most of any player in the National League. Charlie Blackmon faded down the stretch -- again, more on that later -- but he finished the year over .300 for the fourth time in five years at .303 and knocked in 42 runs in his 59 games. Raimel Tapia finally broke out after being a top prospect for what seemed like a decade and hit .321 with eight steals while hitting at the top of the Colorado lineup down the stretch. The Rockies pitching also had some good moments, as well. German Marquez posted a 3.75 ERA, and he was better than that mark suggests considering one of his starts was a 10-run outing against the Astros. Antonio Senzatela was only able to strike out 41 hitters in 73 1/3 innings, but he was able to post a 3.44 ERA with a 1.21 WHIP thanks to a .254 average against. The Rockies also one of the best stories of the year -- note that this is not a Story pun -- in Daniel Bard. After not appearing in an MLB game since 2013, Bard was able to convert six saves in as many chances with a respectable 3.65 ERA and 27/10 K/BB ratio.
What Went Wrong
The Rockies started 2020 with an 11-3 record. From that point on, they went 15-33. Do that over a full year and you win somewhere around 52 games. That’s not very good. Their pythagorean record was even worse, as they were outscored by 78 runs; suggesting -- if not just flat-out telling you -- that the start to the season was mostly luck with a .378 suggested win-loss record. While Colorado got quality performances from Blackmon and Story, Nolan Arenado disappointed with a .253/.303/.434 line; well below his career slash of .293/.349/.541. And the rest of the offense wasn’t very good, either. Daniel Murphy disappointed in 2019 and was even worse in 2020; dropping his OPS from .780 to .608 in what looks like his final year in Colorado. And, as you can see from the fact that they had the second worst ERA in baseball, the pitching outside of the top two starters was bad. Jon Gray only made eight starts, but a 6.69 ERA and 22/11 K/BB ratio in 39 innings isn’t getting the job done. The bullpen was a disaster outside of Bard and Yency Almonte, and no other reliever who made more than five appearances had an earned run average below 5.00.
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** Ryan McMahon was a highly ranked prospect and for good reason. He got a chance to play everyday, and he did not perform up to expectations as a 25-year-old with a slash of .215/.295/.419 and an ugly 66/18 K/BB ratio in 193 plate appearances. He did show off some power with nine homers a year after he posted 24 in his 141 games. McMahon’s talent is unquestioned and the fact he’s a second baseman player in a hitter’s utopia is nice, but a .237 average in 301 career games suggests he’s not going to hit for the average that was expected. A breakout season is certainly possible, but, buyer beware.
** Kyle Freeland was outstanding in 2018 (17 wins, 2.85 ERA) and a disaster in 2019 (6.73, 3-11 record). In 2020, he split the difference with a 4.33 mark and 1.42 WHIP over 70 2/3 frames. The former first-round pick just isn’t going to miss many bats, and pitching in that park is a recipe for disaster. Having said that, if Freeland were to be moved, his value could improve substantially, and as long as he’s not starting in Coors Field, he has a chance to be a streamer if he stays in Colorado.
** It wasn’t that long ago that Wade Davis was one of the most reliable relievers in baseball. Time can be cruel. Davis was awful in 2019 with an 8.65 ERA, but was on pace to be even worse in 2020 with a 20.77 mark in five games before needing shoulder surgery and ending his season. The Rockies also didn’t get anything from Scott Oberg, as he needed thoracic outlet surgery after blood clots were discovered in his right arm. Davis is likely done, and Oberg would be a tough arm to trust from a fantasy standpoint in 2021; the track record of pitchers recovering from that surgery is not ideal. There’s a very good chance that Bard is the closer again to open the season for the Rockies.
** While Tapia was able to hit .321 while providing the eight steals, he also hit only a single homer in those 51 games. That’s not easy to do in Coors Field, but with a swing that is very much geared towards contact and a frame that isn’t conducive to power, it’s not likely he’s ever going to provide much in that category. That being said, the Rockies have to be happy with what they saw from the 26-year-old in this truncated season. Hillard, Dahl and Garrett Hampson are going to get looks, but if Tapia does earn that starting gig, there’s obvious fantasy appeal.
** Brendan Rodgers was the third pick in the 2015 and has looked the part in the minors. In his 97 at-bats in the majors, however, the 24-year-old has hit just .196 with an OPS of .462 and ugly 33/4 K/BB ratio. He’s also ended the last two years on the injured list; both due to injuries to his right shoulder. While the numbers have been disappointing, the sample size is too small to write off a player of his age that has shown the ability to hit for average and power. If he can earn a starting gig, he could provide significant fantasy relevance, but it’s understandable if fantasy players want to take a wait-and-see approach.
Team Needs: Colorado needs pitching and will always need pitching; particularly in one of the worst bullpens in baseball. The Rockies also could use some infield upgrades, and while there’s a logjam of quantity in the outfield, it’s probably fair to say that there’s some questions about the quality. With the likelihood of a 16-team playoff sticking around, the Rockies should be able to compete for one of those spots, but need significant upgrades if they’re going to compete with the Dodgers and Padres in the NL West.