Sorry, Colorado Rockies, your World Series trophy is in another castle. But you’ve got to have an ERA under four to get in.
The Rockies weren’t great this season, but they weren’t bad either — and since they’re often bad, 2016 was an encouraging step forward. Nolan Arenado continued to play like one of the best players in the league, Carlos Gonzalez had a nice season and a few of the young Rockies made positive impressions. It’ll be good enough for third place in the NL West.
Like we’ll do with every eliminated team in our Game Over series, we’re about to examine what went wrong for the White Sox, what went right, what’s the best 2016 memory, what they need to fix and what the future might hold.
WHAT WENT WRONG
It’s the same story every year with the Rockies — pitching. And that’s not surprising since Coors Field is to hitters what Chuck E. Cheese is to 6-year-olds. The Rockies once again have one of the worst ERAs in baseball, ranking third-to-last at the time we’re publishing this. Though, this year’s 4.96 isn’t as bad as last year’s 5.04. Sooooo … progress? (Mike Oz)
WHAT WENT RIGHT
In their first full year without Troy Tulowitzki, the Rockies found new players to lean on. Rookie Trevor Story came from nowhere and bashed his way into the record books by hitting approximately a zillion home runs in his first handful of games. He had 27 homers before his season ended early due to ligament surgery in his thumb. Center fielder Charlie Blackmon has hit .321/.379/.549, which is his And of course, Nolan Arenado and Carlos Gonzalez were their dependable, awesome selves. In fact, Arenado will finish with at least 40 home runs for the second straight year.
Over on the pitching side, the Rockies have one starter who could finish the season with an ERA below 4, which hasn’t happened since 2013. His name is Tyler Anderson, he has a 3.54 ERA, and they might want to put him in a humidor for the offseason because he’s a precious, precious commodity. The Rockies are poised to finish 2016 with their best record since 2010, and for a team that plays a mile above ground, that’s no small feat. (Liz Roscher)
TOP OF THE FLAGPOLE (aka THEIR BEST MOMENT)
Before Gary Sanchez went on his home run tear, Rockies shortstop Trevor Story was the rookie who wouldn’t stop hitting homers. It started on Apr. 4 in a 10-5 opening day win over the Diamondbacks, when Story launched two home runs and picked up four RBIs in his major-league debut. It was the start of a six-homer stretch in his first four games, and Story ended up hitting 27 this season before a thumb injury ended it after just 97 games. For a rebuilding team like the Rockies, especially considering they traded star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki in 2015, Story’s power display gave them and their fans some hope for the future. (Israel Fehr)
CHANGES THEY NEED TO MAKE
Dare we say the Rockies don’t need to make major changes this offseason? Granted, a decision on Carlos Gonzalez’s future might be imminent, which would certainly change the dynamics of their offseason. But they have prospects like David Dahl and Raimel Taipia ready to step in of they make that move. Jorge De La Rosa’s remarkable tenure as the team’s ace seems to be over too, but with Jon Gray, Tyler Anderson and Jeff Hoffman in position, the rotation is in excellent shape. The bullpen, well, that’s a mess. Veteran additions like Chad Qualls and Jason Motte didn’t do much to enhance their ability to hold leads. If the Rockies have any hopes of contending in 2017, which isn’t far-fetched, it will undoubtedly hinge on plugging the bullpen leaks. (Mark Townsend)
WARP TO THE FUTURE
A number of promising Rockies rookies made their major-league debuts in 2016, and should play significant roles for the club moving forward. Dahl was easily the best of the bunch, hitting .315/.352/.502 over 216 at-bats. He could open next season as a middle of the order hitter.
Fellow outfielder Tapia didn’t look as strong in his debut, but should get a chance to join Dahl as a starter soon. The 22-year-old doesn’t walk a ton, but offsets that by hitting for high averages and rarely strikes out.
Trying to evaluate a Rockies pitching prospect can be a dangerous thing. Some players who put up dominant numbers in the minors seem to hit a wall upon reaching the high altitude in Coors Field. Jeff Hoffman is the next in line to put that to the test. The 23-year-old throws hard, so he can focus on blowing hitters away with speed as opposed to tinkering with breaking balls in a tough pitching environment. (Chris Cwik)
PREVIOUSLY IN THIS SERIES: Minnesota Twins, Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Rays, Los Angeles Angels, San Diego Padres, Cincinnati Reds, Oakland Athletics, Arizona Diamondbacks, Philadelphia Phillies, Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago White Sox
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