The Colorado Rockies are in an interesting position going into 2018. A position that most Rockies fans would kill for every year. They have a strong core of established award-winning talent, surrounded by young, unproven hopefuls. This sounds like a recipe for a contender … and it is. The problem is the rest of the National League West is also very talented.
The Rockies have a couple of glaring holes. Holes that have been well documented and yet to be addressed. The traditional thinking at 20th and Blake is that the Rockies need to go out and get high-caliber starting pitching if they want to have a shot at October baseball. After a number of years of drafting, trading, and developing well, the Rockies don’t need a top of the rotation arm. They have two or three, heck, maybe four, depending on how their development continues.
If the Rockies want to win in 2018, and at the moment, all the algorithmic projections have them worse than 2017, they need to address the offense.
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It’s been widely known that Ian Desmond didn’t pan out as hoped. Granted, he did have a couple of DL stints, and never really got rolling after that, but he still hit to the tune of a 63.2% ground ball rate. That’s a stat you don’t aspire to lead Major League Baseball in. Trevor Story turned his year around late, but led MLB with 191 strikeouts. Also not ideal. The catcher position was also very unproductive. It improved slightly with the addition of Jonathan Lucroy, but his departure this offseason leaves it in limbo again. The catching position for 2018 is still a question mark, even with the addition of Chris Iannetta. Iannetta isn’t exactly an offensive juggernaut, but he would appear on paper to be an upgrade of last year’s backstops. He doesn’t project to be a full-time starter though, as he’s never played more than 115 games in a season, and hasn’t broken 100 since 2014. That leaves 60-70 games to be filled by current Rockies, Tommy Murphy or Tony Wolters. Murphy has the biggest upside between the three of them, but he’s yet to show it at the Major League level.
Catching aside, the Rockies biggest issue is a corner bat. There’s uncertainty at first base and in the outfield. Carlos Gonzalez and Mark Reynolds both departed via free agency. Reynolds had a nice year at first base, and Cargo finally turned it on in September and salvaged what was on pace to be a horrible year. His right field defense isn’t what it was five years ago, but it’s serviceable and he still has a canon of an arm.
There are a couple ways this could play out. Desmond was brought in to play first base, but with the hot start from Mark Reynolds, he was largely relegated to outfield duty. Raimel Tapia and Ryan McMahon are slated to have the best shot at filling these spots. McMahon can play first base, second base and third base and with a red-hot 2017 at AA/AAA, he has a huge offensive upside. Tapia is likely your Charlie Blackmon successor in center field if Blackmon leaves via free agency in 2019. That brings us to a potential solution. Or at least, a solution that makes them even stronger contenders in 2018.