The Colorado Rockies season ended yesterday as they were swept by the Milwaukee Brewers in the NLDS. And the reason why they lost was a problem that most fans could see coming from a mile away but the front office neglected to do anything to improve it before the non-waiver or waiver trade deadline: their offense.
The Colorado Rockies problem has apparent to any onlooker without blinders on, whether it be a fan or not: their offense.
The people who think that the Rockies offense was fine will cite that the Rockies were second in the National League in runs, third in hits, third in home runs, third in batting average, and second in slugging percentage. However, when you adjust for the Rockies playing half of their games in Coors Field, you then realize that if the Rockies don’t lead every offensive category by about 15-20 percent over everyone else in the National League, their offense is really below league average when you use park adjusted statistics.
One of those stats is OPS+. The Rockies had an OPS+ of 90 (it was 96 if you take out pitchers). In a regular year, the average would be 100 but with a down year for offense (due in large part to the all-time strikeout record for a season being broken with a few days to spare in the season as well as 2018 being the first season ever where there were more strikeouts than hits), it was 97.
The Rockies were, by far, the worst team offensively in the Division Series. In fact, the team that came in to the DS with the next worst offense was the Brewers with an OPS+ of 99. The Rockies were 23rd in baseball in OPS+.
The Brewers were 12th.
Last season, when the Rockies failed to make it out of the National League Wild Card game, they also had an OPS+ of 90, which was 25th in baseball.
The front office did not do much of anything to improve it this past offseason as they signed Chris Iannetta and resigned Carlos Gonzalez (who was actually much better than last season). During this season, they added a nearly-retired Matt Holliday and a fourth catcher in Drew Butera (who had an OPS+ of 51 when acquired and wasn’t even carried on the NLDS roster).
Spoiler alert: it wasn’t enough.
Starting with and including Game 163 against the Dodgers last Monday, the Rockies have scored six runs in their last 50 innings of play. That’s an average of 1.08 runs per nine innings. It should also be noted that the Rockies were shut out in all but one inning in the NLDS (Game 1 in the 9th inning when Charlie Blackmon singled and Nolan Arenado hit a sac fly to score 2 runs and send the game to extra innings).
In the NLDS, as CJ Nitkowski noted on Twitter this morning, the Rockies offense in the series is one of the worst in the Division Series era (not including the strike shortened season and changed postseason format of 1981).
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Now, all due credit is to the Brewers pitching staff as well as they had an ERA+ of 110 this season, which was 9th in baseball so it’s not like they were facing the 118-loss Orioles but, let’s call it like we see it, the Rockies offense was utterly pathetic and was for much of the season.
It should also be noted that the Rockies pitching staff’s ERA in the postseason (not including Game 163 since it was a regular season game) was 3.18. And the reason why it was even that high was because the Rockies had five relievers with ERA’s of 4.91 or higher as some just weren’t good in the postseason (e.g. Harrison Musgrave, Wade Davis) and some just ran out of gas down the stretch (e.g. Adam Ottavino, who’s ERA was 5.50 in his final 18 games, including his 3 postseason outings).
This should be the wake up call that the Rockies front office needs to improve upon in the offseason. The Rockies also have a major problem offensively and with some of their offensive players like CarGo, Gerardo Parra, and DJ LeMahieu becoming free agents, they have a great opportunity to improve (whether it be by prospects like Brendan Rodgers or external options). However, Nolan Arenado is entering the final season of his contract.
The Rockies front office has now found themselves between a rock and a hard place.