Editor’s Note: We continue with our Colorado Rockies 2019 season predictions series with the predictions of one of our contributors, Colin Gaiser. You can check out some of our other predictions in these two articles.
Back in January, I wrote that I was dreading the 2019 season. And it wasn’t just midwinter crankiness – we were in the midst of a bizarre offseason where I was straining to see the Colorado Rockies do anything to improve the club.
Maybe I’m just giddy for the season to start, but I am glad to report that that dread has been replaced by … well, not quite excitement. Let’s call it a “cautious optimism.”
My worst fear was a year of agonizing drama surrounding Nolan Arenado’s status after the season, and thankfully, Nolan and the Rockies buried the drama in early February with a big pile of cash. That’s made this spring all about the 2019 Colorado Rockies possess and the exciting potential this squad possesses.
Spring Training performances can be deceiving, but Ryan McMahon is raising eyebrows with a slash line of .439/.476/.789 in 57 at-bats in the Cactus League. Garrett Hampson is posting .286/.348/.643 with four home runs and seven stolen bases. And a healthy David Dahl is raking like a healthy David Dahl.
The kids are alright, folks.
This is the insurgence of youth that this lineup needs after a lackluster 2018. These were not the Blake Street Bombers. The Rockies went through some brutal hitting slumps that probably ended up costing them the NL West, and by the end of the regular season the team had a wRC+ of 87, 25th in baseball.
If Charlie Blackmon bounces back from a disappointing 2018, Daniel Murphy lives up to a ZiPS projection of .315/.365/.514 and Arenado and Trevor Story maintain their prowess at the plate, Drew Goodman will never have to speak those cursed words: “You just know this team is gonna hit.”
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Most Surprising Player: Bryan Shaw
As Nick Groke wrote in The Athletic, Bryan Shaw is putting in the work to try and rebound from a disastrous 2018, where he posted a 5.93 ERA, a career-high hard-contact rate of 39.1 percent and failed to make the Rockies postseason rosters. He and bullpen coach Darren Holmes identified some of his technical issues, and the results are encouraging: Between March 10 and March 19, Shaw had five scoreless outings where he allowed three hits, two walks and posted five strikeouts.
Shaw was too good for too long to crash out of the game altogether, and on the second year of a three-year, $27 million deal he will be motivated to rediscover the stuff that made him such a prized acquisition. I think Shaw will bounce back to be more like the 2017 version – 3.52 ERA, 7 percent walk rate, 23 percent hard-contact rate – which would be an instant upgrade for the Rockies bullpen.
Most Disappointing Player: Trevor Story
Maybe “disappointing” is the wrong word here, but expect some regression at the plate from Trevor Story after a season in the NL MVP conversation.
Story slashed .291/.348/.567 in 2018 while striking out 25.6 percent of the time (still high yet a massive improvement from 34.4 percent in 2017) and I think the strikeouts will catch up to his batting average. He will still hit around 30 home runs but won’t get on base at the same clip, leading to some frustrating stretches for the best shortstop in the National League.
Prediction: 90-72 record, NL Wild Card appearance
No one wants a third consecutive Wild Card appearance, but I still fail to see the Rockies dethroning the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers are already too deep before this year’s Max Muncy rakes his way into our nightmares.
The Rockies will visit the runner-up of the loaded NL East – I predict the Atlanta Braves – and get bounced in the Wild Card game.