How lucky are Colorado Rockies hitters actually getting?

DENVER, CO - JULY 15: Ryan McMahon #24 of the Colorado Rockies is congratulated in the dugout after hitting a seventh inning solo homer against the San Francisco Giants during game one of a doubleheader at Coors Field on July 15, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - JULY 15: Ryan McMahon #24 of the Colorado Rockies is congratulated in the dugout after hitting a seventh inning solo homer against the San Francisco Giants during game one of a doubleheader at Coors Field on July 15, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /
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The common misconception among the biggest critics of Colorado Rockies hitters will always be that Coors Field leads to such profound effects in raw statistics that any player putting up an awesome stat line should attribute it more to luck than skill. Sabermetrics can help us better determine how effectively a hitter performs, but even those stats can be somewhat misleading if you’re not comprehending them the right way.

So let’s take a look at how lucky some Colorado Rockies hitters are actually getting this season. We’ll start by looking at things like wOBA and xwOBA, examining the gap between the two stats, then delineate how accurate that gap actually is by looking at other peripheral stats that can help explain each player’s performance. They’ll be broken down into categories of Lucky, Somewhat Lucky, Unlucky and “True” to their numbers.

Below is a bar graph showing each Rockies player with at least 100 PAs this season. This shows how their wOBA (gray) compares to their xwOBA (purple) and will be the starting point of all the analyzing we conduct here.

Now, let’s dig into these numbers (all before play on Sunday) further:

Daniel Murphy: Lucky

Quite frankly, there is no one player who has been more lucky on the Rockies this season than Daniel Murphy. His wOBA is 46 points higher than his xwOBA, the second largest gap on the Rockies. Now some of that is Coors (since these stats aren’t park adjusted), but he’s been extremely fortunate. His Hard Hit Percentage of 30.5% is well below the league average of 38.0%. Furthermore, he’s only barreling up on 1.7% of all plate appearances (league average is 6.0%). That puts him above only Hampson (1.4%) and Wolters (0.0%) in terms of Rockies hitters. His saving grace is not hitting many ground balls (38.9% vs the league average of 42.9%).

His wRC+ is currently at 89. Players with a similar xwOBA vs wOBA gap are Alex Bregman (wRC+ of 165), Tim Anderson (wRC+ of 131) and Trevor Story (wRC+ of 119). The difference is all those hitters are getting more fortunate thanks to their raw power while Murphy is skating by with soft contact hits. He’s undoubtedly the luckiest Rockies hitter of 2019.

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