Colorado Rockies: Bud Black on the offensive improvements he hopes to see in 2020
On Wednesday, Colorado Rockies manager Bud Black spoke to media in morning (as he does daily) and one of the topics covered was his expectations for the Rockies offense in 2020.
By the traditional numbers, the Colorado Rockies offense had a good season in 2020. They were first in the National League in at-bats, hits, doubles, triples, and batting average, second in the NL in slugging percentage and total bases and fourth in runs. In almost every other category, they were in the top half of the NL.
However, if you look at the park adjusted numbers, those paint a very different picture. Their OPS+ was 87, which was 13th in the National League. Their wRC+ was similar as it was 86. Both of those numbers suggest that the Rockies offense is well below league average.
Be that as it may, by the park adjusted stats, nearly every season in Colorado Rockies franchise history had a sub-par offense, including all seasons in which they made the playoffs (if you exclude pitchers hitting, the 2007 and 2009 Rockies were above league average but with pitchers included, they were not).
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With the park-adjusted numbers looking at the Rockies unfavorably in 2019, Bud Black was asked on Wednesday what he expects the biggest changes are going to be.
"“Well, you know, I think the home-road difference last year was one of the bigger splits in [Rockies franchise] history and we addressed that,” said Black. “The guys, with [hitting coach Dave Magadan and assistant hitting coach Jeff Salazar], are talking about certain things that we’re going to try to improve on.“We’re talking specifically about chase rate, about what that means and how we want to go about it … That’s something that has sort of stood out for us and we think that just … that goal to improve [upon], incrementally, will be a big boom for our offense and the challenges of going from home to road for us, we’re doing some things physically with pitching machines and concepts we’re talking through will help [alleviate some the main issues].”"
Black further elaborated that reducing the chase rate, the players will be able to “add statistically to their slash line [and] to their numbers that we think will benefit them and the team …
"“Philosophically, it boils down to getting a good pitch in the strike-zone that you can hammer,” said Black."
Even with the Rockies offensive All-Stars, their chase rate was a problem. The league average on chase rate is 28.3 percent. Nolan Arenado‘s was 34.9 percent, David Dahl‘s was 34.8 percent, Charlie Blackmon‘s was 30.1 percent, and Trevor Story‘s was 28.5 percent, per Statcast. Only Tony Wolters, Ryan McMahon, and Ian Desmond were below the league average of the nine Rockies offensive players that had more than 400 plate appearances.
The disconnect between home and road splits that Black talked about were obvious too.
So it seems like the Rockies have at least identified two of the biggest issues with their offense. Now, it’s just a matter of fixing the problems.
Quotes via video from the Rockies PR team.