We put a poll out a day after the Colorado Rockies 2020 season asking who’s season was more disappointing: The Rockies or the Denver Broncos? The Rockies Twitter-verse was overwhelmingly decisive.
The results aren’t all that surprising considering the heavily Rockies-oriented audience, the sting of another lost season after starting so well, and that the Broncos are only three games through the season. But let’s compare where these two club’s fortunes went wrong and why ultimately the Rockies season is more disappointing, no matter where the Broncos finish up. Thank goodness for the Nuggets and Avs picking up the slack.
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The hot start first and foremost is why this season was so disappointing. After the Rockies started 11-3, they went 15-31. Look at this run differential bar graph. At the beginning of the season, the red bars were tiny. Towards the end, the bars were bigger than the Blake Street Tavern. The Rockies finished 28th in the league with -78, only ahead of Pittsburgh and Texas.
The more disappointing thing is that this largely wasn’t due to starting pitching for once. Antonio Senzatela truly was a standout, and Kyle Freeland and Germán Márquez had good seasons, with the former bouncing back tremendously from 2019. But that was about it. They had the second-worst bullpen in the majors with a 6.77 ERA only better than the Phillies (7.06 ERA). More surprising and befuddling was that this team simply couldn’t hit, and certainly not with runners in scoring position. Their .248 RISP average is the second worst in team history after 2011 (.245 average). That’s truly head-scratching.
The absolutely most disappointing player was Daniel Murphy. All the credit to Josh Fuentes for earning his spot at first base, but Murphy is the guy that the Rockies thought would be a better addition than DJ LeMahieu who is the only player in MLB history to earn the batting title in both the AL and NL. Not resigning LeMahieu has to be now officially the worst move in franchise history.
No more converted first baseman. It’s time to sign a proper first baseman in the offseason.
Trevor Story, Daniel Bard, and Ramiel Tapia (the latter to mostly with the bat) were about the only bright sides. Nolan Arenado was uncharacteristically not himself at the plate with a nagging shoulder injury. If the Rockies have the same record through 60 games next season as they did in 2020, it’s not hard to imagine that Arenado will be with another team and this era of the Rockies will officially be over. That’s why this is more disappointing than the Broncos. The Rockies winning window was bigger and it just seems squandered now.
Theoretically, this was the easiest opportunity to ever get into the postseason in the history of baseball with three additional spots available. The Marlins lost 105 games last year and are still largely rebuilding. If after the 11-3 start you had told us Miami would be better than the Rockies after the end of the season, we absolutely wouldn’t have believed it. Missing this great opportunity still hurts.
At least with the Broncos you can blame this season mostly on injuries. Von Miller and Courtland Sutton are most likely out for the season. We barely got to see Drew Lock develop after his strong finish to last season due to a shoulder injury. The Broncos are already on their third quarterback and aren’t a resounding favorite to beat the absolutely terrible New York Jets on Thursday night.
But the season is not over and hopefully we see this Broncos team get healthy and develop into a contender. Even if the Broncos do terribly all season, at least they get a draft pick that will help them almost immediately. With the Rockies, unfortunately, we’re already thinking about next season and not with a lot of optimism right now.