According to published reports, another key contributor to the analytics side of the Colorado Rockies has left the organization.
Steve Merriman, who began last spring as the minor league pitching co-coordinator for the Colorado Rockies, will reportedly return to the University of Michigan to serve as the pitching coach for the Wolverines, a position he has held twice in the past. According to The Detroit News, the hiring will be made official toward the end of the week.
Within the article discussing Merriman’s move back to Michigan, it mentions how Merriman’s “affinity for data and technology made him a popular figure within the (Rockies) system.” Merriman brought his knowledge of data and analytics to the Double-A Hartford Yard Goats as their pitching coach in 2019. Toward the end of the season, Merriman was around the big league club, trying to help Rockies pitchers regain the form that helped the club to consecutive postseason appearances in 2017 and 2018.
Rockies MLB.com beat writer Thomas Harding details more of what Merriman meant to the organization in this article. Within the article, both Jon Gray and Kyle Freeland glow about what Merriman has brought to their attention on the mound.
Merriman’s departure follows the news from December reported by The Athletic (paid subscription) that four of the six members of Colorado’s research and development team have left the franchise since the end of last season. With analytics becoming a bigger part of Major League Baseball than ever before, teams like the defending World Champion Los Angeles Dodgers are using data and analytics to gain competitive advantages.
While there is a great focus on what the Rockies are trying to do on the field in terms of free agency and potential trades to improve the team and farm system, the franchise must do what it can to keep up with the rest of the league in terms of data-driven decisions as well. Merriman’s reported loss seems another step backward from that quest.