What would the Colorado Rockies have looked like with Nolan Arenado on the team in 2021?
With our calculated runs, we can estimate that the Rockies would have ended the season with 777 Runs For and 785 Runs Against for a record of between 80-82 and 81-81, a seven-game swing from where they ended the season.
The Colorado Rockies would remain out of the playoff picture but would have been only two games back from the Reds and nine games back from the Cardinals if they could have a similar season without Nolan, which I find unlikely, but it is still possible that they remain in the second NL Wild Card spot with a significantly worse record.
If we assume similar swings in loss of runs and DRS for the Cardinals, they would have ended the season with 668 Runs For and 678 Runs Against.
This would give the Cardinals a final Pythagorean Win-Loss between 79-83 and 80-82, worse than what the Rockies would have had if they kept Nolan. This means Cincinnati would have likely won the second WC spot and played the Dodgers in the Wild Card game.
It should be noted that St Louis’ Pythagorean Win-Loss WITH Arenado was actually 5 games lower than what their final record was. This just means that they won close games but get blown out when they lost. With that in mind, for our final analysis, let’s look at close games the Rockies lost and determine their maximum record if Nolan had remained with the team.
So, what we are going to do is first assume the Rockies score one more run in each game that they lost in extras, score two more runs in games they lost by 1, score three in games they lost by 2 runs, and so on until we have added the calculated 49 net runs for the Rockies.
The Colorado Rockies had 14 games go to extras this year and they lost half of them (7-7 record). The Rockies also lost 25 games by one run this season, we can apply all the remaining 42 runs here to give the Colorado Rockies an extra 21 wins.
If this very unlikely scenario were to happen, the Rockies would’ve won 28 more games for a final record of 102-60. That’s right. If by some miracle, Nolan Arenado stayed with the Colorado Rockies and produced similar to what he did in St. Louis, then the Colorado Rockies ceiling would have been its first 100+ win season.
And, even then, they would’ve still likely finished 3rd in the NL West behind the Dodgers and Giants. However, depending on which specific one-run games they win, they could’ve ended up at most 2 games ahead of the Dodgers and still remained three games behind the Giants for the division.
Even with stretches in fantasyland, the Colorado Rockies cannot win an NL West Division Crown.