With the Atlanta Braves’ conquest of the Houston Astros in the World Series, the 2021 Major League Baseball season drew to a close. Accordingly, with the season complete, the Colorado Rockies media relations team issued on Thursday the team’s 2021 Season in Review statistical and notes package.
Perusing the document quickly rekindled memories of this past season for the Colorado Rockies which ended on a Sunday afternoon (October 3) in Phoenix when Arizona’s Josh Van Meter belted a two-out solo homer in the bottom of the ninth inning off Rockies closer Carlos Estevez to give the 110-loss Diamondbacks a 5-4 walkoff win at Chase Field.
The setback left Colorado with a final season record of 74-87 (a road game with the Braves scheduled for September 16 that was postponed due to inclement weather was not made up). The Rox ended up fourth in the five-team National League West Division, 32.5 games behind the 107-win division champion San Francisco Giants.
So, what must the team from 20th and Blake do to improve its fortunes in 2022?
The Season in Review provided by the Rockies communications staff offers several interesting notes. Let the stats speak for themselves.
Basic as they may be, here are three areas the Colorado Rockies need to address in the coming season.
Hitting better as a team, particularly on the road
With a .249 batting average, the 2021 Rockies set a club record for the lowest team batting average for a season in franchise history. The .249 mark was a substantial drop from the team’s previous lowest mark of .256 established in 2018.
In 2021, the Rox also set a new club mark for the lowest road batting average in a season in franchise history at .217, which was also lowest for a team in the Majors. Once again, Colorado smashed the franchise’s previous season mark for lowest road batting average, .225 set in 2018.
The Rockies .217 road batting average was the lowest by an MLB team for a full season in almost 50 years. The Chicago White Sox hit .209 on the road in 1972.
More consistent pitching, particularly from the bullpen
As a staff, Rockies pitchers compiled a 4.82 earned run average for the fourth-highest ERA in the National League and MLB’s sixth-highest mark. Opponents hit .260 against Colorado hurlers to rank 13th in the National League and 27th in the Majors (Baltimore stood last at .273).
The Rox bullpen’s 4.89 ERA was fifth-highest in the Majors. Rockies relievers allowed 39.0% of their inherited runners to score in 2021 to rank as the second-highest percentage in the National League (Philadelphia led at 41.8%) and the fourth-highest percentage in MLB.
Of note, Tyler Kinley permitted a career-high 42.5% of his inherited runners to score, the highest percentage in the National League and third-highest in the Majors. Robert Stephenson was close behind at 37.1% to rank third-highest in the National League and 11th-highest overall.
Score runs early (and often) to avoid playing from behind and relying on the walkoff
Of Colorado’s 74 victories in 2021, more than half (38) were come-from-behind affairs. By inning, Colorado was outscored by opponents in every frame during the course of the season (including extra innings) except for the fourth.
In particular, the Rockies had a penchant for trailing early. in 2021. Opponents outscored the Rox 283-217 in the first three innings of contests. The 66-run differential for the first three innings accounts for more than the 57-run advantage that opponents outscored Colorado this season (796-739).
Had the Rockies not set a franchise record this season with 12 walkoff wins (tops in the National League and tied for the most with in the Majors with Oakland), Colorado may not have been able to avoid a 90-loss campaign.