Over the next few weeks, we’ll be taking you through all 30 MLB teams, discussing their positives and negatives from the year that was. Regardless of how lopsided it may get, we will stay the course and ultimately determine whether or not their 2015 efforts resulted in a successful season.
The Colorado Rockies have two seasons with at least 90 wins in franchise history. Granted, that history only goes back to 1993, but those two years were 2007 and 2009. The last time the team finished over .500 was 2010. In the last five years, they finished last three times and forth twice—with 96 and 98 losses. Not exactly strong fourth place finishes. Ending 2015 with a 68-94 record, the Rockies had another sub-par year. Sort of.
In 2015 the Rockies scored the fifth most runs in baseball. Which, true to the thinking of Colorado as a launching pad, not to mention the spacious outfield, is to be expected. It’s not that the Rockies can’t score, but that just isn’t always enough.
Troy Tulowitzki has been the face of the franchise since the decline of the Todd Helton began. He has had issues staying on the field but when able, he’s been one of the best players in the game. In 87 games for the Rockies, Tulo hit .300/.348/.471 with 97 hits. In 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2014 the shortstop led the team in bWAR, which is in part the lack of help but also a sign of his missed time. Signed through 2020, he was traded to the Blue Jays for a package of players: Jose Reyes and prospects Jeff Hoffman and Jesus Tinoco, as well as 20-year-old Miguel Castro.
Carlos Gonzalez has been the other rock of the lineup. But his year was, well, weird. Gonzo’s overall line was excellent: 40 homers, 25 doubles, 150 hits and .271/.325/.540. At the end of May, the outfielder had just four home runs. Split into first half and second half: .259/.314/.452 vs. .285/.337/.638. He might be the next Rockie traded in an attempt to build a winner, but he could also be part of that team.
Tulo and Cargo had help this year: Nolan Arenado. With 42 homers—leading the team—and a .287/.323/.575 overall performance, Arenado set himself up as the best third baseman in the league, and in conversation for the best in all of baseball.
Corey Dickerson missed time but still hit .304/.333/.536 in limited time, just 65 games due to injuries. Nick Hundley hit .301/.339/.467 behind the plate, which was an improvement over the sub-.300 OBP Wilin Rosario.
The Rockies pitching staff allowed the most runs per (5.21), issued the most walks (579), allowed the third most homers (183), had the highest ERA (5.04), and the fourth fewest strikeouts.
No Rockies regular starter had an ERA under 4.00. Or threw 200 innings. Or even 150 innings, although Jorge De La Rosa came very close with 149. And he had a 4.17 ERA, which led the rotation.
Kyle Kendrick, Chris Rusin, Chad Bettis, Eddie Butler, and David Hale all struggled.
But it wasn’t all bad news. Prospect Jon Gray made nine starts with a 5.53 ERA but a 3.63 FIP. At just 23, he might become the ace of the staff sooner than later, and potentially could be an ace in more than the staff sense. In Baseball Prospectus 2015 he was described as having an “upper-90s heater and wicked slider” and could be the next great Rockies pitcher if all goes well. It’s a story we’ve heard before, but the Rockies don’t need an excellent rotation, just one that can keep their offense—which is considerable—in games.
Was it a successful season?
Colorado is at a crossroads: by trading Tulo (and adding Jose Reyes, prospects) they are taking a step towards the future. Of course, Reyes is a player who would be best served as part of a winning team now, and of course, has some other issues to deal with off the field.
Cargo is good now and Arenado is as well. Add Dickerson and Blackmon, and there is a nice lineup to work with despite their franchise player moving on. The pitching… it was bad. This was not a good year and given the pitchers who will return, might not translate into a better 2016. If 2015 was successful, it’s because the Rockies moved on from the Tulo era to try again—they don’t need to go Astros or Cubs-style, but they can’t keep punting the rotation and succeed.
Not in a home ballpark that they can use to abuse visiting teams.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs