Rockies Pitch

A baseball newsletter

DEC. 16, 2022, 10:12 A.M.

Rockies Pitch: A Colorado Rockies Baseball Newsletter

On Tuesday, Thomas Harding broke the news that the Rockies had signed right-handed pitcher Pierce Johnson. It soon emerged that the deal is $5 million for one year with $750,000 of incentives.

Bill Schmidt has been clear that the Rockies needed to add to their bullpen, especially with the loss of Carlos Estèvez and Tyler Kinley’s injury that will keep him out until mid-season. (In case you’ve forgotten — and no one would blame you if you did — the Rockies bullpen had MLB’s highest ERA last year, a miserable 4.82.)

That raises the question of what the 31-year-old righty brings to the Rockies as they continue to accumulate pitchers who learned to throw at elevation.

Start at the Beginning: Who Is This Guy?

Actually, it’s a pretty interesting story.

A native of Denver, Pierce Johnson attended Faith Christian Academy in Arvada. In 2009, he was drafted in the 15th round by the Tampa Bay Rays but instead opted to attend Missouri State. While with the Bears and majoring in business, Johnson was solid, finishing his junior year with an ERA of 4.76 over 75.2 innings.

In 2012, he was drafted in the first round (43rd overall) by Theo Epstein and the Chicago Cubs, signing for $1,196,000. (That’s a year before they drafted Kris Bryant.) He worked his way through the Cubs’ system and was added to their 40-man roster in 2015. In 2017, he was moved to the bullpen and in May made his MLB debut. It lasted one game (he gave up to unearned runs in an inning of work) before being sent back to the minors and ultimately being DFA’d.

Then, in September of 2017, the San Francisco Giants claimed him on waivers. He played with the Giants for two months before finding himself shuttling between the MLB team and the farm. In total, he threw 43.2 innings for the Giants.

In November 2018, he declared free agency and signed with the Hanshin Tigers of Nippon Professional Baseball in an attempt to re-set his career. While with the Tigers, he pitched 58.2 innings for an ERA of 1.38, including 91 strikeouts and 13 walks. (He was also a Central League All-Star.)

Here’s what Johnson says of his time with the Tigers:

“Everywhere I’ve been someone was like, ‘Let’s change this, let’s change that . . . I tried to be coachable and I think that was my downfall. I tried to please everyone when I should have focused on myself and what worked for me.”

He added: “I was filling up the zone more (in Japan). I was in better counts. I just did everything to help myself on the field instead of nibbling here and there and then I’m behind in the count and now guys know a fastball is coming. There, I was ahead a lot and that was my mentality.”

(There’s a pretty amazing story here about his wife needing to return to Colorado for a C-section at the time the Tigers were in the playoffs. Johnson found himself shuffling between the US and Japan while all this was going on. “It was a really hard month for us,” Johnson said. “The month of October was a blur.”)

In December of 2019, he signed a two-year contract with the San Diego Padres for $4 million. Actually, Johnson’s family had some history with the Padres. In the late 90s, his father, Don, had worked as the vice president of marketing for the Padres. Even though Pierce Johnson and his wife were Colorado residents, they had deep roots in Southern California.

And he was good. He struck out 104 in 78 2/3 innings with only 36 walks and an ERA of 3.09.

However, 2022 brought an interruption. Johnson suffered right elbow tendinitis that had him on the IL from April through September. During the season, he appeared in only 15 games — and he was not good, earning a 5.02 ERA, striking out 21 and walking eight. However, in three postseason games, he was for real: In 4 1/3 innings, Johnson struck out six, walked zero, allowed no runs, and watched opponents hit only .143 against him.

As a free agent, he went on the market, ultimately signing with the Rockies.

How Does the Stuff Look?

It’s good. He has a curveball (his favorite pitch — he throws it 64.1% of pitches) and 95 mph four-seam fastball (38.6% of pitches). He also has a sinker and a cutter, but he doesn’t use them much. Consider some specifics.

Twitter avatar for @qopbaseballMLB Quality of Pitch @qopbaseball

#Rockies Pierce Johnson 2022 Curveball Quality ⭐️ 4.71 QOPA (Top 27% MLB) ✅ Velocity (Top 6%) 🔥 Location (Top 13%) 🎯 Low Rise (Top 21%) Horizontal Break (Top 44%) @hardingatmlb



8:38 PM ∙ Dec 13, 2022

In fact, here he is in action.

Twitter avatar for @ReneeDechertRenee Dechert @ReneeDechert

Pierce Johnson

mlb.comPierce Johnson’s two strikeouts | 10/11/2022Pierce Johnson hurled two scoreless innings in relief for the Padres and collected two strikeouts while allowing no hits4:35 PM ∙ Dec 13, 2022

The question is whether it will play at elevation.

Here’s what’s interesting: He’s been effective at Coors Field, appearing in 11 games and facing 44 batters. He gave up six hits, and the batting average when facing him was .158. — and he never gave up a run.

How Will the Rockies Use Him, and Is the Bullpen Better?

Probably, he’ll be looking to earn the set-up job for closer Daniel Bard, but you probably already knew that.

And, yes, the bullpen is looking better: Jake Bird, Lucas Gilbreath, Dinelson Lamet, Justin Lawrence, Brent Suter, and Daniel Bard.

Clearly, they need more, but the Rockies are accumulating an experienced group of relievers, with three members of their pitching staff from Colorado.

It’s a good move though I think the Rockies aren’t done yet.


Daniel Bard has joined Team USA.

Read more here. The WBC is going to be fun.

Old Friends

What I’m Reading

★ ★ ★

Sorry this week’s newsletter is short — the end of the semester has just been brutal. I’m looking forward to the break.

Thanks for reading —


@ReneeDechert (Mastodon) ★ @Renee.Dechert (Instagram) ★ @ReneeDechert (Post)

It’s another move to shore up their pitching depth.

Renee Dechert

Jan 20, 2023

On Tuesday, the Colorado Rockies announced they had made a trade with the Boston Red Sox. 

Twitter avatar for @RockiesColorado Rockies @Rockies

We have acquired right-handed pitcher Connor Seabold from the Boston Red Sox. The 40-man roster is currently full.

Welcome to the Mile High City, Connor Seabold RHP

6:13 PM ∙ Jan 17, 2023

In doing so, the Bill Schmidt continues to make good on his September statement that the Rockies would be on the market for pitching in the offseason. And before going into the details of Connor Seabold, it’s worth noting that the Rockies have signed 16 pitchers who are at a range of MLB levels and asking what he brings to the Rockies’ system.

Okay, Who Is This Guy?

The almost-27-year-old, right-handed pitcher (his birthday is January 24) attended high school in Newport Beach, California, and was drafted in the 9th round of the 2014 draft by the Baltimore Orioles. However, He chose instead to play for California State University, Fullerton from 2015-2017.

He was successful with the Titans and was named to the All-Big West Conference Team in multiple years. He also played in the Cape Cod League, where his team, the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox, won the league championship in 2017. 

Seabold finished college with a 2.89 ERA in 280 innings with a WHIP of 1.104 and an HR/9 of 0.5. 

In the third round of the 2017 MLB Draft (83rd overall), he was selected by the Phillies and began working through their system. He was traded to the Red Sox in August 2020.

On September 11, 2021, Seabold made his MLB debut against the White Sox in Chicago where he allowed two runs on three hits in three innings. After that, he was sent back to Worcester. He spent most of 2021 and 2022 with the Triple-A Worcester Red Sox, pitching in 140.2 innings and earning a 3.39 ERA, so not bad. His 2022 season ended when he developed a right forearm extensor strain.

His stints in Boston were less impressive. After five starts with the Sox, he had an eye-popping 11.29 ERA though he struck out 19 batters and walk 8 in 18.1 innings. 

His time with the Red Sox came to an end on January 12 when he was DFA’d to make room for Corey Kluber. This week, the Rockies agreed on a trade with the Red Sox for either a player to be named later or cash.

That Seems Pretty Standard. How’s the Arm?

There’s promise. He has four pitches: a four-seam fastball (fairly unremarkable), changeup (very remarkable), and slider (it’s fine) with a curveball (rarely thrown). (Read the Baseball Savant analysis here.) 

Actually, see for yourself:

There was one concerning report from Alex Speier out of Boston that suggested Seabold was ignoring the instruction of manager Alex Cora: “Sox want to see Seabold increase his changeup usage this game compared to his earlier starts, see that as a swing-and-miss weapon that can help him navigate an order more than once.”

Seabold instead decided to trust his fastball, throwing 47 as compared to 24 sliders, 13 changeups, and one curveball.

Cora said of the outing, “The pitch mix, we still have to work on it . . . .We cannot be so fastball heavy, especially in the division that we play (in). It’s a good first step. The fastball played early on. The slider was better than expected than the one I saw early in the season. The change-up is still one that we want to see a little bit more often. But overall, a solid (outing).”

If Seabold has proven difficult to coach, that may explain the willingness of the Red Sox to DFA him. It would also present an issue for the Rockies. 

While Connor Seabold has spent most of his career as a starter — and he will clearly be vying for a starting job in Spring Training — the Rockies could use him out of the bullpen as well. Since he has one option remaining, he could also start the season in Albuquerque. 

Can You Tell Us Something Interesting?

Oddly enough, not really. I pride myself on being able to find interesting stories, but I really couldn’t here. Connor Seabold got married on November 4, and he spent time on Maui in December. He has two younger brothers who names also being with “C,” but that’s about it. 

Is This a Good Move?

Yes. The Rockies need pitching, and in Connor Seabold, they’ve added another arm with potential. Scott Neville has called Seabold “a talented arm that has yet to put it all together.” If he can put it together in Colorado and learn to trust his changeup, it may prove to be an excellent move. 

Down on the Farm

Old Friends

Twitter avatar for @aalyssacohenAlyssa Cohen @aalyssacohen

Not sure if anyone’s reported this yet, but Raimel Tapia is signing with the Boston Red Sox.

4:33 AM ∙ Jan 19, 2023

Weekend Walk-off

Next year’s schedule will see MLB teams playing each other at least once. Joe Doyle considered the travel implications:

Twitter avatar for @JoeDoyleMiLBJoe Doyle @JoeDoyleMiLB

New MLB rules will have every team playing each other at least once. Will have a huge impact on total travel. Here are winners and losers w/2022 comparisons: Giants: +11,084 Cardinals: +8,752 Athletics: +8,609 Brewers: -3,131 Rangers: -4,572 Tigers: -7,498


4:51 PM ∙ Jan 19, 2023

The Rockies will be seeing an increase in their miles traveled in 2023, but check out the 51,000+ miles the Athletics will log. Be sure to bring along a good book.

Thanks for reading —


@ReneeDechert (Twitter) ★ @ReneeDechert (Mastodon) ★ @Renee.Dechert(Instagram) ★ @ReneeDechert (Post)

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There’s a new “Nolan” on the Rockies’ roster.

Renee Dechert

Nov 18, 2022

The news broke on Tuesday:

Twitter avatar for @RockiesClubInfoRockies Club Information @RockiesClubInfo

The Rockies announced today that they have acquired INF/OF Nolan Jones from the Cleveland Guardians in exchange for Minor League INF Juan Brito. Colorado currently has 39 players on the 40-man roster.

12:54 AM ∙ Nov 16, 2022

In addition to trading Sam Hilliard, re-signing José Ureña, and avoiding arbitration with Dinelson Lamet, the Rockies traded for a lefty outfielder. Here’s what Eno Sarris said:

Twitter avatar for @enosarrisEno Sarris @enosarris

Nolan Jones for Juan Brito is lowkey fascinating. Jones strikes out too much (especially for Guardians) but batted ball stats excellent in small sample. Brito makes contact & has patience but pulls everything w/out power you normally see with that approach. Trade to remember.

1:08 AM ∙ Nov 16, 2022

How intriguing — which raises two questions: Who is Nolan Jones, and what might the Rockies be thinking?

What’s His Story?

A native of Bensalem, Pennsylvania, Jones, now 24, attended Holy Ghost Preparatory School where he was a shortstop. He committed to the University of Virginia before being drafted by the Guardians in the second round of the 2016 draft and receiving a $2.25 million bonus. That’s serious money, which suggests the Guardians had big plans for Nolan Jones — and, to be fair, he was seen as one of the best hitters in the 2016 class.

After that, he worked his way through the Guardians’ farm system as a top prospect. In fact, in 2019, he led MiLB in walks with 95, and he played in both the Futures Game as well as the Arizona Fall League's Fall Stars Game. As MLB Pipeline put it, “Jones exudes patience at the plate, waiting for pitches he can hammer and taking walks if pitchers decline to challenge him.” 

He missed the 2020 season (who can forget COVID?) and then had an uneven 2021: He got off to a slow start in Triple-A, but worked things out as the summer went on before suffering a high-ankle sprain in late August that required surgery and ended his season. 

While all this was going on, the Guardians were moving Jones from shortstop (because a 6’5” shortstop probably isn’t going to work) to third and then a corner outfield spot given that third base is pretty much owned by José Ramírez for the foreseeable future. 

After finishing 2021 in Triple-A, Jones began 2022 there and had a solid showing, with nine home runs in 248 plate appearances and a .276/.368/.463 slashline. Short version: In Triple-A, Jones showed power and plate discipline with an unsettling K% of 28.4%.

Source: Baseball Reference

Nolan Jones made his MLB debut on July 8, 2022, in a game against the Royals. It was unremarkable, and the rest of his season was mixed at best. He finished the season with a 93 wRC+ and a slashline of .244/.309/.372 in 28 games, including two home runs. But he struck out a lot — as in 33% of his plate appearances. In August, he was sent back to the Clippers, where he finished the season.

And now, he’s a Rockie. 

Why would the Rockies make this trade? As Bill Schmidt told Patrick Saunders, “We liked him when he came out of high school and he’s a good athlete with some power . . . . He gives us a left-handed bat, which we needed. We are a little bit heavy from the right side. He’s a corner infielder with a strong arm and has also played some outfield.”

Added bonus: He still has a minor-league option.

How Will the Rockies Use Him?

Pretty clearly, the Rockies are trying to find that lefty-hitter Schmidt alluded to in his season-ending presser, and perhaps Nolan Jones fits that bill. Consider for a second how he would compare to the Rockies 2022 outfielders. (And remember that Jones, Toglia and Bouchard are all in small-sample-size territory, so the comparison here is not exact.) 

Here’s what FanGraphs shows:

Source: FanGraphs

As measured by wRC+, Jones would have tied with Yonathan Daza for second as the Rockies’ most-valuable outfielder; his 0.2 fWAR makes him fourth most valuable. (Okay, the bar is low.) He hit two home runs in 94 plate appearances, which ties him with Toglia, Hampson, Hilliard, and Daza, all players that had more opportunities. 

And get this: Jones had a 35.2% GB% — that would be the lowest of any Rockie outfielder. (Michael Toglia is next with a GB% of 37.3%.) His Barrel%? That would be 14.5%. (A Barrel % of 15 is considered elite.) No other Rockie even makes double digits in this category with Sam Hilliard coming the closest at 9.2%. Jones also had the best HardHit% at 49.1%. (Hilliard’s was 48.7%.) 

Short version: If Nolan Jones can get the strikeouts under control — and that’s no small matter — he has the potential to hit with power at Coors Field, and that’s something the Rockies need. But he could also be the next Sam Hilliard.

Defensively, he had a DRS of 1 in right field, which is fine, but the arm is for real. See for yourself:

Twitter avatar for @BallySportsCLEBally Sports Cleveland @BallySportsCLE


12:34 AM ∙ Jul 27, 2022

Can You Tell Us Something Interesting?

You know, I can. Nolan Jones was an excellent hockey center until concussion issues forced him to focus on baseball. His brother Peyton, though, continues the hockey tradition, playing four years at Penn State before being drafted by the Colorado Avalanche and playing for the Eagles. (He is currently a goaltender for the Belfast Giants.) 

What’s the Future Hold Then?

That’s always a good question, and since we’re talking about the Rockies here, the future is especially murky. However, let’s assume that the Rockies intend to platoon Nolan Jones in the outfield. His splits against lefties are not good, and his high strikeout rate suggests that the Coors Effect could be a real issue. But I expect him to see regular playing time. 

At this point, I’d probably hazard the Rockies outfield will be Kris Bryant (LF), Randal Grichuk and Yonathan Daza (CF), and Nolan Jones/Charlie Blackmon (RF). Let’s also not forget Brenton Doyle and Sean Bouchard in all this because they’ll be competing for spots. I expect Michael Toglia to begin 2023 in Albuquerque to get more reps in the outfield and to keep working on his swing. (Of course, the additional complicating factor in all of this is Zac Veen, a lefty outfielder, but I don’t expect to see him until mid-season.) 

And another outfield trade does not seem out of the question, perhaps involving either Yonathan Daza or Randal Grichuk. 

As moves go, I like this trade — and for this team, it’s a much better than signing Brandon Nimmo. 

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  • Let’s hear it for Vinny Castilla!

Twitter avatar for @RockiesColorado Rockies @Rockies

Congrats to Vinny Castilla for being inducted into the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame!👏

Vinny Castilla being inducted into the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame (Salón de la Fama del Beisbol Profesional de México)

Vinny Castilla being inducted into the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame (Salón de la Fama del Beisbol Profesional de México)

Vinny Castilla being inducted into the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame (Salón de la Fama del Beisbol Profesional de México)

Vinny Castilla being inducted into the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame (Salón de la Fama del Beisbol Profesional de México)

4:31 PM ∙ Nov 15, 2023

What I’m Reading

Weekend Walkoff

  • If there’s an athlete better at self-promotion than Peyton Manning, I’m not sure who it would be. He seems just seems so good natured and willing to try anything.

Twitter avatar for @OmahaProdOmaha Productions @OmahaProd

Dingers only. (cc: @Rockies)

1:13 AM ∙ Nov 14, 2022

Now we wait for the non-tender announcements and the coming collapse of Twitter. 

Thanks for reading —


@ReneeDechert (Mastadon) ★ @Renee.Dechert (Instagram)

The best one does not involve a big free-agent signing.

Renee Dechert

Nov 4, 2022

In his season-ending presser, Bill Schmidt was clear: In the offseason, the Rockies would be looking for a left-handed bat, a centerfielder, and someone who could slug along with some pitching depth — and the subtext suggested that, ideally, one player would meet all three criteria. That makes sense because the Rockies offense was not good in 2022. (An 86 wRC+, anyone?)

The conventional wisdom initially was that Schmidt was hinting at soon-to-be free agent Brandon Nimmo, a New York Met and former resident of Cheyenne, Wyoming. (In fact, Skyler Timmins has written a nice analysis about Nimmo as a potential Rockie, which you can read here.) 

Initially, I agreed. But in the last two weeks, I’ve changed my mind. 

In fact, I’m not sure that I expect the Rockies to do much of anything about their outfield in this offseason, and here’s why: The kids are starting to show what they can do, and that may be changing the calculus of the Rockies front office. 

Who Are the Current Options?

Let’s start with the entire outfield because these players often play multiple positions. In 2022, the Rockies’ primary outfielders were Charlie Blackmon, Kris Bryant, Yonathan Daza, Randal Grichuk, Garrett Hampson, Sam Hilliard, and Connor Joe — and the Rockies control all of these players, save Blackmon, who has said he intends to return in 2023. 

Here’s how they fared in 2022 according to FanGraphs:

Source: FanGraphs

A few notes are in order. First, Blackmon only spent 50 games in right field, so he’s only nominally an outfielder. Second, I do not expect Hampson, Hilliard, and Joe to be back on the Rockies’ roster next year given their performances in 2022. I think the Rockies will want to spend that money elsewhere. 

Third, the Rockies really believe that Kris Bryant’s injuries damaged their 2022 changes. We’ll never know, but let’s agree that the Rockies are better with Kris Bryant than without him. That means under this scenario that the Rockies could start 2023 with an outfield of Bryant, Daza, Grichuk, and Blackmon. 

I suspect when Bill Schmidt spoke with the press, the Rockies really did intend to pursue a center fielder in the offseason, but that calculus has been complicated by a number of factors.

Factor 1: Some of Their Prospects Surprised Everyone

Consider the play of Wynton Bernard, Sean Bouchard, and Michael Toglia. To be clear, these players fall into small-sample-size territory, and some of their performances weren’t stellar overall, but here are their late-season numbers.

Source: FanGraphs

Sean Bouchard hit more home runs that Hampson and Hilliard did, despite their having significantly more plate appearances. Toglia’s numbers, too, while not as impressive as Bouchard’s, are an improvement over Hampson’s and Hilliard’s. Although Bernard’s fate is uncertain (and I won’t be surprised if the Rockies non-tender him), he is a true center fielder, and he was defensively sound. Plus, Bouchard and Toglia aren’t going anywhere.

When these players play — and at least two of them will — they take up outfield positions — and that’s before considering the possibility of Alan Trejo becoming a utility player, including an outfielder. (It’s part of his offseason training plan.) 

If the Rockies acquire another outfielder, an already crowded outfield becomes even more congested. 

Factor 2: Brenton Doyle

Perhaps you haven’t been paying much attention to Brenton Doyle, but you should. 

The Rockies drafted Doyle in the fourth round of the 2019 draft out of Shepherd University, a DII school. He’s described by MLB Pipeline as “a super-toolsy and athletic outfielder.” (Did I mention he won a Gold Glove for his centerfield defensive work?) 

However, Doyle’s work at the plate has been uneven. For example, he led the Pioneer League in OPS in 2019 but was then a bit uneven and struggled early with the Yard Goats — plus, he strikes out too much. Still, he excelled from mid-June until the end of the 2022 season. Doyle had a SLG of .450, a .737 OPS, and hit 29 home runs — 26 of them in pitcher-friendly Hartford. Here’s an ABQ sample: 

Twitter avatar for @MiLBMinor League Baseball @MiLB

No. 21 @Rockies prospect Brenton Doyle connects on a pair of mammoth dingers for the @ABQTopes.

4:11 AM ∙ Sep 27, 2022

Doyle also stole 23 bases.

In his October 18, 2022, newsletter, Thomas Harding wrote this of Brenton Doyle: 

“There was even internal consideration to bring him to the Majors for the final days.

“The Rockies seek a center fielder to boost the Major League lineup at the start of 2023, but the future could be in the system. While most eyes are on Veen, Doyle could earn his shot first.”

In other words, Doyle is close. Why would the Rockies sign a center fielder when Doyle is almost MLB-ready? It would make more sense to let Daza, a perfectly serviceable center fielder, start in center with plans to promote Doyle quickly. (And, again, if the Rockies sign a center fielder, it would clog the way for Doyle.)

Factor 3: Zac Veen

I knew Veen was good, but I did not expect him to be this good or to move through the system this quickly. I’ve written elsewhere about Veen as the new face of the franchise. That was on October 11. Since then, Veen has gotten better and has been named an Arizona Fall League All-Star. 

He has appeared in 16 AFL games, slashing .377/.480/.475 with an OPS of .955. He has stolen 14 bases, getting caught only twice. (The entire Rockies team stole only 44 bases in 2022. Veen by himself stole 55 in Fresno and Hartford.)

Here’s Sam Dykstra from earlier this week: “With long and lithe limbs, Veen is willing to push the envelope whenever he’s presented an opportunity, and he might only be less than a year away from assuming a leadoff spot in Denver.”

Don’t miss that last bit: “assuming a leadoff spot in Denver.” The Rockies are about to have in-house options for their center fielder, left-handed hitter, and leadoff batter. Signing a free agent or making a trade seems like a bad decision. 

And there’s one more thing: Veen has flair. Perhaps you saw him stealing a base after a walk? (Sorry, Brandon Nimmo, but Zac Veen is going to give you a run for your money.) I’ve written that in addition to toning up his game, Veen needed to learn how to handle the media before he was MLB-ready, and he’s gotten practice in the AZL. This interview — which you should watch — is a case in point. 

Twitter avatar for @ReneeDechertRenee Dechert @ReneeDechert

Zac Veen discusses a number of topics here.

mlb.comZac Veen talks Fall League | 11/02/2022MLB Central has Zac Veen on to discuss his experience in the Arizona Fall League, stealing bases, World Series thoughts, and more4:58 AM ∙ Nov 3, 2022

Meet the new face of the franchise. The Rockies paid a lot of money to Kris Bryant to do this — and I get why — but I think the former NL MVP is going to find himself supplanted by a lanky, fearless basestealer with a mustache, mullet, and fondness for smiley faces. 

Reader, I am here for it. 

Final Thoughts

I suspect the Rockies had a plan (kind of) involving the next window, but their player development — especially Zac Veen’s — is forcing them to rethink their strategy. 

To be clear, the Rockies are going to make some minor moves, and they are going to tell us they intend to compete, but 2023 should be about two things: Letting young players get experience and working out the pitching jam in which they find themselves.

I don’t expect Zac Veen to break Spring Training with the Rockies — I think he’s headed to ABQ. But I expect him to be called up early in the season because, let’s face it, Zac Veen is beating on the doors of Coors Field, and the Rockies absolutely need to let him in. 

What I’m Reading

Weekend Walkoff

Zac Veen rules. 

Twitter avatar for @ReneeDechertRenee Dechert @ReneeDechert

Zac Veen makes the most of Halloween.

mlb.comTop prospects take BP in costumes | 10/31/2022Pedro Pages, Jordan Walker, Zac Veen and Parker Meadows get in the holiday spirit by taking batting practice in their Halloween costumes4:58 AM ∙ Nov 3, 2022

I’m telling you: He’s the new face of the Rockies franchise.

The World Series is almost over, and the GM meetings are less than a week away. Bring on the hot stove season. 

Thanks for reading —


The Rockies are paying him a lot of money in 2023, but is it well spent?

Renee Dechert

Oct 28, 2022

Let’s start with the money because, as Dick Monfort likes to remind fans, the Rockies are a small-market team that operates within a budget. (We’ll save whether the Rockies actually are a small-market team for another day.)

According to Spotrac, here are the players making $9 million or more in 2023:

Source: Spotrac

I want to focus on Charlie Blackmon, the Rockies’ 36-year-old DH/right fielder, who will be the second-highest paid player on the payroll. That seems like a lot to pay a player in the twilight of his career, which raises a question: Is Charlie Blackmon worth that much money in 2023?

The Numbers

Here’s Blackmon’s 12-season career as shown by Baseball Reference:

Source: Baseball Reference

Blackmon’s best year was 2017, but since 2020, his offensive numbers have seen a steady decline. For the last two seasons, his OPS+ has been below 100. Notice as well a similar decline in home runs, though he did hit more in 2022 than in 2021. 

Last season, Blackmon spent significantly more games as a DH (80) than as a right fielder (50). Before the season began, Bud Black said the Rockies would do a “DH by committee,” but that isn’t really what happened. Charlie Blackmon is the Rockies’ DH. When comparing him to other designated hitters, Blackmon (89 wRC+) was ranked 13th, third in the National League behind Justin Turner (123 wRC+) and Andrew McCutchen (98 wRC+). Although Blackmon is a Silver Slugger finalist, the National League DH position was not terribly competitive in 2022.

That’s a long way of saying that Charlie Blackmon, while still solid, is not the player he once was, and although he’s still a very capable baseball player, he’s probably not worth $18 million dollars.

Or is he?

The Image

Regardless of his declining wRC+, Charlie Blackmon remains one of the most recognized athletes in MLB and certainly in the Rockies’ organization: The beard, the mullet, the little boy going viral for shouting, “There’s Charlie Blackmon!” The brand is strong.

In other words, maybe if you don’t have a very good baseball team (which the Rockies have not for the last four seasons), but you want to have very good attendance (which the Rockies consistently do), you need something more than baseball to bring fans out to the park. 

One of those things is Charlie Blackmon.

Here’s a case in point. 

I attended the Rockies’ last home stand against the Padres in September. The Friday night game was tied after a Juan Soto home run in the 8th. Coors was packed — it was, after all, a lovely Friday night with fireworks following the game. The fans were there, but they weren’t especially attentive, even though the game merited their attention. 

In the bottom of the inning, Michael Toglia hit a lead-off double, giving the Rockies a chance to take the lead. Bud Black removed a slumping Connor Joe from the game. And then the music started:

🎶 “Josie’s on a vacation far away / Come around and talk it over.” 🎶

Coors Field erupted as Blackmon walked to the plate and fans sang along, shouting, “TONIGHT!” 

In an anticlimactic moment, Blackmon went on to strike out with the Rockies eventually winning in the 10th after an Alan Trejo walk-off single. But it was the Charlie Blackmon electricity that stayed with me.

And it raises this question: Is that what the Rockies are paying for with their $18 million dollars?

To be clear, Charlie Blackmon brings leadership, experience, and a proven work ethic to the Rockies’ clubhouse. Plus, he’s clever and funny. Should this command the second-highest salary on the payroll? 

It’s also worth noting that surely 2023 will be the Chuck Nazty Farewell Tour with all the fanfare that accompanies a long good bye — and all those festivities will attract fans.

He’s clearly planning ahead. This year, Blackmon become the first active MLB player to have a sportsbook partnership, so it’s not like Blackmon is heading into the next phase of his life without options. 

But it’s difficult to see Blackmon’s lengthy and lucrative contract as anything other than the Rockies overpaying to keep a fan favorite on the payroll — and just to be clear, Charlie Blackmon has earned his place as one of the all-time great Rockies. He’s a contributor, yes, but the data suggest that he will not be an $18 million contributor. 


  • Brendan Rodgers has had a very good year. 

Twitter avatar for @RockiesColorado Rockies @Rockies

Congrats to Brendan Rodgers (2B) and Charlie Blackmon (DH) on being named #SilverSlugger Finalists!



2:50 PM ∙ Oct 27, 2022

Down on the Farm

  • Most of the MiLB news right now is from the Arizona Fall League, but this Zac Veen play is just special. 

Twitter avatar for @MLBazFallLeagueMLB's Arizona Fall League @MLBazFallLeague

Have you ever seen a player work a walk and steal a base on the same pitch? Well, @zacveen did just that! Watch as the @Rockies prospect shows off his blazing speed! #AFL22

10:16 PM ∙ Oct 26, 2022

Old Friends

  • With his season over, Trevor May is spending more time on social media. I thought you might enjoy his tweet about former Rockie Adam Ottavino.

Twitter avatar for @IamTrevorMayTrevor “IamTrevorMay” May @IamTrevorMay

This is an Adam Ottavino appreciation post.

6:32 PM ∙ Oct 23, 2022

What I’m Reading 

Weekend Walk-off

On this World Series weekend, it’s gotta be Kyle Schwarber. 

Twitter avatar for @matttadelphiam @matttadelphia

kyle schwarber riding the x finity live bull after the phillies become national league champions is legendary. (🎥 @/jaiclifton on IG)

4:20 PM ∙ Oct 24, 2022

The rodeo athletes I work with would be mortified, but when you’re going to the World Series, the form seems less important. 

Thanks for reading —


He’s the prospect no one saw coming.

Renee Dechert

Sep 30, 2022

“I think there’s something there with Sean Bouchard” — Ryan Spilborghs

Lost in all the fanfare of calling up Michael Toglia and Ezequiel Tovar was the Rockies’ decision to add outfielder Sean Bouchard, 26, to their MLB roster. Bouchard has not been one of the Rockies’ more-celebrated prospects like Zac Veen, Drew Romo, and Adael Amador, but his contributions thus far point to some intriguing possibilities.

Remind Me: Who Is He?

The native of San Diego graduated from Cathedral Catholic High School before attending UCLA for, as Bouchard put it, the “incredible academics, athletics and geographic location.” According to the UCLA Baseball website, Bouchard admires Derek Jeter and enjoys surfing and music. 

At UCLA, he primarily played first base. (Sound familiar?) In 2017, he made the All-PAC-12 team after batting .306 with 39 homers (the most on the team) and 43 RBI. He also led the Bruins in extra-base hits (27) and home runs (9). He was drafted by the Rockies in the ninth round of the 2017 MLB draft, making him the 266th pick overall. Michael Toglia’s first year at UCLA was 2017, so the two overlapped one year. 

How Was Bouchard in the Minors?

Even though Sean Bouchard was not a prospect Rockies fans paid much attention, he’s been good, hitting well at every level as he climbed through the Rockies’ farm system. The Rockies moved him from first to the outfield where he thrived. Here are his numbers according to FanGraphs:

Source: FanGraphs

Notice that every years he’s had a wRC+ of more than 100 with his time in Albuquerque being exceptional. It’s also worth pointing to his increased BB%, which almost doubled since 2021 as his hitting numbers have steadily increased. 

“I always feel like I’ve been a king of Jack-of-all-trades player,” Bouchard told KRQE, “so it’s nice to be able to put up the kind of numbers I have so far. At the end of the day, I’m just trying to keep it as simple as possible and just take nice, easy swings.” Clearly, his approach has worked.

When Did He Get Called Up and How Has It Gone?

He made his debut on June 19, going 0-3 with a walk. However, Bouchard soon suffered an oblique injury after going hit-less in three games and was sent back to Albuquerque. In 69 (nice!) games with the Isotopes, he hit 15 doubles, 6 triples, and 20 home runs for an OPS of 1.039, the highest on the team. 

He knows that taking quality at-bats matters. “Whether or not you’re a guy that hits homers, a guy that moves the ball around the field or takes walks, whatever it is the goal is to have good at-bats, know what the pitchers are trying to do to you and almost use that to your advantage,” Bouchard told Thomas Harding.

Consider the results. Bouchard has started the last eight games and walked at least once each game for a total of 11 walks. Only Todd Helton has a longer streak. Actually, he’s walked 18 times and struck out 16 times, which impressive. He’s only had 72 plate appearances in 21 games, but he also has a 26.4% walk rate with a slashline of .288/.472/.423 for a wRC+ of 149. As Luke Hall has pointed out:

Twitter avatar for @OakTreeStatusLuke Hall @OakTreeStatus

Sean Bouchard has more walks in 68 plate appearances than Joshua Fuentes had in his MLB career.

Twitter avatar for @OakTreeStatusLuke Hall @OakTreeStatus

Sean Bouchard has walked more times this season than Jose Iglesias

11:00 PM ∙ Sep 29, 2022

He also has two home runs and nine RBI, with the most recent last night:

Twitter avatar for @ATTSportsNetRMAT&T SportsNet™ | RM @ATTSportsNetRM

.@seanbouchard says bye bye 💣 @Rockies

4:34 AM ∙ Sep 30, 2022

Granted, this is all small-sample-size territory, but he currently leads the Rockies in wRC+ (149), BB% (26.4%), and OBP (.472). We’ve not yet seen the speed (12 stolen bases) and power (20 home runs) that Bouchard showed in Albuquerque, but both are clearly there. 

Here’s how he compares to other Rockie outfielders:

Source: FanGraphs

After appearing in only 21 games, he’s tied for the Rockies’ second most-valuable outfielder as measured by fWAR. Again, small sample size, so at this point, it’s risky to make any sweeping generalizations, except to note that the numbers support Ryan Spilborghs’ assessment of Bouchard’s skill so far. 

Final Thoughts

After the starting rotation, the Rockies’ outfield is probably the biggest question for 2023. This year’s outfield has not been good, and I expect to see significant changes there over the offseason. Bouchard is making a case for himself to be one of those changes. 

Down on the Farm

  • Some accolades for catcher Drew Romo: 

Twitter avatar for @spokaneindiansSpokane Indians @spokaneindians

Spokane Indians backstop @drewromo23 was selected as the best defensive catcher in the Northwest League by @BaseballAmerica. #GoSpo


8:08 PM ∙ Sep 27, 2022

54Likes7Retweets * Brenton Doyle is mashing some baseballs since being promoted to Albuquerque — and I appreciated the very personal perspective of this video: 

Twitter avatar for @DufreneDoyleAndrea Dufrene-Doyle @DufreneDoyle

@ABQTopes #odoylerules #offthescoreboard #sorrypitcher #weallknewit #amateurvideo #greatseats

4:01 PM ∙ Sep 27, 2022

Old Friends

  • The Cardinals are officially headed to the postseason. I thought this Jesse Rogers piece captured the interesting dynamic between Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt. 
  • RIP Isotopes Hill.

Twitter avatar for @ABQTopesAlbuquerque Isotopes @ABQTopes

So long, Isotopes Hill. Thank you for 20 years of unforgettable memories.


4:54 AM ∙ Sep 29, 2022

What I’m Reading

Weekend Walk-off

Speaking of Alan Trejo, let’s take a moment to appreciate that impressive homer he hit in San Francisco on Wednesday:

Twitter avatar for @ATTSportsNetRMAT&T SportsNet™ | RM @ATTSportsNetRM

💣 by the bay.... @Rockies within 1 in the 5th!

3:28 AM ∙ Sep 29, 2022

The Rockies’ plans for Trejo are one of the storylines I’m most interested in following.

Thanks for reading —


Trevor Story’s absence doesn’t help, either.

Renee Dechert

Jul 1, 2022

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the Rockies’ tendency to hit ground balls, an especially self-destructive tendency when a team plays half its games at Coors Field. Currently, the Rockies have the third-highest GB% in baseball (46.1%). They narrowly trail the Cubs (46.5%) and the Nationals (46.4%) for this honor. 

Since then, I’ve been thinking about double plays — specifically, how do the Rockies compare with other teams in terms of hitting into double plays, and which players on the team are most apt to hit into a double play? What I found surprised me.

Do the Rockies Have a GDP Problem?


Just as a refresher, a GIDP (ground into double play) “occurs when a player hits a ground ball that results in multiple outs on the bases.” They most often take place on hard-hit ground balls, and it follows that the odds of a GIDP increase when the ball is hit by a player who is a slow runner.

Let’s start with 2021 to provide a contrast. Last year, the Rockies hit into 98 double plays, resulting in their having the 25th fewest GIDPs in baseball. (The Rays had the fewest with 75.) The league average was 111, so the Rockies were a very good team by this measure. 

However, in 2022, the Rockies have already hit into 67 GIDPs, roughly two-thirds of their 2021 total. Currently, the Rockies are second only to the Nationals with 72. (Interesting note here: The Diamondbacks have hit into only 38, the third fewest in baseball while the Dodgers have hit into only 43.) 

This shouldn’t be a surprise. Logically, it follows that when a team is hitting a lot of ground balls, they also increase their chances of hitting into double plays — and if anything kills offensive momentum, it’s a double-play. Right now, the Rockies need all the offensive help they can get, but the high number of GIDPs illustrates another way in which they are failing, especially in comparison to their NL West counterparts. 

Which Rockies Are the Biggest Offenders?

This is where things get interesting. 

(Before going further, let’s keep Elehuris Montero out of this discussion — he just hasn’t had enough opportunities — but I also wanted to leave his data in this table to provide an early benchmark.)

This table shows individual opportunities to hit into double plays followed by the number of instances in which that happened. Those numbers are then converted to a percentage. 

Source: Baseball Reference

Charlie Blackmon has had the most opportunities to hit into a GIDP (78), but has done so only 4 times for a GIDP% of 5.1%. (The league average is 10.0%.) CJ Cron is close behind Blackmon with 76 opportunities, but a considerably higher GIDP% of 13.2%. So Charlie Blackmon is exceptionally good at not hitting into double plays. (Hold that thought. I’ll come back to it in the next section.)

Contrast that with Yonathan Daza and José Iglesias, who are both having good years in terms of making contact and hitting singles. However, Daza has a GIDP% of 14.3% while Iglesias’ is 17.0%. Both are much higher than Blackmon’s. With this in mind, Bud Black’s consistent use of the Blackmon in the second spot in the batting order makes sense as does placing Iglesias further down the lineup.

Almost as good as Blackmon is Kris Bryant, though we’ve seen little of him due to injuries. Still, at this point, Bryant is well below the league average of 10.0%.

Consider the other two players who are below league average: Sam Hilliard and Ryan McMahon. Hilliard is currently in Albuquerque because he’s having trouble making contact. That said, when he has the opportunity to hit into a double play (which has happened 33 times in 2022), he has done so only twice. One other weird thing: Ryan McMahon has had 46 opportunities to hit into a double play this season but has hit into only one. Connor Joe may be the Greatest Rockie Ever, but Ryan McMahon is much better at avoiding rally-killing double plays — and they’ve had equal opportunities.

It’s also worth noting that Garrett Hampson is just barely above league average at 10.5%, which strikes me as close enough. 

That means that eight Rockies are above league average in terms of hitting into double plays. Who are most apt to hit into a GIDP? The first is Elias Díaz (27 opportunities, for 5 GIDP or 18.5%), who is struggling offensively.

Brendan Rodgers, who is slightly behind Díaz in GIDP% (18.2%) has had 66 opportunities and grounded into 12 double plays, like this one:


mlb.comBrendan Rodgers grounds into a double play, third baseman Max Muncy to second baseman Gavin Lux to first baseman Freddie Freeman. Kris Brya…Brendan Rodgers grounds into a double play, third baseman Max Muncy to second baseman Gavin Lux to first baseman Freddie Freeman. Kris Bryant out at 2nd. Brendan Rodgers out at 1st.9:33 PM ∙ Jun 30, 2022

The Rockies need more offense, and one way to do that is to reduce the number of double plays they hit into.

How Do the Rockies Compare in Terms of Speed?

Remember: The second factor that influences a double play is speed, and when it comes to being fleet of foot, the Rockies are a bit whatever. According to Baseball Savant, the average sprint speed in MLB is 27 feet/second. So, half of the Rockies’ roster is above average in terms of speed, and half is below average. 

Source: Baseball Savant

It makes sense, then, Hampson, Hilliard, Blackmon, and Bryant, four of the fastest Rockies, also have a lower GIDP%. Of course, Iglesias and Daza are also fast players, but they still have a high GIDP%, so speed isn’t everything. 

But it’s also a big difference between Charlie Blackmon and CJ Cron: Blackmon is just faster, so he beats out double plays more often than Cron does. 

Did You Stumble Onto Anything Interesting While Writing This?

You know, I did — two things, actually. The first oddity builds on the piece I wrote last week about Charlie Blackmon as an effective designated hitter. 

This graphic from Baseball Savant illustrates by position how Rockies players compare to other teams in terms of speed. The Rockies are the colored dots on the chart, and I’ve tagged Charlie Blackmon.

There’s nothing too revelatory here: The slow players (e.g., Rodgers, Cron, Díaz, McMahon) are slower than average when compared to other players in their positions. But look at Charlie Blackmon, who is one of the fastest designated hitters in baseball. Only Andrew McCutchen, Harold Ramirez, and Shohei Ohtani are faster than Blackmon. 

Charlie Blackmon may not like being a designated hitter, but he’s good at it — and his speed makes him more effective and reduces the odds that he will hit into a double play.

Here’s the other interesting note. In 2021, Trevor Story had the opportunity to hit into 116 double plays, but he only did seven times for a GIDP% of 6.0%, the lowest on the team for anyone with a minimum of 250 plate appearances. (The league average was 9.6%.) That’s amazingly good. In 2022, however, Story has a GIDP% of 10.8%, so he’s not doing as well this year as last year (and that may be due to his slow start). That said, he’s just slightly above average, and I expect that to come down as the season plays out. Also, Story is better than his replacement, José Iglesias, at not grounding into double plays. In 2021, Iglesias had a GIDP% of 17.0%, so this is just part of his game. 

But it indicates another way in which the Rockies miss Trevor Story.

Final Thoughts

I don’t have any quick answer for this except to note — again — that a moribund Rockies offense needs to elevate the baseball. 

Down on the Farm

Twitter avatar for @RockiesClubInfoRockies Club Information @RockiesClubInfo

It was announced today by @MiLB that outfielder Jesus Bugarin has been named the Arizona Complex League's Player of the Week for the week of June 20-26. During that span, the 20-year-old went 7-for-16 (.438) with 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR & 6 RBI, putting up a 1.349 OPS and a .500 BAbip.


5:17 PM ∙ Jun 27, 2022

  • Aaron Schunk’s dad has talent!

Twitter avatar for @ericschunkeric schunk @ericschunk

My sketch of the @GoYardGoats Dunkin Donuts Park (plus handiwork on the ball I got to throw out to Aaron on Father’s Day). Did the drawing over a two-game period, totaling about 2 hours. @RealSlimSchunky @Rockies @MiLB


12:40 PM ∙ Jun 28, 2022

Old Friends 

What I’m Reading, Watching, & Listening To

Weekend Walk-off

For Avalanche fans, this was an epic week. For Rockies fans, it was great to see the Avs and the Stanley Cup at Coors Field and moments like this one involving Avs superfan Kyle Freeland. 

Twitter avatar for @ATTSportsNetRMAT&T SportsNet™ | RM @ATTSportsNetRM

Nailed it @GabeLandeskog92 and @KFREE_21 ! #GoAvsGo #Rockies

1:03 AM ∙ Jun 30, 2022

This week also provided Rockies fans with a bitter reminder of how the team’s ownership has failed them. The Commissioner’s Trophy isn’t coming to Denver anytime soon. 

Thanks for reading —


It’s bad. 

Renee Dechert

Jun 17, 2022

Last Saturday, Manny Randhawa tweeted this about the Colorado Rockies’ offense: 

Twitter avatar for @MannyOnMLBManny Randhawa @MannyOnMLB

29th in GB rate, 26th in hard-hit rate. Not a recipe for success. Hit the baseball hard, children. Hit the ball hard and in the air.

Twitter avatar for @RockyMountainBKBryan @RockyMountainBK

I feel like the Rockies, for the bazillionth year in a row, hit way too many ground balls. It’s infuriating. Haven’t checked the stats but they’ve gotta lead the league or are close to the top in GB%. Yuck.

10:50 PM ∙ Jun 11, 2022

I realize the Rockies currently have a 27-37 record, which is not the mark of a good team, but the tweet made me wonder just how bad the Rockies are offensively. The answer is straightforward: very bad. The causes, however, are less obvious.

You’ll remember that in 2021, the Rockies had the league-worse offense in baseball as measured by wRC+ (82). The front office recognized the problem and re-signed CJ Cron and traded for Randal Grichuk in an attempt to address a lack of offensive power. 

The initial results were promising with the Rockies 13-10 on May 1; however, they did not last as the Rockies muddled through much of May and the first half of June. After being swept by the Guardians yesterday, the Rockies have lost their last seven consecutive games at Coors Field. 

I’ve written before about the effect errors are having on the Rockies — they now also have 13 consecutive errors in games at Coors Field, a team record — and I’ve also discussed the Rockies’ need for an “action guy” given changes to the 2022 baseball. But right now, I’m interested in attempting to quantify how ineffective the offense has been.

Bud Black recognized this problem in his post-game media availability on Tuesday: “But overall, our power is lacking. When you look at our roster, and you look at the names and what they’re capable of on the power side, right now we’re not producing the power that we anticipated.”

It’s worth considering that power in more detail.

League Comparisons

Let’s first compare the Rockies to other MLB teams in terms of offense. 

Right now, the Yankees have a league-high wRC+ of 119 followed by the Mets’ 115. The Dodgers are fourth with a wRC+ of 113. For comparison, the Rockies have a team wRC+ of 88, better only than Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Oakland. The low wRC+ indicates that the Rockies have not been good at creating runs.

Consider another metric: home runs. The Yankees have hit the most home runs (100) followed by Atlanta with 97. The Rockies are 24th with 54 home runs. Once again, they are not optimizing playing baseball at elevation.

It’s worth spending a moment on an “anti-power” metric: ground-ball rate (GB%). Clearly, hitters with a higher GB% tend to hit fewer home runs since they’re keeping the ball mostly on the ground. In case you’re wondering about the Rockies’ GB%, it’s still the highest in the league at 47.2%, with Washington second worst (barely) at 47.1%. The team with the lowest GB%? That would be the Dodgers at 38.1%. 

If we look at hard-hit percentage (that is, balls that are hit harder than 95 mph), Atlanta leads the league with a Hard% of 36.4%. The Rockies, in contrast, are 24th with a Hard% of 28.6%. 

To summarize, the Rockies do not consistently hit the ball in the air, and they do not hit the ball hard, a recipe for disaster (or a record of 27-37).

Team Statistics

That’s how the Rockies as a team compare. Now let’s consider individual players. 

Here’s what FanGraphs shows as of Thursday. 

Source: FanGraphs

Currently, CJ Cron is the Rockies’ most valuable player — and it’s not close. He leads the team in fWAR, home runs, SLG, and wRC+. Even then, however, Cron’s home run hitting has slowed since the beginning of the season, though he remains in the MLB top 20 in terms of home runs. (Aaron Judge leads MLB with 25.) And the second-best home run hitter on the team? Charlie Blackmon with 10, which no one saw coming.

The surprise contributors as measured by wRC+ are Brian Serven (though he’s still in small-sample-size territory), Yonathan Daza, and José Iglesias. Daza and Iglesias have shown consistent ability to get on base. No one, I would argue, is surprised by Connor Joe’s effectiveness at the plate.

The mysteries? Brendan Rodgers and Ryan McMahon. The Rockies need Rodgers and McMahon to be productive, but that just hasn’t happened. (Mario DeGenz has more on McMahon here.)

The disappointments? Sam Hilliard, Randal Grichuk, and Elias Díaz. These players were supposed to hit, but Grichuk and Díaz are slugging below .200, and while Hilliard has power, he also has the second-highest strikeout rate. In June, he’s gone 0 for 20 with 10 Ks. Being able to hit the ball hard isn’t especially helpful if a player cannot make contact.

I also wanted to focus on ground-ball rate and hard- hit percentage. 

Source: FanGraphs

Five of the Rockies hitters have a GB% of more than 50%, and Díaz and Daza are above 49%, though Daza gets a pass on this one as his propensity for slapping singles is working. Also, note the player with the lowest GB%: CJ Cron.

Perhaps most unsettling, however, is the fact that Randal Grichuk has become a consistent ground-ball hitter since arriving at Coors Field — as in the player with the fourth-highest GB% in baseball. (If it’s any consolation, he’s hitting the ball hard as he hits it into the ground.) Last year, Grichuk’s GB% was 39.7%, and his career average is 39.5%, so his experience with the Rockies is inconsistent with his career performance.

To provide a GB% comparison, this year, Nolan Arenado’s GB% is 28.5% (the lowest in his career and the third lowest in baseball); Trevor Story’s is 33.1% (which is fairly typical for him); and Raimel Tapia’s is 49.6%, his lowest GB% since 2019. Mike Trout has the lowest GB% in baseball at 23.7%.

To be clear, the Rockies are hitting the ball hard: McMahon, Hilliard, Rodgers, and Grichuk are all hitting the ball harder than Cron is. The problem is where they’re hitting the ball, which is on the ground.

Coors Field handsomely rewards players who hit the ball hard and in the air. But despite their best efforts, the Rockies have constructed a team that struggles to elevate the ball, a fact reflected in their record.

What’s Going on Here?

The Rockies’ offense problems are not new.

Yesterday, Randhawa tweeted this: 

Twitter avatar for @MannyOnMLBManny Randhawa @MannyOnMLB

So the three worst offensive seasons, by team OPS, in the 30-season history of the Rockies are as follows: 28. 2021 (.731) 29. 2020 (.716) 30. 2022 (.709)* *Entering today

3:22 AM ∙ Jun 17, 2022

In terms of what can be done, who knows?

Maybe the Rockies need a new hitting coach. I’m hesitant to see a new coach as the mid-season factor that’s cures a team’s ills. That said, the Rockies’ offense has not been well served by Dave Magadan’s presence on their coaching staff. 

Perhaps the deadened 2022 baseball is affecting the Rockies, but if that’s the case, all teams should be equally affected, which hasn’t been the case.

Perhaps this points to a development issue, which would explain Connor Joe’s and CJ Cron’s success, but Randal Grichuk is not a product of the Rockies system, and he’s struggled the most.

Who knows?

Sam Hilliard has been sent to Albuquerque to sort out his issues, but the larger problems remain, and until the Rockies answer these very fundamental questions, they will continue to struggle offensively.

Down on the Farm

Old Friends

Twitter avatar for @psaundersdpPatrick Saunders @psaundersdp

I checked in with former #Rockies shortstop Trevor Story. Here's what he had to say about his transition to the… via @denverpost

denverpost.comTrevor Story’s self-belief helped him transition from Rockies to Red SoxBoston Red Sox second baseman Trevor Story seeks balance.7:08 PM ∙ Jun 12, 2022

  • Chi Chi González was DFA’d by the Twins and picked up by the Brewers. 

Twitter avatar for @NumbersMLBMLB Jersey Numbers @NumbersMLB

RHP Chi Chi González (@alexgonzalezchi) will wear number 21. Last worn by INF Travis Shaw in 2021. #Brewers


3:37 AM ∙ Jun 16, 2022

What I’m Reading, Watching, & Listening To

Weekend Walk-off

If something’s about Connor Joe, it’s probably awesome. This time, he drew the attention of Batting Stance Guy.

Twitter avatar for @BattingStanceGBatting Stance Guy @BattingStanceG

He beat cancer. Got on base 35 consecutive games and has glorious hair. Rockies ⭐️ Connor Joe. @cojo__18 @Rockies

9:00 PM ∙ Jun 14, 2022

There’s a reason he’s the Greatest Rockie Ever. 

Thanks for reading —


As problems go, it’s a good one, but the Rockies may have too many outfielders.

Renee Dechert

May 20, 2022

Kris Bryant is back!

On one hand, it’s excellent news. Bryant should improve an uneven Rockies offense. Besides, as Bryant has reminded us, he has never played on a losing team, and right now, the Rockies could use some of that winning mojo. On the other hand, the Rockies will finally have to confront a deferred dilemma: How do they ensure adequate playing time for five outfielders?

I’m going to approach this question in two parts. First, I want to examine the remarkable season one of those outfielders, Yonathan Daza, is having, and, then, I’ll look at Daza in light of his fellow outfielders.

The New-and-Improved Yonathan Daza

It’s taken some time, but Yonathan Daza has come into himself as a baseball player. His defense was never in question; the issue was his offense. Given the Rockies’ need to add power, they gave Daza an offseason assignment: Get stronger. As Thomas Harding explains:

In addition to the standard weightlifting for baseball, Daza said, his trainer in Venezuela, Aquiles Monteverde, introduced him to exercises in the pool. There was running and weighted activity in the water, but Monteverde — who worked with former American League Most Valuable Player Jose Altuve and former longtime MLB utilityman Martín Prado in their younger years — had him do freestyle swimming for power.

The work paid off as Daza reported to Spring Training noticeably bigger, going on to slash .464/.516/.464 in 28 at-bats. Offensively, he was transformed, a change that has continued into the 2022 season.

Even though the Rockies traded Raimel Tapia for Randal Grichuk, the more interesting comparison is between Tapia and Daza, given their similar styles of play. It’s worth taking a moment to examine their respective seasons, Daza in Colorado and Tapia in Toronto, even though the comparison is admittedly imperfect.

Source: FanGraphs

At this point, Daza is the better player — by a lot. (Did I mention he currently has an 11-game hitting streak?) Even though Tapia has appeared in more games and has significantly more plate appearances, Daza is by far the more valuable player. He walks more; he strikes out less; his slashline is significantly higher; and he has a positive fWAR. For players with at least 70 plate appearances, Daza’s OBP is fourth, behind Taylor Ward, Mike Trout, and Manny Machado. (The next highest Rockie is Connor Joe, who’s 36th.) Daza also has the second lowest K% in baseball.

Whether Daza continues to play at this level remains to be seen, but he has been a key offensive player for the Rockies, and his placement in the lineup — before CJ Cron, the first NL player to hit 10 home runs — puts the Rockies in a position to score runs. Here he is on Wednesday against the Giants:

Twitter avatar for @RoxGifsVidsRoxGifsVids @RoxGifsVids

Yonathan Daza ties up the game! Extends hitting streak to 11 games

9:36 PM ∙ May 18, 2022

“I can’t say enough about Daza. He’s been great,” Black said earlier this week, Kevin Henry reported. “He’s putting the ball in play, getting hits, and playing good defense. Currently, he’s making a statement, which is great to see. He’s playing really well.”

According to fWAR, Daza is the Rockies’ third most-valuable player, behind only CJ Cron and Ryan McMahon.

All of this is a long way of saying that Yonathan Daza has emerged as an unexpected key player for the Rockies. I initially thought Daza would be the most expendable — in fact, I expected him to be traded before the season began. Reader, I could not have been more wrong.

Outfield Traffic Jam

Now consider the Rockies’ available outfielders — and I’m going to include Kris Bryant because even though he had a slow start and hasn’t played much, the Rockies will certainly make him a lineup fixture.

Source: FanGraphs

Yonathan Daza is the Rockies’ most valuable outfielder right now. Obviously, he lacks the power of Grichuk and Blackmon, but in terms of getting hits and not striking out, Daza has been stellar. One problem is that Daza is hitting singles and not doubles, which would make him a more valuable player and one of Ken Rosenthal’s “action guys.” MLB’s decision to deaden the ball in an attempt to force more action may not have helped the Rockies’ sluggers, but it’s been perfect for Yonathan Daza.

He’s also the Rockies’ best outfield defender, and it’s not close. Daza has 1 Out Above Average, making him 36th in baseball. The next closest Rockie is Sam Hilliard at 76 with an OAA of -1. (The defensive play of Charlie Blackmon and Randall Grichuk is a story for another day.)

Even clean-shaven, Sam Hilliard has not yet emerged as the player the Rockies have hoped he would become. He and Daza have had almost equal plate appearances, so they’ve both been given similar playing times. His K% is still high (though Grichuk’s is higher yet). That said, he’s walking more, which is good, but walks aren’t hits, and the Rockies are looking to Hilliard for power.

Another positive sign for Hilliard is that he’s stolen two bases, tying him with Connor Joe for the lead in that category among the Rockies. However, before Hilliard can steal more bases, he has to get on base, and that’s not happening consistently.

The best way for Hilliard to improve is to see consistent playing time. Now the Rockies will need to figure out how to do that while balancing a very crowded outfield and trying to win games.

Down on the Farm

  • During Kris Bryant’s rehab stint with the Isotopes, he got to experience the automated strike zone MLB is exploring.
  • More good news from the Rockies’ farm system. First, Spokane’s Tony Locey was named the Northwest League's Pitcher of the Week, tossing six hitless, scoreless innings while striking out 10 on May 11. Hunter Goodman was also recognized.

Twitter avatar for @RockiesClubInfoRockies Club Information @RockiesClubInfo

C/1B Hunter Goodman of the @FresnoGrizzlies has been named by @MiLB as the California League's Player of the Week for the week of May 9-15. During that span, the 22-year-old slashed .462/.500/.923 with five runs, one double, one triple, three home runs and 13 RBI in six games.


10:46 PM ∙ May 16, 2022

Old Friends

  • Sam Howard’s time with the Orioles has ended.

Twitter avatar for @DetroitTigersPRTigers PR @DetroitTigersPR

The Tigers have claimed LHP Sam Howard off waivers from Pittsburgh and optioned him to Triple A Toledo. The Tigers 40-man roster is now at 39.

5:30 PM ∙ May 13, 2022

  • Rockies fans never doubted it for a minute, but Trevor Story’s slump has ended in a big way. He also, apparently, didn’t give away all of his Rockies gear.

Twitter avatar for @MattGross87Matt Gross @MattGross87

Anybody else notice that Trevor Story was wearing some of his old Colorado gear during his historic game at Fenway tonight? You can see his old No. 27 on his batting gloves and elbow protector.


5:30 AM ∙ May 20, 2022

What I’m Reading, Watching, & Listening To

Weekend Walk-off

Looking for a quick history of the Colorado Rockies as measured by WAR? Greg Harvey has you covered.

Twitter avatar for @BetweenTheNumsGreg Harvey @BetweenTheNums

Next up in the MLB Position Player WAR series are the @Rockies, who were formed in 1993. Check out all of your favorite Rockies position players throughout this graphic including @Cdnmooselips33 @CarGo5 & @Chuck_Nazty. @RockiesClubInfo @jaysonst @PurpleRow @JonHeyman

1:59 PM ∙ May 18, 2022

I’m off to Denver to brave Winter Storm Tad to cover a messy Rockies-Mets series this weekend. One thing you learn when you live in Wyoming: Never put away your Carhartts.

Thanks for reading —


It’s not just the the front office looking for a reset; the players want to be taken seriously, too.

Renee Dechert

Apr 22, 2022

For the last year, the Rockies have largely been defined by what they don’t have: Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, Jon Gray, competent leadership, an analytics department, a respected farm system.

Stories about the team tend to begin by focusing on players who are no longer with the organization rather than those who are. To its credit, the organization has attempted to address those on-the-field missing pieces — incidentally, the Rockies are ranked eighth in total offseason spending. That money paid for signing free agents Kris Bryant, Alex Colomé, José Iglesias, and Chad Kuhl in addition to signing extensions with CJ Cron, Elias Díaz, Kyle Freeland, Ryan McMahon, and Antonio Senzatela. With the exception of the Bryant signings, these have been unsexy moves, but the Rockies have tried to replace what was missing.

Still, the narrative of lack has provided an easy talking point.

Last week, I wrote about the Rockies using 2022 as the “UnArenado Year,” a time to change the narrative surrounding this team, and I still think that’s true. But over the course of last week, I began wondering if I had missed a key element of those involved in this attempt to shift the story: The players.

Here’s when I first noticed it.

After the Rockies defeated the Phillies on Tuesday night, CJ Cron was the subject of a Marc Stout interview. In this midst of that discussion, Cron, who is not an especially loquacious person, said something that struck me enough that I tweeted it.

Twitter avatar for @307ReneeRenee Dechert @307Renee

Cron just said in the post-game, “Everyone wants to be here. Everyone wants to commit.” No editorializing here. Just sensing a theme.

3:52 AM ∙ Apr 20, 2022

Here’s the full quote and video: “Everyone wants to be here. We want to commit. We want to win ballgames for this city.”

Two points are notable. First, Cron makes clear that he’s made a choice to stay in Denver; second, in mentioning “this city,” he’s tying that decision to the relationship the players have with fans.

Then, on Wednesday, after the Rockies had lost and were probably on a plane to Detroit, Alan Trejo liked the tweet, a suggestion of agreement.

That’s when I decided perhaps this was worth exploring. As it turns out, “I want to be here” is a theme. Consider a few examples:

  • Kris Bryant (April 3, 2022): “We’re in a division that is very, very competitive where they could just roll over and say we don’t really want to sign guys. But they did it with me and Ryan McMahon and Senzatela and Márquez. It says a lot about the people running the show here. I’m so glad this is my home. This is where I want to be.”
  • Kyle Freeland (April 20, 2022): “With Mac signing, I truly started to see everything shaping the way we want it, with Bill’s vision, with Dick’s vision and our front office. Obviously, Kris Bryant’s signing was massive and signing [pitcher Antonio] Senzatela last year. Those pieces started falling into place. I was starting to see the big picture, and it was something I wanted to buy into.”
  • Ryan McMahon (March 24, 2022): “When I sat down and thought about where I wanted to be and who I wanted to play with and who I wanted to be around, everything lined up with here, and I was just really excited that they reached out to me and wanted to do this. And, obviously, adding Kris Bryant helped, the deals we have Márquez and and Senza for at least another what, four or five years? So just knowing that all those guys were going to be around, and hopefully we do some more with some of the other guys here, and I'm sure sure we'll keep getting better.”

The specific language may change, but the sentiment remains the same: I have chosen to be here.

The last two years have surely been embarrassing (if not humiliating) for the Rockies ownership and front office. For fans, they have been demoralizing because they lead to comments like this:

Twitter avatar for @Clant1015Zach Clanton @Clant1015

I don’t know if Rockies fans, exist…but I’m truly sorry for you all. What are they doing?

2:05 AM ∙ Mar 17, 2022

Rockies fans do, in fact, exist, and they aren’t looking for pity: They’re looking for a winning team.

Perhaps, then, the players, too, feel a need to change the narrative. They are telling their peers on other teams and the media that Coors Field is not some Rocky Mountain Island of Misfit Toys, a team built of players with no other choice.

Rather, these players are asserting agency: That this team isn’t wrought by chaos; that not everyone is looking to leave; that they enjoy playing together; and that they believe they can compete.

We’ll know more about the viability of the 2022 Rockies when their first road trip has ended next week. But let me offer an utterly anecdotal observation about the shifting narrative.

Purple Row Twitter tends to be my fan barometer — the PR feed often finds itself on the receiving end of fan frustration. Since the 2022 season started with the Rockies winning, there’s not been so much “Too bad Dick Monfort paid the Cardinals $50 million to take Nolan Arenado” and “Remember, Trevor Story felt he had to leave to win” and “SELL THE TEAM, DICK,” and “Why did the Rockies sign Kris Bryant for all that money? They need to rebuild!”

Instead, fans are paying attention to what’s happening with the team and less to where those former fan favorites. It turns out, winning matters when it comes to changing the narrative.

Then there are games like this one against the Cubs:

Twitter avatar for @RoxGifsVidsRoxGifsVids @RoxGifsVids

The Rockies turned 5 double plays against the Cubs tonight

3:35 AM ∙ Apr 15, 2022

When the Rockies are doing things like ranking third in turning double plays, the defensive losses of Arenado and Story seem less acute — less personal.

When CJ Cron’s six home runs lead MLB (Nolan Arenado has five), fans start to think less about what was and more about what’s happening now and what may be. They begin to hope and invest in the team.

Right now, the early (and, again, anecdotal) indications suggest that the old narrative surrounding the Rockies is shifting — the players’ statements as well as their play on the field will be essential to the success of this undertaking.

However, it’s early. When the Rockies hit those low points — and they will because that’s how baseball works — then we’ll see how successful the organization has been in redefining itself.

By the way, an important part of the players redefining themselves involves losing the #RoadRockies label they earned in 2021. When a team finishes with a road record of 26-54 and an early possibility of being the worst road team in baseball history, it leaves a mark.

This video from the Rockies’ two-game sweep of the Rangers bears keeping in mind:

Twitter avatar for @RockiesColorado Rockies @Rockies


3:30 AM ∙ Apr 13, 2022

That the Rockies used this video on their social media shows that the team understands the stakes. That they have recognized this history — indeed, are ridiculing it — and are attempting to set it right is in alignment with “We want to be here.”

Narratives matter.

We’ll see how it goes in Detroit and then Philadelphia.

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  • I thought Mike Petriello’s take was right on the Kyle Freeland extension. Also, I’ve got to say that I’ve found it impossible to envision as with any team but the Rockies — his brand is so tied to being the “hometown kid.”

Twitter avatar for @mike_petrielloMike Petriello @mike_petriello

I like this for the Rockies. I think Freeland's a little overrated in that he's never going to be that 2018 guy again, but he's good enough and it's impossible for them to attract FA SP. If he wants to be there, you have him stay there.

Twitter avatar for @JeffPassanJeff Passan @JeffPassan

Left-hander Kyle Freeland and the Colorado Rockies are in agreement on a five-year, $64.5 million contract that includes a sixth-year player option, sources familiar with the deal told ESPN. Freeland, a homegrown player and Denver native, is staying home through at least 2026.

8:29 PM ∙ Apr 19, 2022

Down on the Farm

Twitter avatar for @blakestbanterBlake Street Banter ⚾🌮 @blakestbanter

He goes 98-98-96-89 to get the first out. Riley is still nasty

1:42 AM ∙ Apr 22, 2022

Old Friends

  • Some bad news for Greg Holland, but it’s good on the Rangers for letting him get 10 years of service time.

Twitter avatar for @ThreeTwoEephusLevi Weaver @ThreeTwoEephus

Greg Holland hit ten years of service time this weekend, and now he’s been DFA’d

Twitter avatar for @TXRangersPRTexas Rangers PR @TXRangersPR

Roster moves for Tuesday: – RHP Jon Gray activated from 10-day Injured List. – RHP Greg Holland designated for assignment. Gray will be the starting pitcher for the Rangers' road trip opener tonight at Seattle.

  • Tom Murphy will always the the former Rockie I’ll wonder about. (Then again, he’s clearly landed well in Seattle.)

Twitter avatar for @Mariners_SourceMariners Source @Mariners_Source

You probably won't believe this, but Tom Murphy has the 4th most fWAR for a catcher in Mariners history.

7:07 AM ∙ Apr 16, 2022

What I’m Reading, Watching, and Listening To

Weekend Walk-off

I enjoyed this interview with Randal Grichuk. (Also, RoxPile had a nice pice here on the Rockies’ new outfielder.)

Twitter avatar for @RoxGifsVidsRoxGifsVids @RoxGifsVids

Randal Grichuk talks about playing with the Rockies and more on Pregame Spread

11:54 PM ∙ Apr 19, 2022

It’s also worth noting that Grichuk had been prepped on the Rocky Mountain oysters question that tripped up Kris Bryant last week. Still waiting for the follow up from KB on that one.

Thanks for reading —