Colorado Rockies 2016 Review

Sep 28, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado (28) and right fielder Hunter Pence (8) and shortstop Daniel Descalso (3) and center fielder Charlie Blackmon (19) and right fielder Carlos Gonzalez (5) celebrate after the end of the game against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park the Colorado Rockies defeated the San Francisco Giants 2 to 0. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Rockies made strides in 2016, finishing with a 75-87 record overall, and sticking around the NL wild card race until the end of the season. With further development from their young core and some solid free agent additions, the Rockies could be a sneaky team in 2017.

We’ll be talking about how the Colorado Rockies can improve next season with some offseason additions and tweaks to their roster a little later today, but for now we’ll take a look at the season that was for the Rox.

For the third straight season, the Rockies led the National league in runs scored, and with the infusion of young talent around Carlos Gonzalez and Nolan Arenado, that trend should continue next season.

The Rockies also bucked a trend that had followed them the past two years, which was having the worst staff ERA in baseball, climbing up to 27th with a team ERA of 4.91. The improvement over last year isn’t enormous as they held a 5.04 mark in 2015, but the upside that the stable of arms that the Rockies have right now is much better than in years past. With the additions of Jon Gray and Tyler Anderson, along with two more candidates in German Marquez and Jeff Hoffman, the pitching staff may become something of a strength for the club, if they can each continue to develop.

That said, the bullpen will need some work. For the season the Rockie relievers held a 5.13 ERA and an ERA- of 105, which is a bit worse than league average when adjusting for park factors. In the second half that ERA was a touch higher at 5.18 and their ERA- was 106.

One reason for optimism with the bullpen arms may be that they held the second-highest BABIP in baseball among relievers at .320, with the Twins bullpen being the only team to get BABIP’d more at .324. That said, the teams surrounding them didn’t exactly have good bullpens, while the teams on the other end of the spectrum were either playoff teams, or darn close.

Defensively the club was exactly average according to DRS (Defensive Runs Saved), which places them smack dab in the middle of the MLB rankings. Gerardo Parra was the worst defender on the team according to this metric, coming in at -8, and his bat certainly didn’t make up for his defense in the field. Parra walked nine times in 381 plate appearances for a BB% of 2.4, which was just edged out by A.J. Pierzynski‘s 2.3 percent as the lowest rate in the bigs among players with at least 100 plate appearances.

Sep 20, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jorge De La Rosa (29) looks up after being relieved in the fifth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Free Agents

Jorge De La Rosa has likely played his last game for the Colorado Rockies, as the 35-year-old will hit the free agent market following a season in which he posted a 5.51 ERA. De La Rosa has been a solid member of the staff since 2008, going 86-61 with a 4.35 ERA over nine seasons, but with the youth movement that’s happening in Colorado, he’ll be a casualty.

Righty reliever Boone Logan has been with the club since he signed as a free agent before the 2014 season. After a rough first year that saw him total 25 innings, the now 32-year-old has posted ERAs of 4.33 and 3.69, lowering his ERA with the Rockies to 4.64. His ERA- of 75 is well above average, rating between great and excellent according to FanGraphs grading scale. He earned a 0.8 WAR in 2016, which should make him an affordable option for the Rockies if they decide to make him an offer.

Catcher Nick Hundley is 33 and seems to have established himself as a clubhouse leader in his two years with the club. Tony Wolters is set to become the catcher of the future for the club, and with Tom Murphy and Dustin Garneau getting playing time last season, Hundley may be headed elsewhere this winter.

Mark Reynolds was a slightly above average defensive first baseman in 2016. He provided a league average bat. If the team decides to go after an upgrade, Reynolds could be looking elsewhere as well.

Daniel Descalso played all over the diamond this year, manning short, first, second, left and third base. While versatility has become a commodity for clubs these days, with Story slated to return to short, Cristhian Adames getting playing time in his own right and already under contract, and DJ LeMahieu installed at second, playing time would be hard to come by for Descalso.

Ryan Raburn isn’t going to be returning. With Carlos Gonzalez, David Dahl and Charlie Blackmon as the everyday outfielders, Parra still under contract, and Raimel Tapia set to get more playing time, the outfield is full.

Jul 9, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies manager Walt Weiss (22) looks on in the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Coors Field. The Rockies defeated the Phillies 8-3. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Coaching Carousel

After four seasons with the Colorado Rockies, Walt Weiss stepped down as the team’s manager shortly after the regular season ended. In four years under his guidance, the Rockies went 283-365, good for a .437 winning percentage. The 75 game win total they put up in 2016 was the tops of Weiss’ tenure with the club.

Hitting coach Blake Doyle, first base coach Eric Young, bench coach Tom Runnells and catcher/defensive positioning coach Rene Lachemann were also let go in order to give the new Rox manager the ability to bring in his own guys.

Who that new manager will be is very much up in the air, but with the Atlanta Braves job already filled, the Rockies have to be one of the top jobs on the market. The White Sox have some excellent pieces to work with but always seem to be stuck in limbo, and the Arizona Diamondbacks front office appears to be too meddlesome to get positive results. The Rockies appear to have a GM that will support his club, and the Rockies have too much young talent to ignore.

Bud Black has expressed interest in the managerial opening, and will likely at least get a look from the Rockies, but Jeff Bridich has mentioned that Triple-A manager Glenallen Hill could be an internal option for the club to consider, which would make a lot of sense since he has already coached a number of the newcomers to the Rockie roster. The downside of this hire would be that the Albuquerque Isotopes haven’t exactly excelled the last two years, compiling a combined 133-154 (.463) record.

Bud Black‘s expertise has been pitching, which could always use a second look in Colorado, and he won Manager of the Year back in 2010 with the 90-win San Diego Padres. Over nine seasons with the Pads, Black went 649-713.

Whomever the new Rockies manager ends up being, it could be a franchise-defining hire. If the team is looking to turn the page and make a climb towards consistent relevance, now is the time for that to happen. With Carlos Gonzalez being a free agent after next season, their offense could take a hit in 2018 if he doesn’t return. After the 2019 season Nolan Arenado is set to become a free agent. The Colorado Rockies have assembled the pieces that they need for the most part, now they just need a manager that can bring that all together–and they’re going to be working against the clock.

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