Can somebody please kick the Colorado Rockies bats? Throw them across the showers, toss them out of the dugout, something anything that will wake those sticks up! Seriously people, its week two and our beloved sluggers are struggling offensively. Some say it’s too early to panic, but with this sample size I am pushing the panic button.
Just like death and taxes, it’s a guarantee the Rockies will have one of if not the best offense in baseball. Yet here we are eleven games in and the team is hitting just .225. A full .53 percentage points lower than the April 2016 average. Also with a lower batting average comes lower runs scored, as the team has only plated 37 runs during this stretch.
It would be one thing if the team could look at the injuries to Dahl and Desmond, but their replacements have been overachieving. Spot starters and pinch hitters Stephen Cardullo, Alexi Amarista, and Christian Adames have all put good wood on the ball. Injuries will be a story on this season, but not with the bats so far.
Next it’s hard to look at the schedule and think they faced some overwhelming pitching staffs. Brewers, Dodgers, Padres. The Dodgers are the only of those three with a staff that requires extra studying for. This offense is built to mash on pitching from teams like the Brewers and Padres, then run into good pitches against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers. They did their job against Los Angeles, but struggled through the other two series.
Can’t say the power hasn’t been there with the club keeping pace with the rest of the league with 14 big flies. Pair that with 17 doubles and a slugging percentage of .416, all of a sudden the offensive number begin to look better. With those stats comes some less impressive numbers with 79 strikeouts against 34 walks. Those strikeouts aren’t the tops in the NL but does fall inside the top 5, which is not the place to be. The team is walking at a decent pace though, as the 34 walks put them in the top ten for the NL.
It’s hard to pinpoint where the blame should fall, but watch a game, the eye test will show you. If you get the chance to catch the game tonight, look at the swings the Rockies are taking. Back shoulders are dropping, adding lift to the swing, causing a boom or bust on contact. Boom or bust looking like either a homerun or fly ball, sprinkled with strikeouts on the bust side. The Rockies are 7th in the league in fly ball outs.
One thing we should note is the amount of defensive shifts put against some of the Rockies hitters. 2016 batting champ D.J. LaMahieu has struggled mightily with the shift this season. Towards the end of last season teams begin to catch on to D.J.’s approach to inside out hitting, taking the ball to opposite field. This season when he comes to the plate, you see a major shift towards the right side of diamond, leaving open field all across left field. Teams are daring LaMahieu to pull the ball, and judging by his swings, he is trying to do.
Lefties Charlie Blackmon and Carlos Gonzalez have also garnered the attention of the shift, but seem to have found space often. And even though Nolan Arenado’s homeruns are historically pulled to left and left center, teams rarely shift the future MVP (get used to it, I’m not going to stop). The rest of the lineup usually faces a straight up infield and outfield, which means the holes are there.
Maybe I’m a little too deep into my own feelings are this panic attack, but it’s important. The pitching has been way above expectations, keeping this team alive so early in the year. Make no mistake about it, this offense needs to hit the ball at a more consistent clip, that’s where Colorado’s success lies.