Baseball’s metaphorical midpoint has come and gone with an amazing home run derby and dramatic all-star game. Though we have passed the numerical midseason, we need to take a look at what went well and what didn’t go well for the Colorado Rockies. Today we will look at the three key success for the first half of the year.
It’s hard to imagine a team that has gold glove winners Carlos Gonzalez, D.J. LeMahieu, and Nolan Arenado had defensive woes. However, the fact if the team was going to be successful in 2017 season if the defense needed to improve.
This team didn’t just improve; they are looking to be the best defense in baseball. In 2016 the Rockies finished 27th in overall defense with a .982 fielding percentage, in 2017 they are second with a .988 fielding percentage. Tony Wolters, the field general behind home plate, has been one of the biggest factors in the Rockies defensive improvement for the season. Wolters has been more than a catcher, acting as a playing manager on the field for a team that needed direction. With Wolters, the Rockies have stability in a position that commands leadership on the field. Whether he is calling pitches, directing defensive shifts, and cutting down base runners, Wolters is the presence the team needed.
Young Stars and Veteran Backups Step Up
Every team every season has to deal with injuries, the Rockies have been the prime example of that through the first have of the year. Coming out of the break the team will still be fighting off the injury bug, but have no reason to panic.
Names like Raimel Tapia, Ryan Hanigan, Pat Valaika, Alexi Amarista, Antonio Senzatela, and German Marquez have all stepped up in place of injured teammates. Every name above have stepped in during big moments and delivered. Whether veteran or rookie the contributions has had a direct impact on the team’s win-loss record.
This is the obvious improvement that both needed to happen and did. It’s no secret that the Rockies have improved hand over fist with both starters and bullpen arms for 2017. Though the 4.45 ERA has the team sitting at 16th overall, it’s a dramatic improvement from last year’s 4.91 ERA that left them at 27th.
The bullpen is and will be the make or break unit for this team going forward, just as it was the first half of the year. In 2016 the Rockies bullpen was dreadful, finishing dead last in baseball with a 5.13 ERA. 2017 has the team jumped to 21st in the game with an ERA of 4.39, leading all of baseball with 30 saves. Greg Holland has been lights out, but the rest of the crew have been struggling of late, look for manager Bud Black to make some changes to mix things up.
In addition to the bullpen improvements, the starters have been fantastic as well. At one point four rookie starting pitchers were going deeper into games, looking like veteran starters. Even when ace Jon Gray went down for a month and a half with a toe injury, the team continued to win. The emergence of Antonio Senzatela and Kyle Freeland have shifted the staff from could be good to just plain good.
These three reasons have been monumental to the makeup of Colorado’s success so far this year. If the team wants to continue this journey to the playoffs, they will have to continue these traits. Stay tuned for Friday’s article when we discuss what the team needs to improve upon from the first half to make a push to the postseason.