Fantasy Recap: 2017 Colorado Rockies
Despite an 11-8, one-and-done loss to Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League wild-card game, 2017 was a leap forward for the Colorado Rockies, who snapped a streak of six consecutive seasons of losing baseball during which they had averaged 92 losses. They finished with an 87-75 record, the third-best record in franchise history.
General manager Jeff Bridich‘s blueprint was clear. He invested money last winter to shore up a collapsed bullpen and counted on his young starters to mature. Despite expected hiccups and some late-season fatigue, the kids for the most part delivered.
Colorado’s four rookie starters — Kyle Freeland, Jeff Hoffman, German Márquez and Antonio Senzatela — started a combined 93 games, with the Rockies going 53-40. The quartet had a combined ERA of 4.65. Freeland (11-11), Marquez (11-7) and Senzatela (10-5) were the first rookie trio to win at least 10 games for the same team in more than a decade, since Anibal Sanchez, Ricky Nolasco and Scott Olsen did it with Miami in 2006.
Rockies relievers improved significantly, compiling a 4.40 ERA, the seventh-lowest in franchise history. Colorado’s 47 saves were the most in franchise history and the fourth-most in MLB. Holland had 41 of those saves, tying a franchise record.
On the surface, the Rockies’ offense looked powerful, as it finished first in the NL in batting average (.273) and runs scored (824). MVP candidates Nolan Arenado and Blackmon each hit 37 home runs and combined for 234 RBIs, while first baseman Mark Reynolds, 34, added 30 home runs and 97 RBIs.
Dig a bit deeper, however, and it’s clear that the Rockies’ offense was a disappointment. Despite playing half their games in a hitting friendly park, Coors Field, their 192 home runs ranked 21st in the major leagues during a season in which an all-time record 6,105 home runs were slugged.
Veteran right fielder Carlos Gonzalez, who’s red-hot September masked a terrible first half (.221 average, six home runs, 22 RBIs), will become a free agent and is unlikely to return. That means the Rockies must count on oft-injured David Dahl, or Raimel Tapia (fast, but little power) to blossom in 2018. Although it would be out of character for the Rockies, perhaps they will pursue a power hitter like Kansas City first baseman Eric Hosmer to add some punch to their lineup.
No Rockies player was under more scrutiny in 2017 than Ian Desmond, who signed a five-year, $70 million free-agent deal last winter. The end result was a disappointing, injury-marred season which saw Desmond slash .274/.326/.375 with seven home runs and 40 RBIs. Desmond was expected to drive balls into the gaps at Coors Field and use his speed to full advantage. Instead, he was a groundout machine, with an ugly 62.7 groundball percentage. The Rockies signed Desmond to be an immediate, high-impact player. He was not. At age 32 he has a lot of prove in 2018. Unless the Rockies make a major offseason signing, Desmond will likely spend a lot of time at first base, but with prospect Ryan McMahon ready for full-time big-league play, that’s not a given.