Going Deep: Rox Bottom

For the first time in recent memory, the Rockies might be worth streaming against.

(Photo by Russell Lansford/Icon Sportswire)

Since the Colorado Rockies moved into Coors Field in 1995, baseball fans have heard all about its unique status as a premier hitter’s park. Due to Denver’s high altitude and dry weather, baseballs fly farther off the bat in Coors Field, making it easily the best hitter’s park in the majors. The park is still known as the most hitter-friendly stadium, even after the implementation of a humidor that did lessen the effects of the dry air.

The chart above clearly shows the effect that Coors Field has had on the Rockies offense. After years of being conditioned to believe that Coors Field is the most dangerous park for pitchers, fantasy owners have grown weary of starting their pitchers there. However, that fear may be misplaced this year.

The Rockies have been known for a fearsome lineup full of top-tier hitters, often planning to simply out-slug their opponents. In 2018 however, the Colorado offense is anything but fearsome. So far this year, the Rockies are posting a .722 OPS, the 13th best mark in the league. What’s more, the Rox have posted a .666 OPS away from Coors Field, earning the 25th ranking in the league. For the first time in recent memory, the Colorado Rockies are a good matchup to start pitchers against.

The graphs below show the Rockies struggles at home:


The Rockies simply do not have a good lineup. They only have four hitters with an OPS over .800 or a wRC+ over 100, the mark for league average. Of these four hitters—Nolan ArenadoCharlie BlackmonDJ LeMahieu, and Trevor Story— only the three former maintain those marks over .800 and 100 on the road. Keep in mind that wRC+ does take into account park effects, therefore lowering the mark for Rockies hitters.

On the flip side, Gerardo ParraIan Desmond, and Ryan McMahon have been atrocious. The three have combined for a .231/.291/.369 slashline in 506 combined plate appearances. Among 162 qualified hitters, Desmond and Parra rank 155 and 148 respectively in wRC+ and 137 and 118 in OPS. That’s really bad; considering where they play half their games, that OPS mark is just as bad as the wRC+.

Desmond’s .211 BABIP is well below is nearly .300 career average, but he is hitting the ball on the ground a lot. His career-high 64.1% groundball rate doesn’t allow him to take advantage of the park that he plays in. Parra’s issue is a bit harder to pinpoint; on the surface, his batted ball profile and Statcast data all look fairly static. However, the one key difference is a distinct drop in his hard-hit rate on flyballs. For the past six season, Parra’s Hard% on flyballs has rested between 40% and 50%, topping out at 50.5% last season. This year, Parra is hitting just 34.9% of his flyballs with authority, resulting in a distinct drop in power.

Interestingly, the Rockies seem to have a viable replacement ready at AAA. Raimel Tapia is a contact-first OF prospect who is currently slashing .306/.353/.532 with 8 home runs and 11 stolen bases at AAA Albuquerque. With David Dahl out for a while with a broken foot, I’m surprised Tapia hasn’t already been recalled to Colorado.

So, what does all this mean for your fantasy teams? I would highly recommend starting your pitchers against Colorado when they’re away from Coors Field. The Rockies hitters rank 10th in K% (23.3%) in 2018 and 25th in wOBA on the road (.290). They are clearly a fantastic matchup to stream against away from Coors Field. Even when they’re at home, I’d still consider starting top-tier pitchers against the Rockies at this point. They only rank 4th in OPS at home, behind the Red Sox, Indians, and Yankees.

So, until I see Colorado turning around their offense I will be treating them similarly to the Yankees or Cubs when at home, and the Rangers or Tigers when on the road. Improvements from Desmond or Parra would definitely be a notable factor, as would simply replacing them. If Tapia was called up and given full playing time, for example, I’d have to reconsider these findings based on how he performs.

For now, though, the Rockies offense simply isn’t what it used to be. While Coors Field is still a hitters haven, the lineup hosted there is no longer dangerous.

Austin Bristow II

Raised as an Atlanta Braves fan in central Illinois, Austin Bristow II attended Eureka College for undergrad and Purdue University for his master's degree in Higher Education Administration. Since co-founding his home league at age 16, Austin has been obsessed with fantasy baseball. Austin serves as the Staff Manager for Pitcher List.

2 responses to “Going Deep: Rox Bottom”

  1. abc says:

    How do you see hard hit% on a specific type of contact (such as flyball or groundball or line drive)

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