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Thursday, June 16, 2005

Road Kill

With last night's extra inning loss to the Indians at Jacobs Field the Rockies fell to 4-25 on the road, the worst record in baseball behind even Tampa Bay. As has historically been true the problem is both offensive and defensive but the offense has been particularly anemic averaging just 3.31 runs per game on the road - last in the majors. The pitching has been bad with an ERA of 6.07 but at least its only 28th ahead of Cincinnati and Tampa Bay.

As of now the Rockies project to win just 11 road games all season (a .138 winning percentage) which would break the record for futility on the road topping the 1935 Braves who had just a .167 winning percentage.

This morning I re-read the 2003 Baseball Prospectus article on the Rockies which argued that the Rockies don't need to learn how to win at altitude - they already do that - they simply need to learn how to win on the road. And learning how to win on the road means getting better players, especially pitchers. It's interesting that the article references The Hidden Game of Baseball where Palmer and Thorn discuss what it takes to win championships in chapter 12. I grabbed my copy and re-read the relevant portion. The following were their conclusions.

"Yet to win a pennant with an extreme Park Factor, a team must construct its talent to take maximum advantage of what its home park hinders, not what it helps....A team whose home park favors hitters to an extent 10 percent above average (PF 110) or more cannot have a won-lost record 10 percentage above average at home and win a pennant - at least it has never been done by any of the 94 teams which have played in hitters' parks. So for such a team to win a pennant, it must (a) have exceptional pitching and (b) win big on the road. The 14 pennant winners from hitters' parks have produced 11 league-leading pitching staffs and have played .627 on the road - 170 points, or 37 percent, above average."

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