FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Rox 2005

Well, the Rockies 2005 season is at an end and so I thought I'd share my observations about the 2005 version and look forward to 2006.

First, here's the season summary in one graph.

Quick primer: The blue line tracks the winning percentage during the season while the purple line shows the pythagorean winning percentage (calculated based on the the ratio of runs scored to runs allowed. Both of these curves use the Y-Axis on the left side of the graph. The light blue line and the green line represent the cumulative runs scored per game and the runs allowed per game on each day of the season. Both of those curves use the Y-Axis on the right.

What this graph indicates is that the pitching out of the gate was so terrible (they gave up 10 or more runs in 5 of the first 9 games) that the Rockies dug themselves a hole (1-9 on April 16th) that turned out to be too large to dig out of. It also shows that their pitching continued to improve during the season as the Kim's (Byun-Yun and Sunny) stabilized the rotation and Brian Fuentes and company pitched better in the bullpen. The helped them to improve from 24-48 on June 22nd to play essentially .500 baseball the rest of the way, which as it turns out, in their division would have been more than enough to contend in September.

It also shows, however, that the offense did not improve at all throughout the season, mainly due to injuries to Clint Barmes, Matt Holliday, and Brad Hawpe and a mid-season slump by Todd Helton and the departure of Preston Wilson that stalled the offense for much of the summer.

As for the players I'll focus mostly on the young guns, Gen-R as the Rockies PR department says, the Rockies will be counting on for next season...

  • Clint Barmes - Barmes started out hot with a game-winning homerun on opening day off of Trevor Hoffman and continued to be so until he was placed on the DL June 7th with a fractured left clavicle. After returning from the injury he hit poorly as his average dipped under .300.

    My observation of Barmes makes me wonder if he'll really be a major league hitter. The only pitch he can drive is a fastball down and in and often gets jammed, hitting broken bat dribblers to the right side. He's also not at all patient (just 16 walks in 333 at bats) although Clint Hurdle continued to bat him leadoff long after he had shown he wasn't suited for it. He'll also be 27 on opening day 2006 and so it's not likely he'll improve greatly.

    In the field Barmes is below average (-6 runs above average according to Baseball Prospectus) and his arm is more like David Eckstein's than Khalil Greene. In short, I think the Rockies should keep looking.

  • Corey Sullivan - Sullivan didn't get much playing time early but after the Wilson deal and the injury to Larry Bigbie he was installed in centerfield and responded by hitting well over .300 in the final two months. His patience also improved as the season went on.

    At the plate opposing pitcher would pitch him in, in, in and early on he would swing at everything inside off the plate and usually miss (he's struck out 78 times in 360 at bats). Later in the year teams didn't seem to pitch him quite the same way and Sullivan was able to take the outside pitch and slap it into left field for hits.

    His defense is above average and so he'd make a decent fourth outfielder but I certainly wouldn't want him in the starting lineup in 2006. He'll be 26 on opening day 2006.

  • Matt Holliday - After being hurt much of the first half of the season Holliday came on in the second half and has led the league in RBIs with 59. Overall, he's the player that consistently hits the ball the hardest on the Rockies and the ball seems to jump off his bat. His weaknesses are his lack of patience in general (just 36 walks in 460 at bats but better patience down the stretch) and particularly his seeming need to chase sliders low and away, a weakness, I might add that opposing pitchers regularly exploit. If he can develop some patience and make pitchers come to him, he'll be a force to be reckoned with as he just hits pitches in the strike zone.

    Of course, as with any Rockies hitter it's difficult to know how good he really is since his home line (.357/.409/.593) is so much better than his road line (.257/.316/.414). Still, he came from a long way back in his road numbers and so I would certainly expect the Rockies to give him every opportunity to become a hitting star.

    His defense is poor to say the least. He often gets bad jumps and his arm is nothing to brag about. He'll be 26 at the beginning of next season.

  • Garrett Atkins - Atkins was the most consistent of the rookie class and was the RBI leader for much of the season. He ended with respectable numbers with a good August and September but a horrible road line (.234/.302/.347) and so it remains to be seen if he'll really be competent at the major league level. His problem is that he doesn't really hit with enough isolated power to hold down a position so far to the left of the defensive spectrum and his approach at the plate doesn't give one confidence that his power will improve. Still, next year he'll be just 24 and so there's certainly room for growth.

    In the field he's far from outstanding and BP rates him at 13 runs below average.

  • Brad Hawpe - Hawpe had a pretty good season despite battling through injuries. He hasn't yet shown the power that everyone talks about (in fact he hit 4 homeruns in his first 50 at bats and then just 5 more the rest of the way) but like Atkins at 25, he has the time to improve. He was better than most of the other Rockies on the road (.259/.350/.393) and showed a good deal of patience (37 walks in 267 at bats). He was also very good in field racking up 11 assists in just half a season. Like Holliday, I think perhaps Hawpe can be an integral part of the future.

  • Luis Gonzales and Aaron Miles - I've included Miles in this discussion since he plays the same position as Gonzales although I don't view him as a part of the future since he's older. That said, my view is that Gonzales is the better and younger (26 to 28 for Miles) player and so should be looked at as the incumbent as the Rockies head to Spring Training next year.

    In short, Gonzales, while not patient, has more power and can hit the ball with authority whereas Miles neither walks (7 in over 300 at bats) nor has any extra base hit power. The problem with Gonzales is that he hasn't shown he can hit right handed pitching well while he rakes lefties. Gonzales also hit much better on the road than Miles so it seems more likely that his numbers reflect real talent.

    BP rates them both above average at second base although Gonzales is more versatile and can play both short and third.

  • J.D. Closser and Danny Ardoin - The Rockies soured on the 25 year-old Closser pretty early when he hit .170 in April and .205 in May and so GM Dan O'Dowd tried to land a catching prospect at the trade deadline only to be stiffed by the Red Sox and left holding the bag with Larry Bigbie in it. The Rockies owners have also publicly stated that they're looking for a catcher for next season as well. So that pretty much sums up his chances in 2006. In short, his walk rate isn't bad but he hits very poorly left-handed at .209/.307/.352 (he's a switch hitter). He's also a brutal fielder and threw out just 10 of 62 runners.

    Ardoin on the other hand is good defender but an even worse hitter although final two months he picked it up a little. He's also pretty old at 31 and could be usable as a backup catcher because of his defense. He threw out 22 of 45 runners.

    As an aside, here's something strange. Clint Hurdle would often pinch hit for Ardoin in the late innings with Closser during the second half of the season. I found this strange since he often had Jorge Piedra on the bench, a much better hitter (6 homeruns in 112 at bats), but it almost seemed like he felt the need to switch catcher for catcher for some reason. Closser as a pinch hitter isn't really much better than Ardoin.
  • No comments: