Let’s get one thing straight: a win is a win. This is especially true when you’ve lost four in a row. Whining about a 2-1 victory will upset the baseball gods. All that matters is that they won, regardless of how ugly it was.
Actually, who am I kidding? This team has been mired in an awful slump and I was really hoping they would break out last night. However, despite the win, their offense was once again atrocious. Aside from Chris Iannetta, they looked completely lost. Right now, they’re tougher to watch than an episode of Khloe and Lamar**.
The high water mark of this season was April 20th. That was the day they lit up Matt Cain at Coors Field, beating the Giants 10-2. After that win, they were an MLB best 13-5. Offensively, they had a very respectable slash-line of .257/.344/.426. However, since that game, the Rockies’ team batting average and on base percentage have each dropped over twenty points. Even worse, we’ve seen a fifty point decrease in their team slugging percentage. In this span, they’ve scored five or more runs only twice. Meanwhile, they’ve scored three runs or less in ten of the fifteen games they’ve played since April 20th.
So far this season, the Rockies have done two things in abundance: strike out and walk. Even with this recent slump, they have the second highest walk rate in baseball — 10.3%. However, the Rox have K’d in 22.9% of their at-bats. Only the Padres, Nationals, and Pirates are striking out with more frequency.
Interestingly, the Rockies’ K and BB rates have had little impact on the outcome of their games. In contests when they’ve walked four or more times, they are 8-9. In games when they’ve K’d more than ten times, they are an even 4-4. Turns out, the homerun is what actually drives this team.
Colorado has yet to lose a game when it hits at least two homeruns. However, when the Rox don’t hit a homerun, they are 4-9. In the fifteen games played since April 20th, they’ve been held homerless nine times, only winning twice. In the season’s first eighteen games, they failed to go deep just four times. It’s not a coincidence that they had the best record in baseball over that span.
Obviously, this all or nothing approach wasn’t sustainable and we are watching that play out now. If the Rockies continue to rely so heavily on the dinger, it will not be a good year. The reality is that they only have a few power hitters and rank 21st overall in team homeruns. It’s imperative that they find other ways to move runners across the plate.
It starts with hitting with runners in scoring position. Currently, the Rockies are batting .217 with RISP — 25th in MLB. This puts them in the company of light hitting teams like the A’s, Padres, and Mariners. With runners on second and third, they have four hits in twenty-one at-bats. I don’t think anyone can say for certain what causes this kind of offensive ineptitude. I’d imagine that the elements of over eagerness and pressure are at play, but these are professionals. They should be able to work through such amateur problems. Whatever the case, they have to take better advantage of their opportunities.
Fortunately, the Rockies play great defense and pitch lights out. Their rotation has been racking up quality starts like they’re going out of style. Also, aside from Felipe Paulino, and, despite last week’s poor road trip, they have a very solid bullpen. For the most part, it’s been a real asset. The Rox don’t have to be a great offensive team to win their division. They just need to be better than they’ve been over the last three weeks. Like Jim Tracy recently said, all teams go through slumps, but the good ones find a way to get going again. Hopefully, the Rox have hit rock bottom.
**I’m convinced that E’s latest concept of television rubbish is 100% responsible for the Lakers’ second round meltdown. So a big shout-out to E on that one.