Rockies fans for the past few weeks, maybe some for the past few months, have been wondering how this team turned out so bad. Were the expectations prior to the season that far off? Who has exactly been so awful to cause this team to fall over 10 games behind the San Francisco Giants before August 1st? Was it all misguided optimism or just a collective bunch of bad seasons all at once?
Or worse, is this really what the Rockies are? We won’t really know that answer until further down the road. We won’t really know if Ubaldo is truly broken until next year and while we are starting to wonder if Tulo puts entirely too much pressure on himself in high leverage situations I would like to hold judgment for a little longer. Who is the real CarGo? The one who played for Oakland or the one who played for the Rockies in 2010? Because he has looked like both in 2011.
I will use the ZiPS projections that were provided by Dan Syzmborski at Baseball Think Factory prior to the 2011 season. These projections take the past four seasons and weights/averages them to project how a player will perform for the upcoming season. If the player is relatively old or young then only three seasons are used.
So here are the ZiPS projections for the Rockies and the pace listed is basically their current stats multiplied by 1.4 as we are 60 percent of the way through the season.
Troy Tulowitzki (4.4 WAR in 2011)
ZiPS: 27 HRs, 92 R, 95 RBI, 13 SB, .292/.363/.520
Pace: 27 HRs, 69 R, 94 RBI, 10 SB, .277/.348/.501
Todd Helton (2.7 WAR)
ZiPS: 9 HR, 45 R, 41 RBI, 0 SB, .266/.364/.396
Pace: 15 HR, 62 R, 73 RBI, 0 SB, 315/.402/.489
Chris Iannetta (2.4 WAR)
ZiPS: 14 HR, 39 R, 52 RBI, 0 SB, .242/.355/.457
Pace: 14 HR, 52 R, 40 RBI, 4 SB, .223/.377/.408
Carlos Gonzalez (2.4 WAR)
ZiPS: 27 HR, 101 R, 103 RBI, 23 SB, .306/.354/.533
Pace: 21 HR, 88 R, 78 RBI, 22 SB, .289/.358/.491
Dexter Fowler (1.6 WAR)
ZiPS: 7 HR, 85 R, 49 RBI, 21 SB, .271/.361/.418
Pace: 0 HR, 60 R, 36 RBI, 7 SB, .254/.359/.383
Seth Smith (1.6 WAR)
ZiPS: 16 HR, 57 R, 59 RBI, 5 SB, .272/.348/.482
Pace: 11 HR, 60 R, 59 RBI, 6 SB, .288/.336/.487
Ty Wigginton (0.7 WAR)
ZiPS: 18 HR, 61 R, 66 RBI, 1 SB, .274/.331/.450
Pace: 18 HR, 53 R, 56 RBI, 7 SB, .254/.311/.461
Ryan Spilborghs (-0.4 WAR)
ZiPS: 9 HR, 44 R, 43 RBI, 6 SB, .266/.342/.414
Pace: 4 HR, 31 R, 28 RBI, 3 SB, .223/.303/.324
Ian Stewart (-0.6 WAR)
ZiPS: 23 HR, 70 R, 76 RBI, 8 SB, .248/.332/.462
Pace: 0 HR, 14 R, 3 RBI, 3 SB, .143/.229/.204
The first thing that jumped out at me was that Fowler, after spending so much time in the minor leagues, is still fifth in the team in WAR. WAR is a counting stat and playing time definitely plays a part in the stat. Next thing I noticed is how good of a season Helton is having. He is absolutely killing his projection. Finally, a lot of the run and RBI totals are down but those are hard to predict and I believe the cause of this is because a lot of Rockies players have an on-base percentage lower than were predicted. Helton and Iannetta are the only two with OBP much higher than predicted and many have much lower like Stewart, Spilly, Wiggy and even Tulo. If the team can’t get on base they can’t score runs.
I am probably stating the obvious but Fowler shouldn’t have been sent out and that put Spilly or a rookie in the lineup and they just couldn’t produce like Fowler. Then we have the black holes at second and third, both have been extremely poor at the plate all year. Some fans actually like Wigginton and he has barely contributed above what the team should expect out of a AAAA player. (And now we have that dropped can of corn in left field last night.)
While Helton is having a great year compared to his expectations it isn’t the kind of year that can make up for the loss in production in center field (or left field when CarGo moved) and third base.
Ubaldo Jimenez (2.5 WAR)
ZiPS: 221 IP, 8.73 K/9, 3.79 BB/9, 0.53 HR/9, 3.06 ERA, 3.17 FIP
Pace: 171 IP, 8.56 K/9, 3.47 BB/9, 0.74 HR/9, 4.20 ERA, 3.48 FIP
Jorge De La Rosa (1.3 WAR)
Notgonnadoit. This is too frustrating already. Really hurt when the Rockies lost him for the season.
Jhoulys Chacin (1.2 WAR)
ZiPS: 147 IP, 8.22 K/9, 4.66 BB/9, 0.86 HR/9, 3.93 ERA, 4.05 FIP
Pace: 178 IP, 7.75 K/9, 4.09 BB/9, 1.27 HR/9, 3.60 ERA, 4.50 FIP
Jason Hammel (0.7 WAR)
ZiPS: 187 IP, 6.83 K/9, 2.26 BB/9, 0.91 HR/9, 4.14 ERA, 3.64 FIP
Pace: 170 IP, 4.75 K/9, 3.56 BB/9, 1.11 HR/9, 4.75 ERA, 4.82 FIP
Aaron Cook (0.5 WAR)
ZiPS: 153 IP, 4.54 K/9, 3.01 BB/9, 0.88 HR/9, 4.48 ERA, 4.35 FIP
Pace: 62 IP, 3.02 K/9, 3.83 BB/9, 0.40 HR/9, 5.84 ERA, 4.31 FIP
Not one of the Rockies starting pitchers is exceeding preseason projections. Not one. Ubaldo’s stats scream “unlucky”. His strikeout and walk ratios are on par and it is that small jump in home runs allowed that is really hurting him and what is causing his FIP to be higher.
Hammel and Cook have been nothing short of awful when looking at their seasons as a whole. Hammel is striking out fewer than two hitters per nine innings while walking over one more per nine innings; a horrible combination. Throw in the extra home runs and he is actually LUCKY to have an ERA as low as it is. And Cook, well, he sucks.
Lastly, Chacin isn’t performing up to projections either. His ERA is actually lower than projected but his FIP is way higher which means his recent poor performances could be a sign of things to come. Allowing over one home run per nine innings is bad and allowing 1.27 is really bad. Add in the reduced strikeout numbers and his season might be getting ready to fall apart.
(I wrote that paragraph before last night’s outing where his defense failed him, miserably. Wigginton and Ellis/Spilborghs cost Chacin at least two runs.)
When looking at this as a whole you can see that there are numerous players not playing up to expectations and some of them are way off of the pace that was projected.
I am not one to blame the managers for players poor performances and while I dislike Jim Tracy’s in game management and how he handles playing time the performance of the Rockies players has to fall on their shoulders and their shoulders only; they simply aren’t living up to expectations almost as a whole.
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