2014 was a lost season of injuries and disappointments. While there were teams with more injuries and more games lost, the WAR of their replacements was horrible and the level of game experience far too little. 2014 could have been a season where we were all tuned in until the end of the season. Instead it was a quick flash of fun followed by months of waiting for football season. 2015 cannot be the same.
With that in mind, here are my season MVPs, failures, surprises and the 2015 Player at the 3 main spots on the roster who will be key:
MVP – Nolan Arenado – 3B – Any doubt how import he is to this team? When he went down the team was in the playoff race and when he was finished his time on the DL, the team was done! His offense is still waiting to be unleashed especially on the road. But even in 2014 he was the most important player…even a tad more than one Troy Tulowitzki.
Disappointment – tie: Carlos Gonzalez and Wilin Rosario – I hate to be hard on CarGo because he wasn’t right from the day he showed up in Arizona til he was done. But gosh he flat stunk. And then there was Wilin Rosario who had that illness and other issues, but regressed physically, and you can live with the glove when he is a .850 OPS. He wasn’t and I think he may have hurt the development of the pitching staff more than we realize. It will be interesting to see. Oh, and I still think he is dealt this Spring when a starting catcher gets hurt somewhere in the bigs.
Surprise – While I was leaning toward Justin Morneau for showing he can still be an All-Star level player after two serious concussions, he had started to prove that in 2013. The real surprise was Corey Dickerson, who while still proving he can hit lefties and play left field well enough to get 5 ABS a night, put up numbers, even when taking into account Coors, that made him a player this team can now plan on and build around going forward. Honorable Mention to Michael McKenry, Thigh King himself, who may yet prove he is the best catcher on this roster.
2015 Key Player – Yes, we need to see health from Tulo and CarGo, but the most important player for 2015 will be Charlie Blackmon. The Rox, whether by choice or lack of options, didn’t trade high on this fan favorite. If he can have a season with fewer highs and lows, and still improve, especially on the road, this team can be dangerous, very dangerous, in the NL West.
MVP – Year after year the team seeks to find guys who can win and not be bothered by pitching at altitude. Here is to the Rox greatest home pitcher, Jorge De La Rosa, who was solid to good in 2014 despite all the injuries he pitched through…and he didn’t break his hand!
Disappointment – tie: Okay, my awards my rules. So another tie. The obvious answer, the equal of CarGo, is Jhoulys Chacin because he wasn’t right from the day he showed up in Arizona til he was done. He had flashes of okay but mostly he stunk. So much was depended on and so little produced. But you have to give a nod to injuries, even if they might have been player induced by lack of training. But really the clear favorite is Juan Nicasio, who has always had tons of talents but managed to make the wrong pitch at the wrong time, and crashed to earth just when every pitcher from Coors to Tulsa was breaking a bone in their hand. His implosion hurt the team’s more than we may yet realize – not reaching your talent level on a team desperate for talent at the starting spot is a painful thing.
Surprise – I was leaning toward Jordan Lyles but he was supposed to be this good back in 2012 or even 2013. No, the true surprise is Tyler Matzek, who in the Arizona Fall League 2013 was trying out for a lefty reliever. It looked like he was heading down the path of Drew Pomeranz, great talent that wasn’t able to tap into and eventually became a “useful” arm. For those of us who watched his stuff through the years we knew if he got any sort of control and good game calling (he hasn’t it should be noted), he could become a decent starter in the bigs, maybe never a #1 or #2 that he was projected to be coming out of HS (talent level on par with Clayton Kershaw at that age), but maybe a #4 or #5. Well, given the chance to pitch thanks to injuries and being received primary people other than Wilin Rosario, he proved that maybe his ceiling is a bit higher. He started 19 games, including 11 quality starts. He had only 3 real stinkers in that bunch. If he can go the next step, moving from 2.12 K/BB ratio to more like a 2.50 and keep a high K rate I think the Rox may have a solid #2 starter who on certain days can be unhittable.
2015 Key Player – Jhoulys Chacin – I was among those fans hoping the Rox were in on James Shields. Shields propensity to homers (while still getting a fair # of ground outs) probably scared them off. I look at the Rox rotation right now with De La Rosa, Lyles, and Matzek as having 3 solid pitchers. That is not enough to compete in the NL West. And then there is Chacin. If he is the guy he was in 2010-2011 and 2013, he can slot in as the #1 or #2, allowing Matzek and Lyles to fill further down the rotation. The likes of a guy like Kyle Kendrick can give them a decent #5 til one of the group of Grey, Butler, Freeland or even the now re-injured Tyler Anderson (why do pitchers with that name get hurt so much). But they have to get 180 innings and 12-15 wins from Chacin to have any chance in 2015.
MVP – easy choice, meet Adam Ottavino, the great Zero himself. Throw out that really weird 3 weeks in June and he was one of the best relievers in all of the National League. I still think we could see Adam as the closer for this club, but regardless, he gives them one of the power arms that every team wants now after seeing how well the Royals played with poor starting pitching in the 2014 playoffs.
Disappointment – is there any doubt? I give you Rex Brothers. He wasn’t just bad, he was as bad the team and fans expected him to be good. Or to quote above, “he wasn’t right from the day he showed up in Arizona til he was done.” He wasn’t. He has been bad in even years and next year isn’t. But he is at the point where he has to be consistent. The money and opportunities are there for Rex, and he is a great guy. But 2014 crashed as much on his weird season as on the plethora of injuries in the starting rotation.
Surprise – Again, an easy choice – Tommy Kahnle. If you think about the reason that both Tommy and Tyler were stuck in the minors was their inability to throw strikes. Well, for both of them there are still times where, both figured it out. Kahnle wasn’t just a surprise, he is a guy who this team can start to build around for the future. And all it cost them was $50K! Anytime you can get 8.3 K/9 while still staying at 2.03 K/BB ratio, you have a keeper.
2015 Key Player – I have been huge on this guy all off-season, Christian Friedrich. Whether it is the motion over 90 pitches and every 5 days or what, he wasn’t cut out to be a starter. But he can become a 2-3 WAR pitcher giving the 55-60 outings this year from the bullpen and making adding another high K arm for this bullpen in 2015.
So there are my MVPs, Diappointments, and Surprises for 2015. Let’s hope my picks for 2015 Key Players are more MVPs this time next year than disappointments!