In REBUILD THE ROCKIES, I outlined a methodology to rebuild the Rockies roster. The overarching objective is to make the team sustainably good. But one fire sale alone will not change the Rox culture of losing. The Rox need a holistic makeover. Time (and energy) allowing, I’ll propose several more fundamental changes that the Rockies need to consider in addition to the necessary massive roster makeover.
To date, the biggest hurdle to fielding a contending team in Denver has been starting pitching (or lack thereof). A couple of years ago I wrote a “Sound Off” article outlining the effects of altitude on the game of baseball (maybe Jaredean or another Site Administrator can locate and link that article?). But I frequently rail against using altitude as an excuse and advocate using it to our advantage. I also have to ask the question – is altitude the only reason our SP gets decimated year in and year out? Let’s look a little deeper.
First, let’s look at the Ballpark. Courtesy of The Bill James Handbook 2013:
Here are the most hitter-friendly ballparks since 2010: Park Runs Index
Rockies (Coors Field) 143
Rangers (Rangers Ballpark in Arlington) 122
Red Sox (Fenway Park) 115
White Sox (U.S. Cellular Field) 113
Diamondbacks (Chase Field) 112
Yankees (Yankee Stadium) 110
Here are the parks that have allowed the most home runs since 2010: Park Home Runs Index Rockies
(Coors Field) 138
White Sox (U.S. Cellular Field) 138
Reds (Great American Ballpark) 134
Brewers (Miller Park) 129
Yankees (Yankee Stadium) 128
Rangers (Rangers Ballpark in Arlington) 124
Here are parks that have allowed the fewest foul outs since 2010: Park Foul Outs Index Rockies
(Coors Field) 77
Red Sox (Fenway Park) 78
Angels (Angel Stadium of Anaheim) 79
Rangers (Rangers Ballpark in Arlington) 83
Cubs (Wrigley Field) 83
Giants (AT&T Park) 86
Royals (Kauffman Stadium) 86
Hmmmmmmm………..Coors allows far and away the most runs scored. No surprise. Coors allows the most triples. No surprise. But when we look at HRs, U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago allows just as many. Great American Ballpark isn’t too far behind. But here’s the one that’s really hard to swallow – Coors Field allows fewer foul outs than any other park in baseball. 23% less than a neutral park. Now I realize its pure blasphemy to talk trash about Coors and a bolt of lightning may strike me down at any moment – but this is just plain dumb. Initial design mistakes are frequently made. Fences have been moved in at Citi Field and Marlins Park, and have been moved in more than once at Petco. But to my knowledge, foul territory has never been adjusted at Coors. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong.
Eno Sarris gives foul ground a harder look in this article:
Turns out this foul out thing is not insignificant. For the 2012-2013 seasons, Oakland Stadium recorded 398 foul outs (the most). Coors (139) – the fewest. That’s a delta of a whopping 259 outs, or 130 outs per season!
In my opinion, the Rockies should give serious consideration to changing the playing field dimensions at Coors Field. This will sound crazy – but I propose moving the CF fence(s) in. That’s right, “in.” Smarter folks than I need to determine the sweet spot between the HR Index and Runs Index. But I’m guessing the HR increase caused by decreasing space in CF can be more than offset by the corresponding decrease in doubles and triples. Much more importantly, I’m proposing a foul territory increase. Enough to make Coors a foul neutral Park (23% more foul ball outs than now) at bare minimum. It would be nice if we could go even further, maybe to the 110 range.
Interestingly, decreasing the CF dimension while increasing foul territory can be accomplished (to some extent) concurrently simply by moving the field “out” a bit. It’s more complicated than this……but in the big scheme of things can be accomplished seamlessly.
The overall realistic goal should bringing the Runs Index down to the 125-130 range.
Dickie will have to sell a few more beers on the Party Deck to offset the foul territory seat loss, but he’ll get over it.
This may not seem like a big thing, but the Rox have to change the pitching paradigm at Coors if the goal is to field a sustainable contender. There will be no single, magic bullet cure. It will be an accumulation of little things. Adjusting the playing dimensions is one step.