I’m a big believer that standings and stats in baseball aren’t relevant until Memorial Day weekend. Memorial Day marks the 1/3 point in the season (almost exactly this year). Sample sizes are now large enough to have some real meaning. The Rox are 33-20. +/-102 win pace. A brilliant start not expected by even the most avid, purple-tinted glasses wearing, Rockies fan. With all this in mind, let’s take a look at the Rockies to date:
Overachievers – Expect Some Regression Ahead
Mark Reynolds – near career year at age 34. By all accounts he’s made some real changes to his swing. These swing changes + proper playing time management by BB may make him somewhat sustainable going forward. But some regression will occur.
Charlie Blackmon – Now a truly elite player in Major League baseball. But not 140 RBIs from the leadoff spot elite. No one in baseball history has been that good. Expect continued great play, but some regression.
Ryan Hanigan – at age 36, there’s a large sample size that says what he’s done offensively isn’t sustainable. But defensively, we’re seeing what Hanigan has done throughout his career. He’ll continue to be very serviceable until Tom Murphy is ready.
Antonio Senzatela – the 22-year old kid has been brilliant and there’s real upside talent here. He’s going to have to work on that 2nd pitch, and establish a 3rd pitch – I believe he will eventually. He’s also likely up against an innings limit. He’s a great candidate to temporarily move to the Pen in late 17.
Greg Holland – the FA signing of the year. He’s has a long and proven track record of being a great Closer. But no Closer is perfect. Expect continued good play, but some regression is inevitable.
Chad Qualls – the dude is washed up. We’ve been extremely lucky to get a little bit of mileage from him so far. A major explosion is imminent. Hide the women and children.
Playing as Expected – Should Continue
DJ LaMahieu – we underestimated him for a couple of years. We now know he’s legit. Got off to a slow start, but has hit his stride. Expect 4 more months of the same.
Nolan Arenado – no explanation required. In fact, it’s tempting to put him in the “Underachievers” list simply because of his somewhat slow (by his lofty standards) offensive start. His defense is obviously the best.
Geraldo Parra – we saw career worst year from Parra last season. We’ll never see the career best Parra again. I think what we’re seeing this season is just about correct. I expect him to continue plugging away the next 4 months at about the same rate.
Alexi Amarista – the Little Ninja has a long history of doing about what he’s done so far. Expect it to continue.
Pat Valaika – I’ve been bullish on Valaika since ST. In my opinion, he’s legit (for his role). He’s a perfect Utility guy. Expect it to continue.
Tony Wolters – the kid has turned into a very solid offensive player. I expect it to continue at same rate. Of course, his defense never takes a day off.
Kyle Freeland – has been up and down, which I expected. I’m extremely impressed with his all-around athletic ability. This athletic ability leads me to believe we won’t see regression. He’s going to have his rookie ups and downs at about the same rate we’ve seen so far. A quick anecdote here – Freeland should be the team’s #1 pinch runner option 4 out of every 5 days.
German Marquez – very similar to Freeland. He’s destined for rookie ups-and-downs, but he’s a big talent. A more “complete” SP (at this time) than Senzatela.
Mike Dunn – He’s a long-time, large sample size guy. Got off to a great start. Then hit a really rough patch. The real Mike Dunn is somewhere between these two streaks. He’s a serviceable lefty when managed correctly.
Jake McGee – we saw weak-kneed (literally) McGee last season. Now he’s healthy and a solid step above Mike Dunn. I expect continued performance at the same rate for the remainder of the season.
Adam Ottavino – this is a really, really tough one. My logic here is this – to date his results (leads League in Holds) have exceeded his up-and-down performance. He’s been lucky. I don’t expect the good luck to continue. However, I do expect his performance to become more consistent (mostly on the good side). This should offset some regression in his results due to his good luck and give an end result similar to what we’ve been seeing so far. Hopefully without as much drama.
Scott O’Berg – I didn’t expect much, if anything, from O’Berg. That’s more less what we’re seeing – and will continue to see. The only things that make him somewhat, temporarily safe, are Lyles and Qualls.
Jeff Hoffman – he’s had two really nice starts, but I expected good things from him. I think he’ll factor prominently in the next 4 months.
Underachievers – Should Expect Some Progression (at least from the position, if not the player)
Cargo – don’t get me wrong here. I don’t expect all-star Cargo from years past. He’s definitely on the downhill slide. But I do think 20 HRs and 60 RBIs moving forward is reasonable, and likely. His defense has been better than I expected.
Ian Desmond – just needs time to get back in sync after injury. He’s been OK, and will get better than “OK.” Expect increased performance/results as the season progresses.
Trevor Story – people forget Story’s injury and lengthy time away from baseball – which included almost all off-season. He’ll get better. Expect better performance. Ironically – it appears Mike Trout has the same injury.
Jordan Lyles – enough already. Whomever takes his place will be a positive result for the team.
Tyler Chatwood – a real enigma. He’s playing himself into the bullpen (although that’s not necessarily a bad thing from the team perspective). I think BB will figure out a role for Chatwood and he’ll make a better contribution moving forward. Just not exactly sure what that contribution will be.
Tyler Anderson – my expectations were too high. But he’s showing some real positive signs lately. Expect a much better, solid Anderson moving forward.
Jon Gray – he’s here mostly due of injury, but his three starts prior to injury weren’t good either. No-where to go but up – and this has a potentially very nice trickle-down effect allowing guys like Chatwood and/or Senza to move to the BP for the playoff run.
Raimel Tapia – not Tapia’s fault mind you. Tapia’s biggest contribution could be as trade bait if needed.
Yet to be Determined
David Dahl – I’m becoming a little pessimistic regarding Dahl. Seems like his rehab has moved really slow, and I imagine due to the nature of the injury he’s been completely shut down (for a long time now). Once fully cleared, he’ll need a long rehab. For now, I’m not expecting much from Dahl.
Tom Murphy – sort of the opposite situation of Dahl. Very positive recent reports on Murph. His injury is also the type that allowed him to maintain conditioning and do some baseball related drills (similar to Ian Desmond). I anticipate a shorter rehab. Catcher is a brutal position. So much wear-and-tear over 162 games. We’ve received yeoman’s work from Garneau and Hanigan. But once in sync, a fresh Tom Murphy can be a real positive in August and September. He’ll have fresh legs. This could be good – very, very good.
Jairo Diaz – haven’t heard much about Diaz lately. But we know the front-end of the Pen (Lyles/Qualls/Oberg) is weak. There’s an opportunity here.
Chad Bettis – the big “X” factor. Could be a huge shot-in-the-arm to the front end of the Bull Pen. Here’s a dream scenario for you – our last 3 games of the season are against the Dodgers at Coors. Can you imagine Bettis making his season debut in a high leverage situation in front of a sold-out crowd with the NL West title at stake AT COORS? It can happen. Dream big.
Carlos Estevez – “X” factor #2. If he figures it out, he can help the front end of the Pen as well.
James Farris – under the radar, but becoming a darn good Closer in Hartford. Same as Diaz – there’s opportunity due to the Lyles/Qualls/Oberg trio. Farris isn’t on the 40-man roster, so moves will have to be made. This is a long shot, but he’s really exploding at the moment and it’s always a position of need.
The team defense had been ridiculously good to date. This is a really good defensive team on paper, so this isn’t shocking. Still, I expect some minor regression.
Injuries are always an inexact, largely unmeasurable factor. Of course we had more than our share during ST. Yet none of those appear to be too serious. Hopefully we’ve got our major injuries out of the way for 2017.
You can see that for every over-achiever we’ve had to date, we’ve also had an under-achiever and/or injury situation that limited performance. Being realistic – Reynolds, Blackmon, and Holland will slow down a bit moving forward. But Tyler Anderson, Jon Gray, and Carlos Gonzalez should be bigger contributors. Desmond will get better. I see Murphy as a real contributor when the August and September dog days arrive. Jeff Hoffman is going to factor into the equation. Chad Bettis – oh what a story he can be!