DENVER -- The Rockies regained some momentum by splitting six games on on their road trip to Kansas City and Atlanta that ended Sunday, but they'd struggled for the previous three weeks.Today's Rockies Inbox explores whether youth is to blame.
DENVER -- The Rockies regained some momentum by splitting six games on on their road trip to Kansas City and Atlanta that ended Sunday, but they'd struggled for the previous three weeks.
Today's Rockies Inbox explores whether youth is to blame.
According to FanGraphs, seven of the top nine Rockies in WAR are guys who have never appeared in a playoff game. The top three hitters in the lineup -- leadoff man Charlie Blackmon, No. 2 hitter DJ LeMahieu and No. 3 Nolan Arenado -- are playing their first meaningful games. It's the same with the starting pitchers, but over the past 20 games -- during which the Rox are 8-12 -- they have a 3.79 ERA, which can win games at Coors Field.
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Poor run production from Carlos Gonzalez, lack of consistent contact from Trevor Story and closer Greg Holland's recent problems with his slider are shortfalls. Of those, Gonzalez is the only Rockies leftover from the 2009 playoff trip, and Holland has World Series pedigree.
Gerardo Parra entered Monday hitting .348 -- same as LeMahieu did when he won last year's National League batting title -- but has 322 plate appearances. For a 162-game season, a player must have 502 (3.1 per scheduled game) to qualify. A quadriceps injury that cost Parra 28 games is the culprit.
Relievers Pat Neshek, Jake McGee, Tyler Chatwood; catchers Jonathan Lucroy and Ryan Hanigan; first baseman Mark Reynolds and outfielder Gonzalez are eligible to enter free agency. Holland has qualified for a 2018 player option for next season, and can decline it and be a free agent.
Blackmon and LeMahieu complete their arbitration eligibility next year. Arenado, due $17.5 million next year to end a two-year contract, is set for arbitration in '19. Pitchers Chad Bettis and Chris Rusin are eligible for arbitration for the first time this offseason.
There is a temptation and a logic to moving Blackmon, someone with 31 home runs, out of the leadoff spot, in hopes that his 82 RBIs would grow faster with the No. 1 and No. 2 hitters on base. But for me, not Blackmon and not now.
Blackmon's 588 plate appearances led the Majors going into Monday, and I like the idea of arguably the NL's best hitter batting more. Plus, when he doesn't homer, there's more RBI opportunities for Arenado. Also, I don't see another leadoff hitter on this team.
Don't discount that some of the magic for Blackmon comes from adherence to a routine. Plus, this is not a team that juggles the leadoff spot, so such a move would leave players wondering if it was a panic move, and panic doesn't fly.
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and** like his Facebook page**.