This Rockie is out to break a 28-year-old record
This story was excerpted from Thomas Harding’s Rockies Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.
MLB.com's Manny Randhawa filled in for Thomas Harding in this edition.
Batting average isn’t regarded as highly as it once was, now that we have several other metrics that help us quantify offensive performance with more depth. But when a Rockie has a chance at history with his offensive performance on the road, that’s a big deal.
José Iglesias has one of the strangest offensive profiles in a single season of anyone in Rockies history. He’s hitting just .245 at Coors Field, but .353 on the road. Among qualified Rockies hitters in the franchise’s 30-season history, Mike Kingery posted the highest road batting average in a season back in 1994, hitting .362 away from Denver.
Kingery played in 55 road games for Colorado that year, and Iglesias has played in 41 road games this season. Iglesias has a real shot at becoming the all-time single-season road batting average leader in Rockies history. That is no small feat considering the difficulties Colorado hitters have had away from home ever since the Rockies began play in 1993.
Typically, Rockies batters have a hard time adjusting to breaking pitches on the road, where they usually move much more because there is more air resistance against the baseball near sea level than in the altitude of Denver. But the opposite has been true for Iglesias in 2022 -- he has thrived near sea level and struggled, by comparison, at the hitter’s paradise that is Coors Field.
“I feel like on the road, the ball breaks like it’s supposed to,” Iglesias said. “Whereas here, it doesn’t break as it’s supposed to. It should be easier for a hitter [at Coors Field] -- I think when you get used to it, it’s generally better to hit here, obviously. But having an idea where the ball is gonna end, it helps.”
In other words, Iglesias actually finds breaking balls on the road more predictable than the relatively flat breaking pitches in the altitude of Denver. As strange as that may sound, it’s working for him in a big way this season. And thanks to the help of a veteran teammate who has been trying to overcome the so-called “Coors hangover” that results when leaving altitude, Iglesias has steadily improved at home.
That .245 batting average at Coors has come quite a long way from where it was just a couple of months ago -- entering June, Iglesias was hitting .207 there. Since then, he’s hitting .304 at home.
“I was talking to Charlie [Blackmon], I collect a lot of information from him,” Iglesias said. “He’s a guy that’s been around a long time. When I come back from a road trip, I’d hit on a [pitching] machine, and I wouldn’t find the barrel for the first 10 or 15 swings. But then I started getting used to it.
“I feel like it’s the same [in the games]. I’m getting used to making the adjustments, and I’ve been much better here lately.”
As for becoming the franchise’s road batting average king, Iglesias isn’t shy about the goal now that he knows what the mark is.
“Let’s go break Mike Kingery’s record,” he said.