Call it “Coors chaos.”
That’s what the Rockies want to produce in order to capitalize on a ballpark that could, with the right approach, become one of the great home field advantages in baseball.
How do you create that chaos? Harkening back a few decades in franchise history may help.
The only team in AL/NL history to hit at least 200 home runs and steal at least 200 bases in the same season was the 1996 Rockies, who launched 221 homers and swiped 201 bags. Two players on that team -- Dante Bichette and Ellis Burks -- joined the 30-30 club.
The combination of power and speed can wreak havoc on opponents in a ballpark situated at altitude with a ton of space in the outfield. And it's a distinct area of focus in player development for the Rockies.
“Without a doubt,” said Triple-A Albuquerque manager Pedro Lopez. “There’s gonna be a lot of home runs hit at Coors Field. If we can put pressure on the defense when we get a base hit -- trying to stretch a single into a double, for example -- I think that’s going to make the other team make more errors.
“ ... That's the game we need to play. We saw it with Nolan Jones [20 homers/20 steals] when he went up, Brenton Doyle [22 steals], those guys who went up last year. They were a threat. … That’s something I’m trying to instill in these guys, trying to make them be more aggressive.”
The Isotopes hit 192 homers and stole 173 bases last season, Lopez’s first at the helm. And that was after a slow start. His insistence on aggression on the basepaths in addition to muscle at the plate is evident.
“It took us half a season last year,” Lopez said. “If you guys would have been in my meeting on Day 1, I was like, ‘We’re gonna run.’ It took us seventy-some games to actually start running. … I go back to that culture that was set last year.
“We were trying to set that foundation. … Hopefully, we can build from that.”