Black hopes for offensive consistency in 2017

December 11th, 2017

Manager Bud Black is looking for the Rockies to build on the 2017 season, when they made their first postseason trip in nine years.

"It was good for the group because the original Rockies who hadn't been through it, the guys who we acquired had been through it," Black said Monday during his media session at the MLB Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. "So I think it was a nice situation to come together as a team.

"Now we've got to continue that."

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The Rockies met expectations defensively, where third baseman won his fifth Rawlings Gold Glove Award, second baseman DJ LeMahieu took his second and shortstop performed well enough that the club thought he should have been a finalist. They exceeded any predictions with starting pitching, especially going through a stretch of the season with four rookies in the rotation.

What's interesting is how to assess the offensive performance. Run production and traditional offensive stats pointed to a good year, but high strikeouts and unproductive outs led to some droughts. While the Winter Meetings are about filling roster holes, the overall goal of offensive consistency can only be met through in-season performance.

• Hot Stove Tracker

The top of the lineup was productive, with National League batting champion Charlie Blackmon and Arenado hitting 37 home runs apiece, and LeMahieu following up his 2016 National League batting championship with a solid year. There were strong periods from , now a free agent, and outfielder , but steady production throughout the lineup disappeared at times.

, last year's big free-agent expenditure, was held to 95 games. A healthy year could mean more production than a .274 average, seven homers and 40 RBIs. Parra was hitting .318 before a quad injury on June 6 cost him 28 games. Story struck out an NL-leading 191 times but hit 24 homers and 35 other extra-base hits.

Those are areas that could improve, and the Rockies are looking to add another impact bat -- possibly switch-hitting first baseman , who provided power and discipline with the Indians in recent years.

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"I thought where we could have done a little bit better was a little bit on some of the walk-to-strikeout ratios," Black said. "I thought that was something I think we need to improve on going into next year. But overall, it was a good year."

The signing of catcher Chris Iannetta should further help the pitching staff, and Iannetta provides occasional power.

Iannetta takes over for , who caught during the stretch run, and gives a young Rockies rotation a solid leader, according to Black.

"I think it's a great fit for Chris and for us. And I totally agree with his own thoughts there, that where he is now as a player and where he was as an original Rockie," Black said of Iannetta, who played for the Rockies 2006-11 and was part of two postseason teams. "On the defensive side, I'm sure any player will tell you that experience is such a great teacher.

"Here initially and then going to Anaheim, I know those years there with [manager] Mike [Scioscia] and that coaching staff, he grew. Then these last two years in Seattle and Arizona. I think you take away a lot of experiences from being around different coaching staffs and catching instructors and pitchers and managers. It's only natural that you're going to get better."