On the Rox: Reason for Optimism
It is June 16, 2017. The Colorado Rockies are tied for 1st in the NL West. The same Colorado Rockies are tied for the best record in the NL. Arguably most impressively, the Rockies are off to their best start in franchise history at 41-26. There is one slight issue. We’ve yet to reach the All-Star Break. As a budding Colorado Rockies fan, if I’ve learned one thing about this team it’s that optimism before the All-Star Break is false hope. A cardinal sin even. I’m here to tell you, my dear friends in love of the Rockies, that it’s time to be optimistic. These Rockies are not the same old Rockies and I’ll give you four reasons why.
Reason #1: Greg Holland
The most important acquisition this offseason for the Rockies was Greg Holland. Holland leads the majors with 23 saves. That’s six more than anyone in the NL and five more than anyone in the AL. In 23.2 innings, Holland has only allowed 10 hits, three earned runs, and one HR. He has 32 SO against 11 BB and an ERA of 1.14 with a .089 WHIP. Pitching has long been an issue for the Rockies, but not just the starting pitching. The bullpen has been a concern as well. Along with others, Holland has been that bullpen rock solid and it can help maintain a lead at Coors Field and on the road. So, reason number one for optimism for Rockies fans is Greg Holland.
Reason #2: Ian Desmond
Arguably the second most important acquisition for the Rockies this offseason was Ian Desmond. While it has been a slow start for Desmond, a lot of that can be attributed to starting the season on the DL. Since coming off the DL, he’s been useful for this team. Desmond sports a .278 BA with 19 RBI and a .311 OBP. Desmond’s great value to the team might be his versatility. He was brought on to play 1st base, but Reynolds has that position locked down. Instead, Desmond has held his own in left field. Were Reynolds to get hurt, Desmond could easily slide over to 1st base. If worse comes to worse, Desmond could likely play other positions in the outfield. It would not be ideal but it could be a much-needed bandage to hold the team over. Ian Desmond is reason number two for Rockies fans to be optimistic.
Reason #3: Jon Gray
Before going down to injury, Jon Gray was clearly the ace of this Rockies pitching staff and he was getting better. I was at the game last year when he threw a franchise record 16 strikeouts. Jon Gray was placed on the DL on April 14th and has yet to return. This, which came as a shock to many Rockies fans, has not been an issue. The pitching staff in 10th in the league in ERA (4.08), 10th in Quality Starts (31), 10th in WHIP (1.29), and 8th in BAA (.245). Yes, this has all been without their ace. If he comes back anywhere near as good as he was last season, Jon Gray is reason number three for optimism.
Reason #4: Nolan Arenado
Mr. Arenado is arguably the best 3rd baseman in the majors. My new Rockies bias would have me say he’s the best 3rd baseman in the majors (no disrespect to Kris Bryant). Offensively, he’s one of the best: .288 BA, 14 HR, 46 RBI, and a .346 OBP. Defensively? 1.000 fielding percentage, zero errors, 19 double plays, 136 assists, and a 1.7 defensive WAR. So, defensively? Absolutely stellar. The fourth reason to be optimistic for Rockies fans is Nolan Arenado.
While there are many reasons for Rockies fans to be optimistic, these are my top four. It’s hard to predict the future, the future meaning injuries, but that’s out of our control. As fans, what is in our control is our level of optimism. Even before All-Star Break, it’s time for Rockies fans to get excited. These aren’t the same old Rockies.