2015 Season Previews: Colorado Rockies

Over the next several weeks, The Baseball Haven will be creating season previews for all 30 MLB teams. You’ll find their projected records (based on PECOTA records from Baseball Prospectus, as of 2/15/2015), each team’s top three players (based on Steamer WAR projections from FanGraphs), and some valuable notes on each team, including likely bounce-back candidates, potential breakout players or fantasy sleepers, as well as a look back at offseason transactions which led to each team’s projections. Stop back frequently to see where your favorite team ranks! 

Colorado Rockies

Courtesy: MLB.com
Courtesy: MLB.com

2015 Projected Record: 71-91 (5th in NL West, 28th in MLB)

Manager: Walt Weiss (140-184 in two seasons with Colorado)

Top Three Players: SS Troy Tulowitzki (5.8), 3B Nolan Arenado (3.9), LHP Jorge De La Rosa (2.5)

Bounce-back Player: OF Carlos Gonzalez

At 28 and in the midst of his prime, CarGo had another injury-plagued season, finishing 2014 with just 70 games played for the Rockies. While the injuries allowed the club to watch Corey Dickerson, Drew Stubbs, and Charlie Blackmon excel in bigger roles, it was still painful for the Rockies and their fans to watch both of the high-priced stars (along with Tulowitzki) miss time once again, especially with Gonzalez and his final line – .238/.292/.431. If his leg injuries have sapped his speed, his game will have changed pretty significantly from his breakout 2010, the last season that he played in more than 140 games. He just needs to stay on the field to be productive, and with all of the other strong hitters around him in the lineup, an All-Star season is within reach as long as he suits up for 130 games – if he can do that. Considering the productivity that he could have if he is healthy, he’s a nice buy-low option and a bargain in drafts. Just make sure that you have a solid backup, as the Rockies do in Stubbs.

Blossoming superstar, 3B Nolan Arenado Courtesy: Denver Post
Blossoming superstar, 3B Nolan Arenado
Courtesy: Denver Post

Fantasy Player to Watch: 3B Nolan Arenado

Arenado was once a highly touted prospect, so it isn’t as if he is an unknown name; however, it’s the fact that he’ll be just 24 in April and he has nearly 1,000 major league plate appearances under his belt that make him interesting. Arenado has struck out just 130 times in his 981 plate appearances (13.3 percent), and his ability to make consistent contact is an asset in the spacious confines of Coors Field. As Arenado has matured, he has also increased his flyball and home run rates, going from 33.7 percent flyball and 7,1 percent home run/flyball in 2013 to 41.8 percent flyball and 11.4 percent home run/flyball rates in 2014. While he is unlikely to rip 35 home runs in 2015, he will certainly improve upon his 18 home runs from 2014, as he continues to turn some of his doubles into home runs, while improving on his already impressive .213 ISO from 2014.

Offseason Overview: Michael Cuddyer left for New York and the Mets organization early this offseason, but the Rockies have plenty of outfield depth to overcome that departure. With Drew Stubbs listed as the No.4 outfielder and Kyle Parker on his way up, the Rockies can withstand injuries at first base and outfield. Additionally, the club signed Nick Hundley to provide a more defensive-minded option at catcher, leaving slugger Wilin Rosario with no real opportunities. He could be a nice right-handed designated hitter, but he obviously can’t do that in Colorado. The pitching staff is still a bit pieced together, as the club waits for Eddie Butler and Jon Gray to take on larger roles in coming seasons. While they did sign Kyle Kendrick, his 4.92 K:9 over 1,138.2 career innings means that he can’t get the ball past hitters, and more contact will likely breed more inflated ERAs for Kendrick, who has a career 4.42 ERA and 1.37 WHIP.

The Verdict: The Rockies, once again, have a gifted group of hitters, who continue to take advantage of their spacious home ballpark; however, they don’t have the pitching to become a contender, especially in the super-competitive NL West. Jorge De La Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin, Jordan Lyles, Tyler Matzek, and Kendrick aren’t going to bring nightmares to opposing hitters in the way that Clayton Kershaw, Andrew Cashner, James Shields, Zack Greinke, and Madison Bumgarner do, but if they can manage games and hope that the offense takes control of the score, then they can at least be competitive each night. Colorado has a long way to go and a lot of hope in young arms, but if they don’t reach their potential, the organization will continue to be in a pitching-induced limbo for another decade. Watch this group put up impressive offensive numbers, while continuing to waiver in baseball purgatory as they aren’t the worst team in baseball, but they aren’t close to being the best, either.

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