After putting together the best start in franchise history, the Colorado Rockies will be watched very closely in the second half of the 2017 season. Although they have struggled over the last month, it’s no fluke that the team is 52-39. The Rockies are currently 9 1/2 games back of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West, but their current record has them comfortably in the second wild card spot, 7 1/2 games ahead of the Chicago Cubs.
The Rockies’ rookie pitching staff has had its ups and downs, but the core is still very strong. In order for the Rockies to have a successful second half, the offense will need to pick things up.
The Rockies’ team wRC+ sits at a painful 80, just one spot ahead of the last-place San Diego Padres. They’re currently 24th in walk percentage and 22nd in strikeout percentage. Of the full-time starters, only Charlie Blackmon, Nolan Arenado, and Mark Reynolds have an OPS+ over 100. Whenever these three go through periodic slumps, the offense on the team is nowhere to be found.
These numbers are obviously surprising when you think of the Rockies stereotype of “all offense and no pitching,” but there are still some reasons to believe their everyday position players will start to display of positive offensive regression, moving to the mean from the negative side of the ledger.
Ian Desmond, Carlos Gonzalez, and Trevor Story have been black holes in the lineup this season. All three have also produced below their career norms so far, one of the main negatives this season for the club.
Gonzalez has arguably had the biggest negative impact for the offense, hitting just six home runs and driving in 22 runs with a .637 OPS. CarGo has $20 million attached to him in his final year, so it’s unlikely the Rockies will cut bait at this point. It’s possible the Rockies will reduce his role in place of Raimel Tapia, which seems to make the most sense at this point given Gonzalez’s struggles.
Desmond has put up decent numbers, a .283/.321/.388 slash line, but that’s still not the type of production a team should get from a player who just signed a $70 million deal.
Story is likely the most frustrating out of the bunch, struggling to keep his OPS over .700 one year after after having a .909 OPS. His strikeout rate has jumped to an abysmal 35.2 percent, and he’s had trouble making contact with normally hittable pitches. Unless the Rockies make a trade before the deadline, possibly Zack Cozart, the team will ride Story for the rest of the season. Story is still young, and he hit 27 homers just a year ago, but he will need to readjust his approach if he plans on helping his club reach the postseason.
If these three guys can get going, the Rockies will be right back on track as they were in April and May. The pitching has its fair share of problems, but there’s enough there that a decent offense will carry the Rockies to their first playoff berth since 2009.