Rockies Offensive Struggles Are Reasons for Great Expectations

Amid all the discussion concerning what's wrong with the Rockies, it's time to take a deep breath, sit back and relax and consider the possibility for their early season offensive woes and spotty starting pitching actually underscores why this team is so good.

Consider the rotation is 4-8 and has the 12th highest ERA in the NL at 4.13. The team is last in the NL with a .218 batting average and .286 on-base percentage, and has struck out 168 times in 18 games, second in the NL, four behind the Padres.

Reason for concern? Nope.

Reason for hope? You bet.

Sorry. The Rockies aren't an aging team with key players are on the downslope.

It's a team that is relatively young. The current 25-man roster averages 28.1 years of age, sixth youngest in the NL, 11th youngest in MLB, according to ESPN.com. The only regular older than 32 is catcher Chris Iannetta, who at 35 is the oldest player on the team.

Chad Bettis is the old man in the rotation with his 29th birthday approaching in a week, and he is the only member of the rotation with as much as three years of big-league service time.

That's the good news. This team is young, and it's talented, and the fact it is sitting in second place in the NL West with a 10-8 record and so much has gone wrong underscores why there is so much reason to things things will be better -- and soon.

This is, after all, a team that is known for dominating at home, and scuffling on the road. But right now it is a team that goes into Tuesday night's game in Philadelphia with an 8-4 record on the road, including just finishing up taking three out of four from the Nationals in Washington, D.C.,and opened it's visit to Pittsburgh with a win on Monday night.

This is a franchise known for its explosive offense, particularly at home. So what is there to read into the fact that it has a lineup that is hitting a combined .248, has only one regular hitting .300, and four regulars below .250? 

Easy. There are a lot of hits yet to come. The track records are there. And so is a welcoming home schedule. Remember 12 of the first 18 games have come on the road, just six at Coors Field. 

Yes, the Rockies have struck out 168 times, second in the NL, four shy of the Padres. The Rockies and Padres, however, are the only two NL teams who went into Tuesday having played 18 games. If you break the strikeouts down to a per-game ratio the Rockies 9.33 strikeouts per game actually rank eighth in the NL. And it is worth noting that 11 of the 15 NL teams are averaging more than nine strikeouts per game, and only two are below 8.5 strikeouts per game.

The rotation is only 4-6, well below it's success rate of a year ago, but it's the same basic unit as a year ago -- with Bettis replacing Tyler Chatwood as the sage veteran. And the ERA is in line with last year, even if the winning percentage isn't. There also is reason to believe as the season progresses the young staff will continue to make adjustments and the results will improve. A look at NL rotations, their winning percentage and ERA in the opening days of this season to last year underscores that.

The Rockies off-season focus was on the bullpen, which led to them not only re-signing free agent Jake McGee, but also bringing in free agents Bryan Shaw and Wade Davis. Davis was given a three-year deal with a $17.3 million annual average value, the biggest in MLB history. Shaw and McGee both signed three-year deals worth $27 million each. The results are promising for the Rockies to surpass the bullpen success level of a year ago.

What remains a strength for the Rockies is their defense. Not only do they rank second in the NL in fielding percentage, but they have averaged one error every three games, the second best ratio among NL teams.

Tracy RingolsbyComment