The Colorado Rockies finished under .500 for the sixth season in a row as they ended 2016 at 75-87, good for third in the National League West. On the bright side, they improved their 2015 win total from 68 to 75 and won the most games in a season since 2010, when they won 83. While Colorado fans went another season without playoff baseball, there were a few storylines they were able to follow in 2016.
Colorado Rockies 2016 Season Recap
Trevor Story Put on a Show
Baseball fans may look at the name Trevor Story and remember how exciting he was to watch early in the season. Story, then just a prospect, came in to replace Jose Reyes as the everyday shortstop this season. Reyes was obtained in a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays at the 2015 deadline that sent Rockies franchise shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to Canada. After a domestic violence case and a 51-game suspension, Reyes was cut by the Rockies and signed by the New York Mets. In his absence, Story got a chance, which he quickly took advantage of.
Story started breaking records on day one. He became the first rookie to club two home runs in his MLB debut. He also hit seven home runs in his first six games, becoming the first player to hit that many home runs to start his rookie season, as well as the first player to ever do that for a team in its first six games.
While he started to slow down after April, he still ended up breaking another record by July. On July 23, he hit his 25th home run to unseat Tulowitzki for the most home runs hit by a National League rookie shortstop.
While he could’ve done even more, he sustained a thumb injury on July 30 which he later learned would need season-ending surgery. Still, he finished 2016 with a .272/.341/.567 slashline, along with 27 home runs and 72 RBI. Though he missed the last two months of the season, he came in fourth for the Rookie of the Year Award.
The Offense Had Another Outstanding Season
The Rockies have often had good offensive teams. They have finished each of the last three seasons in the top five in runs scored. This season, they finished second overall in that category with 845, thanks to players like Story, DJ LeMahieu, Charlie Blackmon, Carlos Gonzalez, and Nolan Arenado.
Compared to his teammates, LeMahieu has always been low on power, but high on contact. He followed up a .301 batting average in 2015 with a .348 average this year. He sat out the last two days of the season to solidify the batting title. He beat out Daniel Murphy, who also sat out, but due to injury.
Blackmon had a bounce-back year in 2016. In 143 games, he hit .324/.381/.552 with 29 home runs, 82 RBI, 111 runs scored, and 17 stolen bases. That performance earned him a Silver Slugger Award. Although 2015 was not a bad year for Blackmon, he was less productive in more games. In 157 games he hit .287/.347/.450 with 17 home runs, 58 RBI, and 93 runs scored. The only category he did much better in last year was stolen bases (43).
Gonzalez had another productive and overall healthy year. Since 2010, Gonzalez has always been a force to be reckoned with when he was on the field. However, it was difficult to keep him on the field for the whole season. From 2011-2014 the most games in played in during a single season was 135. After playing in 153 games last season, he saw action in 150 this season.
Arenado continued to treat MLB pitchers like minor league pitchers in 2016. He led the National League in home runs and RBI for the second year in a row. He was also won his fourth Gold Glove Award in four seasons, was named an All-Star for the second season in a row, won his second Silver Slugger in as many seasons, and came in fifth place in the MVP Award voting after coming in eighth place last year.
The Pitching was Still the Problem
After looking at all the offensive achievements, it may seem strange that the Rockies weren’t a playoff team. Once you look past the offense however, there isn’t much to see.
The Rockies pitching has always been a problem, thanks largely to playing in Coors Field. Even when they have pursued talented free agent pitchers, they have never seemed to find the right people to pitch at Coors.
This season was the same story. They finished 27th in the majors with a 4.91 ERA. That is actually their best mark since 2011. That isn’t as much progression from the Rockies as it is regression from other teams. Even when the Rockies finished 30th in 2014, their ERA of 4.84 was better.
Anderson went 5-6 with a 3.54 ERA and 99 strikeouts in 114.1 innings. He played in 19 games and started them all.
Ottavino pitched 27 innings in 34 games out of the bullpen. He finished 1-3 with seven saves, 35 strikeouts, and a team-best 2.67 ERA.
Chatwood started all 27 games he appeared in and pitched 158 innings. He went 12-9 with a 3.87 ERA and 117 strikeouts.
None of these pitchers were outstanding, but they stood out on a team that has notoriously struggled to get production on the mound year after year.