The Rockies crashed from high altitude this year, and it wasn't Not Jim Tracey's fault.
Kiss 'Em Goodbye is a series focusing on MLB teams as their postseason dreams fade—whether in September (or before), the League Division Series, League Championship Series or World Series. It combines an overview from Baseball Prospectus, a front-office take from former MLB GM Jim Bowden, a best- and worst-case scenario ZiPS projection for 2012 from Dan Szymborski and Kevin Goldstein's farm system overview.
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Playing at Coors usually gives the Rockies a major advantage, but that hasn't been the case this year.
The Colorado Rockies aren't winning at home this year, and that is a problem. One of the franchise's trademarks in recent years has been the ability to dominate opponents at Coors Field (all numbers are through games of Sunday, June 26):
The Colorado coaching staff has mile-high hopes for Ubaldo Jimenez and the rest of the Rockies' young rotation.
Clint Hurdle understands the stereotypes that surround the Rockies as much as anyone. Though Hurdle is now the Pirates' manager, he spent more than seven years managing the Rockies from April 2002 to May 2009. He served as the Rockies' hitting coach for five seasons before that.
Pegging BP's favorites in both leagues, both in the standings and for the major awards.
Today we reveal the Baseball Prospectus staff predictions for the division standings and the major player awards (MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year) in the American and National Leagues. Each staff member's division standings predictions may be found later in the article. Here, we present a wisdom-of-the-crowds summary of the results. In each table you'll find the average rank of each team in their division with first-place votes in parentheses, plus the results of our pre-season MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year voting.
For the MVP voting, we've slightly amended the traditional points system in place that has been used elsewhere, dropping fourth- and fifth-place votes to make it 10-7-5 for the MVP Award, and the regular 5-3-1 for the Cy Young and Rookie of the Year Awards (that's 5 points for a first-place vote, 3 points for a second-place vote, etc.). Next to each of these selections we've listed the total number of ballots, followed by the total number of points, and then the number of first-place votes in parentheses, if any were received.
Do the Rockies have an unearned reputation as a second-half team?
On August 22, the Rockies languished 11 games behind the first-place Padres in the National League West. Tommy Bennettkept the faith despite the team’s predicament, but aside from his beard (whom I’ve anthropomorphized since our first encounter), few observers shared his belief in a rosy denouement in Denver. With a double-digit deficit in the loss column and just 39 games to play, the Rockies appeared to have gotten themselves into another nice mile-high mess.
Of course, we know what happened next: fast-forward less than four weeks, and the standings look quite a bit different: on September 18, the Rockies trailed the Padres by a single game. In retrospect, maybe we should have seen this coming. After all, the Rockies have made a habit of reeling off late-season victories in the last few years. In 2007, they famously won at a .613 clip to force a 163rdgame and earn a spot in the NLDS after a .500 first half. In 2008, the team finished with a losing record, but after going 39-57 before the All-Star break, played at a .530 pace in the second half. And finally, last season’s Rockies finished the first half six games over .500, but played .608 baseball the rest of the way. Earlier this season, the club was even criticized for its apparent unconcern, ostensibly arising from the confidence imparted by its players’ past second-half successes. Case closed, right? The Rockies are a second-half club.
The Rockies' travels in the next 2 1/2 weeks will define their season, along with other news and notes from the major leagues.
By nightfall on August 22, it should be quite clear whether the Rockies will have a chance of returning to the postseason for the second straight season and third time in four years. The Rockies play the finale of a three-game series against the Diamondbacks that afternoon at Chase Field in Phoenix. It will mark the end of a string of games in which the Rockies play 13 of 16 on the road over the course of 18 days.
Despite tailing off in their quest for the NL West title, the Rockies still have a chance to play in October.
What happened to the Rockies? On July 11, the odds that they would make the playoffs were a healthy 64 percent, the highest of their season. Their third-order win percentage had hovered just below .550 for much of May and June, but their actual winning percentage stayed much more modestly around .500. But by July, the Rockies were finally bringing performance into line with expectations. Even as the surprise story of the early season—the emergence of a devilishly goodUbaldo Jimenez—began to falter, the bats came to life. In the month preceding the July 11 peak, Carlos Gonzalez batted .352/.386/.667, hit nine home runs, and stole five bases in 114 plate appearances. Seth Smith, another great terrorizer of right-handed pitching, hit .352/.413/.611 over the same stretch (albeit in just 63 plate appearances). Dexter Fowler returned from Triple-A Colorado Springs in late June and hit .280/.419/.560 in the 12 games leading up to July 11. Even Chris Iannetta, no stranger on the Colorado Springs-to-Denver express bus, rapped out a .256/.383/.615 line over the course of that month as a signal to the powers that be that he was ready to play.
Pegging BP's favorites in both leagues, in the standings and for the major awards.
Today we reveal the Baseball Prospectus staff predictions for the division standings and the major player awards (MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year) in the American and National Leagues. Each staff member's division standings predictions may be found later in the article. Here, we present a wisdom-of-the-crowds summary of the results. In each table you'll find the average rank of each team in their division with first-place votes in parentheses, plus the results of our pre-season MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year voting. Picking favorites for the Wild Card for the respective leagues initially might have seemed easy, since the selections universally favored the second-place team in the AL East, while all but two voters picked their second-place teams in the NL East to earn the non-division champ playoff team, but a tie in the rankings had to be broken in favor of the team named the Wild Card winner on the most individual ballots, which is sure to upset some people.
For the MVP voting, we've slightly amended the traditional points system in place that's been used elsewhere, dropping fourth- and fifth-place votes to make it 10-7-5 for the MVP Award, and the regular 5-3-1 for the Cy Young and Rookie of the Year Awards (that's 5 points for a first-place vote, 3 points for a second-place vote, etc.). Next to each of these selections we've listed the total number of ballots, followed by the total number of points, and then the number of first-place votes in parentheses, if any were received.
A rematch from the '07 postseason makes for a great showdown of two teams with very different virtues.
Well, here we are again, with the Phillies and Rockies set to battle one another in the National League Division Series for the second time in three seasons. Just as it was in 2007, the Phillies enter the fray with a division title while the Rockies used an incredibly strong second half to win the NL Wild Card. Unlike that entertaining 2007 season, however, in which the Phillies ousted the Mets from the top spot of the NL East on the final day of the season, only to have their spotlight stolen soon thereafter by a Rockies team that won a controversial play-in game, this year's Phillies controlled their division practically all season. In addition, the Rockies' second-half surge proved so strong that they actually gave the division-leading Dodgers a run for their money in the final week. A good chunk of the 2007 cast of characters remains intact for each team, but enough has changed to merit a new writeup instead of a recycled version of the prior Phillies/Rockies preview.
The postscript on the stretch races of 2007, and how remarkable the blown leads and late-season successes of that year were compared to history's most epic collapses.
Given the peril the Tigers' season is in, it seems appropriate for us to bring this back to provide a sense of the history of epic collapses. This was the new chapter that was supposed to go into the paperback edition of It Ain't Over, but for reasons only the publisher can adequately explain, it didn't get inserted. Given that we've got a great race in play once again, here's what you missed.