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Final 19 games for Rockies pivotal for avoiding all-time lows

Patrick Lyons Avatar
September 16, 2022

There’s a sizable opportunity for the Colorado Rockies over the next three days.

A trio of contests against the 61-82 Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field could help the 2022 squad from being on the wrong side of history.

The 108-year-old ballpark nestled in a neighborhood on the Northside seems quaint, but it’s not the type of location that produces home runs.

Wrigley Field has a home run factor of 98 since 2020, according to Baseball Savant. This means it allows less home runs than average, and is 16th overall among MLB’s 30 cathedrals. 

Since the Rockies’s schedule takes them to San Francisco and Los Angeles to close out their season, now is the time to make up some ground and avoid the worst home run total on the road in franchise history.

Away from Coors Field this season, their 40 home runs rank last in all of baseball.

Since the 2020 pandemic season was only 60 games, the 28 home runs on the road should remain the fewest for all-time if we just focus on the quantitative total.

But that’s a rate of almost one long ball per road game and Colorado is closer to one every two games away from home.

With an average of 0.58 homers per road game, 2022 could go down as the worst in the Rockies’ 30 seasons. 

Aug 25, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Colorado Rockies second baseman Ryan McMahon (24) crosses home plate after hitting a two-run home run against the Chicago Cubs during the 10th inning in game two of a doubleheader at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

To avoid this, they’ll need to take advantage of the Cubs suspect pitching and, at times, swirling winds that can push the baseball out past the ivy.

There are other key figures worth monitoring over the final 19 games of the season. Some will make you smile while others will not.

Base Stealing, Wheelin’ and Dealin’

The number 40 is a magic number right now. (Ok, magic is definitely the wrong word.)

Colorado has not been sleight of hand or, in this case, of feet this year.

Right now, their 40 stolen bases rank dead-last in team history and are tied for last in the National League with the San Diego Padres. 

Three more get them out of the cellar and five secures a safe place for second-worst in a 162 game season.

The issue stems from stolen base attempts. Right now, they make an effort to swipe a bag a little less than once every two games.

May 30, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies center fielder Garrett Hampson (1) steals second base in fifth inning against the Miami Marlins at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Garrett Hampson’s 10 SBs means the Rockies will avoid having no one reach that mark for the first time. If Ryan McMahon can’t nab three more, the 2022 club will join the 2002-03 squads as the only ones without two players to reach 10 or more.

And yes, Colorado’s 23 stolen bases on the road this season is the lowest total in any season, including the shortened campaigns of 1994, 1995 and 2020. 

They Call Him Cron

The recent offensive surge by C.J. Cron has increased the likelihood that the Rockies will not have to go another season without a hitter compiling 30 home runs and/or 100 RBI.

Sep 10, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies designated hitter C.J. Cron (25) rounds the base after his home run during the sixth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: John Leyba-USA TODAY Sports

Cron has 28 and 97, respectively, and barring some freak of nature, he’ll become the 15 man in purple to reach 30/100.

The last to do it was Nolan Arenado in 2019. (He did it a franchise-leading five times, tied with Todd Helton and Vinny Castilla.)

Speaking of Home Runs…

Remember that grand slam from earlier this year?

If you said yes, then your memory is playing tricks on you. It has a tendency of doing that with baseball recollections.

The Rockies are one of two teams – Nationals are the other – who have not hit a grand slam this season. 

That has never not happened for Colorado.

The 2011 campaign provided only one grand slam while 2013 (Arenado and Jordan Pacheco) and 2001 (Helton and, yes, Denny Neagle) produced a pair. 

Eliezer Alfonso hit the lone salami in 2011 for the Rockies in what his only homer in 2011 and the final home run of his six-year career in the Majors.

Road Warrior 

José Iglesias was not familiar with Denver or Coors Field or life at 5,280 feet above sea level when he signed a one-year deal in the offseason.

What he was much more comfortable for him was life on the road. It’s what he had done throughout his 11 seasons.

As such, Iglesias has done incredibly well to hit for average away from the hitter-friendly environs in LoDo.

Aug 28, 2022; New York City, New York, USA; Colorado Rockies shortstop Jose Iglesias (11) bunts for a base hit against the New York Mets during the seventh inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

At .333 (74-for-222), the 32-year-old shortstop has an opportunity to set a road record for the franchise.

While Mike Kingery is credited with the top mark of .362 in 1994, he started just 40 and stepped to the plate 188 times outside of Denver. 

Todd Helton batted .353 across 77 starts and 329 plate appearances during his legendary 2000 season, best among full seasons. 

The biggest obstacle in front of Iglesias is getting back to good health after being placed on the injured list with a right hand contusion. He’s eligible to come off the IL and could play as early as Friday in Chicago.

If he can return for the final nine games of the seasons, all in California, he’d have to go something like 17-for-35 in order to pass Helton. (To pass Kingery, it would be more like 20-for-35.)

Diamond Details

  • Kris Bryant’s status is still being bandied about despite not having suited up since July 31. If he doesn’t return for the final seven home games of 2022, he will go down with zero home runs at Coors Field this season. 
  • On Thursday, Jhoulys Chacín was given his release to put the Rockies’ 40-man roster at 39. The 34-year-old played for 14 years in MLB with seven teams, most prominently Colorado for eight years. He ranks among the top 10 in franchise history for wins, strikeouts and wins-above-replacement (according to Baseball Reference).

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