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Rookie of the Year: Ryan Feltner overcomes early adversity to join special group of young starters

Patrick Lyons Avatar
October 22, 2022

Jackie Robinson won the first Rookie of the Year Award in 1947. Forty years later, it was renamed to honor the Civil Rights trailblazer. While Colorado may have developed many talented All-Stars during their time, starting pitcher Jason Jennings is the only Rockie to ever earn the NL Rookie of the Year Award.

Jason Jennings Award for Rookie of the Year

There was zero shortage of rookies this season as 10 different prospects made their Major League debut with Colorado in 2022.

Yet a rookie who debuted in 2021 was the one who proved most valuable to the club throughout the season. 

This approach of giving big league experience was precisely what fans witnessed during the final weeks with promotions for the likes of 1B/RF Michael Toglia, SS Ezequiel Tovar, and RHPs Gavin Hollowell and Noah Davis. 

Toglia and Tovar did not wait long to have their memorable moments.

Toglia tripled twice in the same game and homered with two outs in the ninth against Atlanta closer Kelley Jansen for the first of his career. 

Tovar singled on the first two pitches he saw with the Rockies, something never before accomplished in the National League since pitch tracking began in 2000. His first home run came in Los Angeles against Clayton Kershaw. Not bad.

Sean Bouchard had to wait for his second promotion to record his first base hit. The 26-year-old’s .508 OBP in September was second in all of MLB behind only Aaron Judge (.565) and the fifth-highest in the month in franchise history. He was also just the eighth player in Colorado history to have a month over .500 (min. 50 plate appearances).

Both Elehuris Montero and Brian Serven recorded two-homer games, while Wynton Bernard had one of the most heartwarming debuts anyone can remember.

Jake Bird went from a player who didn’t get called up until mid-June to pitching the third-most innings (47.2) in the entire bullpen this season. 

Ultimately, the young man who was knocked around during two starts in September 2021 was the one who made the most impact during the Rockies’ 2022 season.

Ryan Feltner

Debuting late in 2021 against the team that went on to win the World Series was no easy transition to pitching in The Show, especially when considering he was promoted all the way from Double-A Hartford. 

This opportunity was a departure from the organization’s typically conservative approach by the organization to get each prospect a taste at each level. Under GM Bill Schmidt, prospects no longer need to get a full year of seasoning at each level. The more aggressive approach to promotions continued throughout the minor league season. 

Feltner, let’s not forget, was the first. 

Sep 5, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Ryan Feltner (18) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Across 19 starts in 2022, the 26-year-old showed glimpses of potential on the mound. 

He went six innings or more giving up a solitary run in three different starts, and his final start of the year was equally as quality.

Starting his first game at Dodger Stadium against a club that had already won 110 games, Feltner completed six innings and gave up just two in Colorado’s 68th and final win of the year. 

While frustrating manager Bud Black at times with his penchant for the long ball, Feltner limited his walks more times that not. He gave out three or more on four separate occasions, something only Antonio Senzatela did better at avoiding. 

His final ERA was 5.83, but his 4.76 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching, a statistics that factors out the defense and focuses on the only three outcomes which a pitcher can control) suggests some unfortunate luck over his 97.1 innings of work.

When stepping back from his season of ups and down, there were numerous positives to point at, especially for a club who has relied upon young pitching to respond well to the daily disadvantages of Coors Field. 

Oct 4, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Ryan Feltner (18) throws to the plate in the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Only 25 rookies have ever made 15 or more starts in Rockies history, including seven different starters who received votes for the NL Rookie of the Year Award. 

According to his ERA+ of 80, Feltner ranks 22nd in that group just below Aaron Cook. When ranking by FIP, Feltner is 17th, right behind Cook again. When examining the things a pitcher can control, like strikeouts and walks, Feltner comes out much higher amongst his rookie peers with the franchise.

Feltner is 10th-best with his 1.408 WHIP, which measures base runners per inning. By strikeouts-per-nine, he places sixth-best (7.8) while strikeouts-to-walks, a solid indicator of control, ranks fifth-best in franchise history.

Ahead of Feltner’s 2.40 K/BB are Tyler Anderson, Jon Gray, Germán Márquez and Christian Friedrich. Immediately behind him are Jhoulys Chacín and Senzatela. 

Quite the company for the former Buckeye and 2022 Jason Jennings Award winner.

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