I’ll be honest. I didn’t have much hope for the Colorado Rockies at the start of the season. Sure, I made it to Coors Field for the season’s home opener, and was full of excitement that the boys of summer were back, but I didn’t honestly believe they would be very good this season.
I thought this year’s outlook for Colorado was so grim that I even told a few friends to be sure to watch the first few games of the season, because it may be the best and last chance the Rox will have a chance at playing above .500 this season. With no faith in second-year Manager Walt Weiss’s ability to lead the team to victory, I let pessimism get the best of me. So far, Weiss has proven me wrong. The Rockies are pretty damn good this year.
Even though it’s still very early in this 2014 baseball season, as we get into the month of May, the Rockies have done nothing but surprise me with an ability to win series after series. Of course, you would love to see your team sweep most of their series, but in all reality, if you can consistently win series after series, you probably find yourself in the postseason. It’s a good goal to have, and if the Rockies can find a way to continue to play the way they have through their first month of baseball, they will be contenders.
As of last Monday, the Rox had a record of 19-14, and were in second place in the National League West Division, only two games behind the San Francisco Giants. In all, the Rockies have taken seven out of 10 series so far this season. While the Rox have been unable to take a full sweep of a team, this year they have avoided being swept as well. The Rockies haven’t been real hot or real cold, but positively consistent.
It’s great to have Troy Tulowitzki back and in full force. As the team’s front man, Tulo, as of Monday, led the National League in runs scored with 24, slugging percentage at .727, on-base percentage at .477 and extra-base hits with 17. He’s second in the National League in batting average, at a whopping .364.
Perhaps the hottest story in Denver is the consistent hitting of third baseman Nolan Arenado who, despite a Rockies 5-1 loss last Sunday to the Mets, extended his hitting streak to 24 consecutive games. At the time, the streak was the best in baseball, and the second-longest streak in Rockies history. (Michael Cuddyer set the record at 27 games last year.)
While Arenado is the talk of the diamond in Colorado Rockies country right now, the entire Rockies team is making a name for itself in several categories. Again, as of early last week, the Rockies led all of Major League Baseball in the number of runs scored so far, with 186. At the time, the Chicago White Sox were behind the Rox, with 163. The Rockies also lead the majors with the number of hits at 342.
So far the Rockies have hit more doubles than any other team in baseball, more runs than any other team in baseball. The same goes for RBIs. Putting all that together, the Rockies, as a team lead the majors with a .298 batting average. Oh, yeah, the Rockies also topped the majors in on base percentage and slugging percentage.
The Rockies know how to score runs, and right now, at least, it’s easy to draw the conclusion that this young team is the most dangerous offensive team in all of baseball. Yes, we should be damn excited about the Colorado Rockies right now. They look great. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves yet, either. The Rockies have a curse of starting off hot and ending the season ice cold in the division’s cellar, as The Gazette’s Paul Klee pointed out last week.
This time last year, the Rockies were off to an impressive 16-13 start, and from there it went downhill in a bad, bad way. The pain ended last season with a record of 74-88. Over the past 10 years, as Klee reported, the Rockies have generally gone further when they have a slow start to the season rather than a fast start.
When the Rockies made it to the World Series back in 2007, the team started off the season with a 10-16 record. In 2009 when they made the playoffs, the Rox started off at 8-12.
On the flip side, the Rockies had their best start of the past 10 years in 2011, with a 17-8 start. That year they finished at 73-89. A 15-10 record in 2006 lead to a dismal 76-86 record.
I guess if history is to tell us what’s in store for the rest of the Rockies’ 2014 season, the future doesn’t look so bright. It’s the reason why Tulo told The Gazette that while he’s enjoying the winning ways of the Rockies so far, he’s not looking to celebrate any time soon.
“Am I having fun? Yeah, I am,” Tulo told Klee last week. “But people who watch me will say that my fun doesn’t come until we’re in the hunt for the postseason and reach the playoffs and get into the postseason.”
It’s easy to see that Tulo is itching for a shot at another World Series. This excites me because he wants it so bad. It gives me pause because I’m afraid if the Rockies continue to play themselves out of postseason baseball, he’s going to go find a team that will. I’d rather have Tulo playing in a World Series as a member of the Rockies rather than somewhere else.
The question remains: Will history repeat itself this year for the Colorado Rockies? Can they continue to play series-winning baseball? Or will they tank once again? Something tells me that this year’s team has something different about it. They have some fire in their bellies, and seem to have a chip on their shoulder.
This is all good, because they are going to need it. The NL West is going to be, once again, baseball’s toughest division to succeed in. The Giants look strong and will only get stronger as the postseason nears. The Dodgers, AKA the New York Yankees West, have the league’s richest payroll and more big-hitting outfielders than they know what to do with. They will be a force to be reckoned with as well.
Make no mistake about it, the Rockies have their work cut out for them this year. I think they have a chance, even if history says there is no way in hell.