End-of-the-year awards tell the story of the Rockies season
Rockies fans, you made it! The team now has just four games left this season, a day game against the Giants on Thursday and one more three-game homestand starting this Friday against the Brewers. You made it to the end of what has been a very disappointing season.
Before the year started, Rockies fans and the baseball community had big hopes for the team in 2019. It’s safe to say the Rockies fell well short of expectations. By a milel
If you’ve still been riding with the boys at 20th and Blake this whole season, I give you huge props and congratulate you. Go ahead and feel free to give yourself a pat on the back.
It hasn’t been all terrible, though. There have been some good moments for the Rockies this season.
On the flip side, obviously there have been some terrible moments this season for the Rockies. Which is why with this being my last article of the year with the Rockies in season, I wanted to look back at the good and bad moments and players this season, handing out some end of the season awards for the Rockies.
I’ll stay positive with my first award given out here with who the Most Valuable Player of the Rockies has been in 2019. No shocker on this one, as once again the team’s MVP this season was third baseman Nolan Arenado. This season, Arenado has once again hit well above .300. On top of that, the third baseman has hit more than 40 home runs once again, collected more than 100 runs batted in again, while also playing in 150-plus games of the teams 162-game schedule. He’s also once again of course provided his stellar defense all year for the Rockies. Arenado has continued his annual tradition of being the team’s Most Valuable Player. Of course, this is a trend that I see continuing in 2020 and beyond. The only question moving forward will be, when has he had enough of the Rockies if the team can’t crack the postseason and play winning baseball in October? (Honorable mention: Trevor Story)
For my second award given out, I’ll go back to a more negative category – the team’s most disappointing player this season. I wouldn’t go as far to say this person is the team’s Least Valuable Player, but just someone who didn’t live up to expectations this season. This category in my mind has to go to starting pitcher Kyle Freeland. This year, Freeland has been a huge disappointment for the Rockies, not only because the team’s starting pitcher depth was awful, but because of what Freeland was able to do the year before. In 2018, Freeland posted a 2.85 ERA while also winning 17 games and striking out 173 batters. That was good enough for a 8.4 WAR in 2018.
Jump to 2019 and his numbers took a huge hit this season. So far this season through Wednesday’s game, Freeland has a 6.84 ERA with only three wins and a WAR of -0.7. Ouch, that one hurts, Rockies fans. He also spent a good amount of this season in the minors trying to figure stuff out. He’s been the team’s Most Disappointing Player and someone that frankly has to turn it around in 2020 if the Rockies want to have success. I’ll admit, though, I’m very skeptical he’ll be 2018 good again. Maybe his 2017 stat line (4.10 ERA, 11 wins & a 3.3 WAR) is something we should hope for. (Honorable mention: Daniel Murphy)
Next up, I have my award for the Rockies Most Improved Player this season. This one I’ll give to starter Jon Gray. I know he’s finishing the season the injured list (foot fracture) and he’s also shown promise in the past, but Gray really put together a nice season before his injury. In 2018, he wasn’t terrible by any stretch, but he did not fully live up to expectations with his 5.12 ERA. In 2019, he got his ERA down once again to 3.84. Also, I’m not sure how you would measure this, but Gray just had a different presence to him when he took the mound. He looked in control and like he could stay in control of the game for longer stretches in 2019. Hopefully, this is a trend that continues in 2020. (Honorable mention: Ryan McMahon)
Back again on a more negative note, a player that saw the most regression. I’d give this to Kyle Freeland again, but since he’s already the most disappointing, I’ll go with someone else for the Biggest Step Backwards. For this one instead, I’ll go with reliever Wade Davis. During the past couple of seasons, we’ve seen Davis declining with his numbers. However, he went from being a serviceable closer in 2018 (4.10 ERA/43 saves) to someone you have to look at and wonder, how much does he have left? Davis this year has a 8.65 ERA with only 15 saves. During his 10-year career, he has now surpassed 1,000 innings pitched with postseason and regular season experience. He still has two years of good money left on his deal, so buckle up Rockies fans. Maybe he can carve out a middle relief role in 2020, but chances are we won’t see a huge resurgence from the soon to 35-year-old righty. (Honorable mention: Kyle Freeland)
For these final handful of 2019 Rockies awards, I’ll go a little more rapid fire. Starting with…
Best Overall Valuable Pitcher: Reliever Scott Oberg. Did you watch the Rockies bullpen this season? If Oberg wasn’t out there, the Rockies might have had one of the worst bullpens of all-time or maybe even the worst. Hopefully, Bud Black really leaning on him heavily at times this year doesn’t impact him in 2020.
Rookie of the Year: Infielder Garrett Hampson. A couple of weeks ago, this would have been a hard one to determine. Hampson, however, has really started to hit better during the past couple weeks. He’s starting to show why he can be a valuable piece on the Rockies in 2020 with his speed and little bit of power he can provide. (Note: This should be Brendan Rodgers to grab in 2020. I expect huge upside in Rodgers next season. Play him, Bud!)
Most Concerning Player: Outfielder David Dahl. Will he ever stay healthy? I know some of his injuries have been fluky, but at some point you have to ask, is he ever going to put together a full season? He got to 100 games played this season, but that’s his high-water mark. Each of his three seasons so far when he has been on the field, he’s showed why he could be a force in this league for years. It’s just a question of can he stay healthy. If he can’t in 2020, you might start to have the conversation of is he a bust?
Player Most Likely Take the Next Step in 2020: Infielder Ryan McMahon. The past two seasons, McMahon has shown huge numbers in spring training. Last season, he followed up his exhibition numbers with some up and down numbers. This season, he has hit for more power and a decent average in the regular season. This is also while not playing everyday/getting a ton of time at second base for most of the season. I expect McMahon to hit for more than 30 home runs and bat around .250 again in 2020 if the team allows him to be an every day first baseman. Once again, play him, Bud!
Player Who Should be Gone but Won’t be in 2020: Outfielder/infielder Ian Desmond. The past couple of seasons haven’t been the worst stat lines for Desmond. But, they also haven’t been the best. Desmond had an okay year this season, although once you consider his defensive liability at times and his contract, he’s not worth the headache. The only issue is that Desmond has some money remaining on his deal. I would like to see the team move on from him via trade or release, but in my opinion because of the contract, Desmond will be on the roster at the start of the 2020 season. Look for a possible trade at the deadline this next year. You’re not going to get the same value you signed him for, though.
Players to Keep an Eye on Next Year: Outfielder Raimel Tapia and Sam Hilliard. I’m really high on both players. A little lower on Tapia after watching him this season. I’m even higher on Hilliard now, though. I’ve always thought Tapia could bring a really nice speed/average combo with some occasional power mixed in. He showed it a little this year. The only reason why I’m a little down is because he’s had the chance to play more this season and hasn’t really completely ran with it. I’m not giving up though and hopefully he improves even more in 2020. I love Hilliard’s stock for 2020. I know most of his numbers have come late in the year, but he’s show really good power and the ability to hit okay at the big-league level. Is he an everyday starter? Maybe not. But I would give him a try. At the very least, he’s a really good bench power bat that should make an impact in 2020 for the Rockies. Give him at bats and he will hit 20-plus home runs next year.