Rockies news and links for Thursday, April 29, 2021
Today marks four weeks since the Rockies beat the Dodgers on Opening Day by putting up eight runs, six of which came while Clayton Kershaw was on the mound. The good times were quickly followed by four losses and a week later came a seven-game losing streak. With the Rockies playing better as of late (ignoring Monday’s 12-0 drubbing by San Francisco), I figured four weeks into the year would be a good opportunity to put together a list of the three best players on the club so far this season.
The organization and fans alike have been waiting for Ryan McMahon to break out for a couple years and my goodness has he done so thus far this season. The way McMahon has been playing has helped soften the blow of the Nolan Arenado trade. Perhaps the most surprising part of that is how well he’s filled in defensively at the hot corner.
McMahon is tied for the league lead in bWAR with a 0.7 mark. At the plate, he’s tied for the league lead in home runs with eight and is hitting .273 with 15 RBIs. Add in being the team leader in SLG, OPS, and OPS+ and you see why he’s at the top of these rankings. As far as position players go, McMahon has been far and away the best the Rockies have to offer this year.
If McMahon has been the team’s best hitter by a good margin, then Jon Gray is his counterpart on the pitching side. Gray has been everything the team could have asked for this year out of their former number three overall pick (2013). It’s not just that Gray has been great relative to other Rockies pitchers; it’s that he’s been great relative to all other players in the Majors. Gray’s bWAR of 1.6 is good for a fifth place tie in all of baseball – Ronald Acuña Jr. also has 1.6 (ever heard of him?). Gray’s mark is not far off the league leader Jacob DeGrom, who with a bWAR of 1.9 has been historically good in the early going. Gray’s three wins pace the team as does his 2.54 ERA and it’s not particularly close. Next up in the rotation is Chi Chi González who sits more than a point higher at 3.60, and he’s only started three games compared to Gray’s five. If the Rockies want to improve on a sub-par April, they’re going to need the rest of the rotation to follow Gray’s lead — he’s been flat out dominant so far.
See: Tuesday night’s extra innings home run.
I shouldn’t have to write anything more than that but wow, what a difference a week makes! The good thing about crafting lists like this one at such an early point in the year is that one great week can erase all the damage that was done in three bad ones. C.J. Cron followed that exact formula, having been off to a rough start with the Rockies. Now that he’s gone on a tear, Cron is at or near the top in almost every major hitting category for this club. He’s tied for second in home runs with four, third in runs with 14, third in RBI, first in OBP, and second in SLG. and OPS. Cron has shown just how good he can be when he goes on a run and Rockies fans can only hope he keeps up some semblance of this pace for the rest of the season.
In years past, this list almost certainly would have had some combination of Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, and Charlie Blackmon featured. While Trevor’s recent run of play almost helped him crack the top three, Chuck Nazty has struggled mightily and you know what Arenado’s situation is, so it’s fresh faces galore in this season’s player power rankings four weeks in.
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There’s a fairly strong consensus in the eyes of Rockies fans that Jeff Bridich stepping down from his position of GM was a positive for the club, but with the club announcing a new GM won’t be determined until the end of the season, what’s in store for the interim who holds down the fort until then? Thomas Harding breaks down the tricky road ahead for whoever steps into the position, including the need to invest in the future, evaluate the current team and patch things up with the fans and media, amongst others.
Last year’s bullpen corps for the Rockies struggled so much that improving on it this year seemed almost inevitable. The first chunk of the season showed that last year’s struggles were no fluke, but since the New York Mets came to Denver to take on the Rockies, the bullpen has really turned it around. In the time since that first game against the Mets on April 17th the bullpen posted the fifth-best combined ERA in the National League at 3.69. The team at Rox Pile breaks down what’s going right for the different guys that have pieced together strong performances lately.
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