In the first year of the Colorado Rockies post Troy Tulowitzki era the face-of the-franchise torch has been firmly passed to third baseman Nolan Arenado who in the past two seasons has established himself as the National League’s leading slugger and premier third baseman.
Arenado led the NL in RBI (130) and total bases (354) for the second year in a row and has finished tied for home runs (41) in each of the last two seasons. He finished fifth in the league’s MVP voting and is the first third baseman to win the Gold Glove award in each of his first four seasons and was named to the last two NL All-Star teams.
Arenado fronted a Rockies offensive juggernaut that led the NL with 845 runs scored and a composite .275 team batting average and a third best 204 home runs. Second baseman D.J. LeMahieu led the NL with a .348 batting average and center fielder Charlie Blackmon provided pop from the leadoff spot knocking 29 home runs with 82 RBI and a .933 OPS. Right fielder Carlos Gonzalez hit 25 home runs with 100 RBI at a .298 clip and was named to his third All-Star team.
Rookie shortstop Trevor Story’s season began in story book fashion as he knocked a pair of home runs in his first big league game on Opening Day and went on to become the first player to hit home runs in his first four games, connecting for another pair in the fourth game. Story finished the season with 27 home runs, and 72 RBI with a .272 batting average in 97 games before an injury to his left thumb brought an abrupt end to his season on July 30th. He still managed to finish fourth in NL Rookie of the Year voting.
Although Colorado’s 860 runs allowed was the second most in the league, Chad Bettis (14-8, 4.79 ERA), Tyler Chatwood (12-9, 3.87) and John Gray (10-10, 4.61) led a vastly improved Rockies rotation. Chatwood posted an 8-1 record with a 1.69 ERA in 13 starts on the road and Gray led all major league rookie pitchers with a Rockies rookie-record 185 strikeouts. Rookie Tyler Anderson recorded a 3.54 ERA in 19 starts.
The 2016 Rockies improved by seven games in the win/loss column and jumped up two spots in the NL West division standings and have added eight-year veteran free-agent Ian Desmond slated to start at first base and set-up man reliever Mike Dunn. New manager Bud Black, a 15-year major league veteran hurler brings a pitcher’s perspective to a traditionally offensive minded team.
Colorado Rockies Prospects to Watch
Outfielder Raimel Tapia, 23, hit .323 at AA Hartford and .346 at AAA Albuquerque compiling 25, 10 triples, 8 home runs and 24 stolen bases before making his big league debut with the Rockies in September and figures to be in the big league mix again this year.