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2006 Colorado Rockies Team Review

What started out promising ended up as yet another sub-.500 season for the Rockies. Their rotation received a great deal of attention in the first half thanks to quality pitching from Jeff Francis, Aaron Cook and Jason Jennings, but that didn't last all year for the Rox. Jennings finished with a 3.99 Run Average and 212 innings pitched, while Francis (4.57, 199) and Cook (4.53, 212.7) also logged some of the best seasons in Rockies pitching history. As you can see in the above link, there aren't very many of those seasons to be impressed with. The worry going forward is whether 200 innings is too many at altitude, and how the starts willl react in the future to that many innings.

Josh Fogg (6.02, 172) and Byung-Hyun Kim (5.98, 155) made up the back end of the rotation, and pitched very poorly as you can see. The most positive news the Rockies had outside of having a strong front end to their rotation was that everyone remained relatively healthy, and only five starters logged double digits in starts. In fact, only eight starts were made by non-rotation members for the season.

Joe Sheehan mentioned the issues with the humidor in an August 3 piece this year. The Rockies park factor had plummeted from the most offensive park to #17 among the thirty teams; that is something that should not occur over the course of 2/3 of a season, given the conditions in Colorado. The fantastic pitching of the team -- coupled with the lousy offense -- may have played a part in skewing the one-year numbers. Considering the humidor balls were still in play during August and September, one has to wonder why exactly this happened. Did they have to go back to using regular baseballs later on in the year after running out of humidor gameballs? Was something amiss with the weather, sort of like what happens with Wrigley? Was everyone simply overreacting to an unfinished season sample? It's a subject that requires more of a look in the future, and I think having 2007 data will make it even easier to forecast for future reference.

As for the lineup, Jamey Carroll had a decent enough year for a second basemen, hitting .300/.377/.404 at second base. The issue is that Carroll hit .375/.445/.483 at Coors, and a paltry .220/.304/.318 on the road. I wrote a Notebook piece (linked above) that tried to figure out if Carroll was still valuable thanks to his defense, and I had some interesting information come in from readers following publication. Apparently the grass has been growing long at Colorado this year, making defense easier for the infielders at home than it would be during road games. So chances are good that Carroll is worth more with both the glove and the stick at home, and is at or below replacement level on the road. He was worth 26 Fielding Runs Above Average this year according to Davenport's metrics, which seems a bit otherworldy for roughly 100 Adjusted Games in the field. His Zone Rating was .861, where league average for 2B was .824, and he was rated as +12.67 RAA defensively with that metric, which seems a tad more realistic. I'll have to take a look at this again sometime soon to check and see whether it is worth it to have him around on the road.

Todd Helton's power continued to dip, as he hit .302/.404/.476 in his age-32 season. Considering the money left on his massive contract, the Rox cannot be pleased with that. Luckily for the Rockies, Garrett Atkins, Matt Holliday and Brad Hawpe all started showing some of their potential at the plate. I mentioned this at Baseball Prospectus back near the end of July, and nothing much has changed since then. Atkins hit .346/.416/.583 at home, and .313/.402/.531 on the road. Holliday hit .373/.440/.692 at Coors and a much poorer -- but still productive -- .280/.333/.485 on the road, while Hawpe actually hit better on the road: .282/.369/.454 at Coors, .303/.395/.571 away from it. These three players will be at the core of the Rockies going forward, and there is an abundance of young talent still in the system.

One of the most important pieces from that talent was called up in September, and almost immediately ripped the starting shortstop job out of Clint Barmes awful hitting hands. Barmes hit .220/.264/.335 with a .201 EqA for the season, while the 21-year old Troy Tulowitzki hit .240/.318/.292 with a .216 EqA. That isn't to say Tulo's performance was much better than the somewhat impotent bat of Barmes, but he is only 21, and was drafted all of a year and four months ago. The Rox have high hopes for him going forward, and they'll need his production, along with the aforementioned power trio, in order to compete in the National League West. That time period doesn't seem nearly as far off as it did prior to the 2006 season though, which is a great sign for Rox fans.