Inside the Rockies’ Dominant Start

Welcome to this week’s Tuesdays With Mitch, where it’s the middle of April and the weather in Colorado is complete crap. That sounds familiar. It’s a big Tuesday ’round these parts. The MLB-Best Colorado Rockies (huh?) play a double header against the other MLB-Best Atlanta Braves (they’re scheduled to do so anyway). The Nuggets host a playoff game. ESPN drops a 30 for 30 about John Elway. Hope you have a DVR. Let’s jump in.

Dexter Fowler hits home runs now. Like, all the time. He’s been a huge part of the best offense in the game. (Photo Hyoung Chang / Denver Post).

The Colorado Rockies will not lose 100 games this year. Barring catastrophic injuries, that much is clear. They are not the worst team in baseball. They are not the worst team in the National League. They might not even be the worst team in National League West. They’re generating a little buzz. And some other buzz.

The Rockies and Braves are both 13-5, tied for the best record in the Bigs. What I find most interesting is that the Rox haven’t just got off to a solid start, they’ve gotten off to a dominant start, particularly offensively. Check out their National League rankings in the major offensive categories:

Rox Offense

Through games played Monday 4-22.

So the Rockies rank 1st or 2nd in just about every major offensive category in the National League. They’re also in the bottom 3 in offensive strikeouts. (OPS+ is Park Adjusted OPS, which is an advanced stat from baseball-reference.com that eliminates any advantages or disadvantages that a team gets from the parks they play in).

So 18 games in, the Rockies have the best offense in the National League. The issue though, has always been their pitching.

So far they’re pitching has been pretty average. Given the expectations for this staff, that’s very encouraging. More specifically, the Rockies currently rank within a team or two of the league average in most pitching categories. However, Colorado ranks 2nd in baseball-reference’s ERA+ (which is the Park Adjusted ERA, just like the OPS+ explained above).

Jhoulys Chacin has been an ace. (3-0, 4 runs in 24.2 innings, 1.46 ERA). JC will miss his next two starts, which is concerning. Fans have to hope that doesn’t completely derail his season. Jorge De La Rosa has a streak of 17 consecutive scoreless innings. I still think he is the key to this rotation and, really, this season. John Garland has been very steady with a quality start in each game. He appears to be a savvy pickup. Both Francis and Nacasio have been good and not-that-good.

In the bullpen Rafael Betancourt is 7-7 in save opportunities. Wilton Lopez has been horrible and has fans frustrated, but his career numbers suggest that his 9.00 ERA is an aberration.

Many fans have said that average pitching and a baller offense could work for the Rockies and so far, it has.

What do we know from 18 games? Well, that’s a small sample size. That’s 11 percent of a season. That’s equal to about 36 NBA games. That’s not quite equal to two NFL games.

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, the Rox got off to a hot start in 2011, then completely fell apart. This feels different though. If the key cogs in the lineup stay healthy, the offense will be one of the best in the game all year. If the pitching can be somewhat stable the Rockies should greatly exceed the dismal preseason expectations. It’s just 18 games, but I feel comfortable saying that.

It’s reasonable to surmise that this team can flirt with a .500 record, which sounded crazy a few weeks ago. Maybe in September, this post will be something to laugh at when the Rockies prove to be just as bad as we all thought,  but as of right now, there’s certainly reason for optimism.

My official prediction for the Nuggets-Warriors series was Nuggets in five. The Warriors showed some brass on Saturday by nearly pulling off the upset, but they couldn’t get it done and this series is over. David Lee going down took out any potential for remaining intrigue. Kenneth Faried coming back only further cements the matter. I still think Golden State wins one in Oakland. Nuggets in five. I’m keeping the analysis fairly short on this because I don’t think the rest of the series will be all that interesting.

I’ve said for a few years that Andre Miller is probably my all time favorite Nugget, so I thought this was awesome.

My grandma can jump higher than Andre Miller and he just put up 28 points and a game winner in the NBA playoffs.

OTHER SPORTS STUFF

Kevin Harlan goes pretty hard in the proverbial play-by-play paint and he enjoyed Chris Anderson’s (Remember him?) dunk last night.

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Heartwarming baseball moment here to remind you why we love sports. (Full Story here)

A feature on Allen Iverson’s crappy life is a good read. Truly sad story.

This aired on SportsCenter when I was at a bar. Looked interesting so I found it online. An equally sad look at Jamarcus Russell’s downfall with a spin forward to his desire for a comeback. It was worth my 12 minutes.

OTHER MEDIA

A couple moments of levity from all the reporting from a crazy week in Boston:

Boom! Double stiff arm while hardly breaking stride. Not today, losers! What a strong play. He brushes those chicks off  like they were Manti Te’o playing Alabama.

and

I don’t care who you are, that’s just funny.

And here’s a couple excellent pieces coming out of Boston you should read:

The New York Times on 22 of the people seen in an image at the time of the first explosion.

The Washington Post on how we found the bad guys.

And finally, don’t ask me for insight on the NFL Draft, which starts Thursday. Nobody knows anything and all the extreme analysis is just absurd. The draft is crucially important, but all the talk surrounding it is just nonsense. I half-assed this post a year ago that expands my thoughts on this.

Happy Tuesday everybody. See you next week.

Comment on any of this stuff below, or email me at mdhahn1@yahoo.com with post ideas, videos or other media I should know about. Subscribe at the top right of this page. Follow me on Twitter @MitchDHahn.

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