Welcome back to our ongoing series of MLB team previews. As part of RotoBaller's ongoing effort to help you win your leagues, we're previewing all 30 MLB teams. For each team, we will take a look at their hitters, pitchers, prospects and offseason moves. Today we dive into the 2017 Colorado Rockies Team Outlook and preview their potential fantasy baseball contributions.
The 2016 Rockies fought to a 75-87 record last season, which gave them third place in the NL West—16 games back of the Dodgers and 12 games back of a wild-card slot. However, with a talented bevy of youth looking to establish its identity, this is a team that could surprise in ‘17. Let’s take a look at the upstart Rockies organization heading into the 2017 season.
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The Rockies made waves by forfeiting their first-round pick -- No. 11 overall -- in order to sign Ian Desmond to a sweet five-year deal in December. Of course, Colorado didn’t need another outfielder, so it was clear from the jump that Desmond was signed to be a right-handed bat at first base.
They also signed Greg Holland, who missed all of 2016 recovering from Tommy John surgery, to help fill out a bullpen that was pretty awful last season. They also signed lefty Mike Dunn to help in that department. Those were the only notable moves unless you count signing Alexi Amarista to take over the Daniel Descalso utility role. I know, huge move.
Well, this section could go for days. This star-studded offense would likely bring the heat wherever they were, but calling Coors Field home just takes them to another level. A level that resides roughly a mile above sea level. Colorado’s 116 homers at Coors tied for second in the MLB for any team at home, with their 508 runs, 490 RBIs and .304 average all league-leading stats.
With an infield that now boasts Desmond, NL Batting Champion DJ LeMahieu, rookie phenom Trevor Story and Nolan Arenado—who finished fifth in NL MVP voting—the Rockies are poised to blitz opposing pitchers in 2017. And then behind the plate, we have the conflict of real life vs. fantasy, as Tony Wolters doesn’t offer us much offensively, but is a defensive stalwart. Meanwhile, Tom Murphy has 30-homer potential but needs to refine his defensive skills before getting an everyday job.
But that’s not all, of course. They have an outfield that sports three players who are being drafted inside of the top 25 according to NFBC ADP data. Charlie Blackmon (OF4), Carlos Gonzalez (OF17) and David Dahl (OF22). Blackmon’s power leap from 17 homers to 29 helped assuage the dip in steals from 43 to 17, but he also suffered a foot injury in April that may have brought on caution. CarGo has finally sustained good health and it shows. Unfortunately, Dahl will have to deal with Gerardo Parra (-1.8 WAR last season) challenging his playing time in left field, but ideally, Dahl will still play five games a week and be a solid contributor.
We’ve finally got some excitement again for this section! The infusion of young talent isn’t just happening to the offense, as Jon Gray and Tyler Anderson form a 1-2 punch ahead of Tyler Chatwood and Chad Bettis to provide some fantasy intrigue in Colorado. Chatwood and Bettis can likely be left to the streamers, but Gray in particular houses serious upside as illustrated by his 16-strikeout complete-game shutout against the Padres (and it was at Coors Field). Anderson is more of an artist with command, which resulted in a healthy 50.9% groundball rate alongside plus control (2.2 BB/9) and a still-useful 7.79 K/9.
Beyond that, we see three more green arms in Jeff Hoffman, German Marquez and Kyle Freeland fighting for the No. 5 rotation spot. This comes after Eddie Butler was mercifully DFA’d. This writer is pulling for Freeland—who looked sharp once he started feeling comfortable with his changeup-- to get the first crack, while Hoffman and Marquez work out of the ‘pen.
Speaking of that ‘pen, it logged the worst collective ERA (5.13) in the MLB last season. It was missing usual closer Adam Ottavino for much of the year as he recovered from Tommy John surgery, but should now profile much stronger with him back and the additions of Holland and Dunn. As of now, it isn't certain who will close between Ottavino and Holland, but Ottavino is the favorite given that he looked strong when he returned last season (seven saves, 2.67 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 11.67 K/9 and 2.33 BB/9 in 27 innings) while Holland will need to prove he's back to full game effectiveness.
One might think that the farm has to be tapped given how many younger players we’ve already discussed, but you’d be wrong. There are still a few big infield names, headlined by 20-year-old shortstop Brendan Rodgers who slashed .281/.342/.480 with 19 homers in 491 Single-A PAs last season and could become a strong power/average guy if he improves his plate coverage. He’s joined by Forrest Wall, a 2B/OF type who has struggled to grow with advancement but still has a plus-hitting tool, and Ryan McMahon, who has been playing first base now with Arenado firmly entrenched at the hot corner. McMahon has inspiring raw power but has seen his game power dip (only 12 homers in 534 Double-A PAs in '16) while his strikeouts rose to 30.1%. In other words, a lesser Joey Gallo.
On the mound, they have Riley Pint, a 19-year-old RHP who stands at six-foot-four that was selected fourth overall in the 2016 June Amateur draft. With the ability to hit triple digits on the radar gun he has ace potential, but he’ll need to refine his command as he grows into his frame. Dynasty leaguers should be on top of him.
The Rockies may become a popular pick for a wild card slot in 2017 thanks to this new generation of Blake Street Bombers and promising arms. Even if they fall short of that goal, this team will provide a ton of fantasy goodness. Fantasy owners of all shapes and sizes will want to get a piece or three.