It was yet another losing season for the Colorado Rockies in 2016, the sixth straight for the franchise.
The club and their fans have experienced just six winning seasons in the first 24 of their existence.
For awhile there appeared to be serious strides being made on the field. The club reeled off four straight wins as August was drawing to a close.
Following a shutout victory in the first game of a doubleheader on August 31 against the first place Los Angeles Dodgers, the Rockies had moved to 64-68 and were just six games out of an NL Wildcard playoff berth.
But then yet another collapse began. The Dodgers took the nightcap of that doubleheader in a typical Coors Field 10-8 slugfest. It would set off an 11-19 finish for Colorado that buried any talk of the postseason.
It’s hard to see how this franchise is ever going to seriously contend over the long haul in their mile-high environment. The simply spooks off the best free agent pitching from even considering making the otherwise beautiful Denver area their home.
The latest casualty of the losing and accompanying frustration was manager Walt Weiss. A former Rockies player from 1994-97, Weiss skippered the club from 2013-16. He resigned with his contract up at the end of the season after compiling a 283-365 record over the four seasons.
The new manager will be Bud Black, a 15-year big league pitcher. Black managed the Rox’ NL West rivals, the San Diego Padres, for parts of nine seasons from 2007-15. His experience on the mound and in facing Colorado all those years should give him unique insight into the challenge.
General Manager Jeff Bridich and his team are simply going to have to keep trying to develop pitchers from within through the draft, and by acquiring younger arms in trades, hoping to come upu with a winning mix.
COLORADO ROCKIES 2016 PITCHING LEADERS
This year the Rockies pitching rotation saw their 2013 first round draftee Jon Grayemerge in his official rookie campaign. Gray went 10-10 with 185 strikeouts while allowing just 153 hits in 168 innings over 29 starts.
27-year old Chad Bettis led the club with 14 wins, 186 innings pitched, and 32 starts. 26-year old Tyler Chatwoodwent 12-9, allowing just 147 hits over 158 innings in 27 starts after recovering from a second career Tommy Johnsurgery.
Lefty Tyler Anderson was called up in June and went 5-6 with a 3.54 ERA, allowing 119 hits over 114.1 innings in 19 starts with a 99/28 K:BB ratio.
In the pen, Jake McGee missed a big chunk of June, but still registered 15 Saves. 23-year old Carlos Estevez stepped in with 11 Saves while McGee was out. He allowed just 50 hits over 55 innings with a 59/28 K:BB ratio.
ROCKIES 2016 OFFENSIVE LEADERS
In the lineup, center fielder Charlie Blackmon won an NL Silver Slugger Award. He hit for a .324/.381/.552 slash line with 29 homers, 35 doubles, 82 RBI, 111 runs scored, and 17 steals.
Rookie shortstop Trevor Story burst onto the scene with 27 homers, 72 RBI, 67 runs scored and 8 steals with a .272/.341/.567 slash line. All that was accomplished by July 30, when his season was ended by torn thumb ligaments. He still finished fourth in NL Rookie of the Year voting.
Carlos Gonzalez was an NL All-Star for the third time. He hit for a .298/.350/.505 slash with 25 home runs, 42 doubles, 100 RBI and 87 runs scored. Now 31 years old, he will be a free agent after the 2017 season.
Second baseman D.J. LeMahieu received NL MVP votes after a .348/.416/.495 season in which he struck 11 homers and 32 doubles, drove in 66 runs and scored 104, and stole 11 bags.
Hot prospect outfielder David Dahl got his first taste of the big leagues over 63 games following a late July promotion. The 22-year old hit for a .315/.359/.500 slash with seven homers, 24 RBI, and 42 runs in just 237 plate appearances.
ARENADO THE ROCKIES PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Even with all those fine Coors-inflated numbers, third baseman Nolan Arenado stood out this season. He hit for a .294/.362/.570 slash line with 41 home runs, 35 doubles, 133 RBI, and 116 runs scored.
Arenado was selected to his second consecutive NL All-Star team in just his fourth season. He also won a second straight NL Silver Slugger Award, and was honored with his fourth consecutive Gold Glove Award at the hot corner, becoming the first player to win the honors in each of his first four seasons.
“Yeah, it’s an amazing thing,” Arenado said per Patrick Saunders at The Denver Post. “I have worked really hard at my defense. This is something I take a lot of pride in that. I have to thank God that I have been able to stay healthy, for the most part. It’s a good feeling that your hard work pays off.”
Finishing fifth in the National League Most Valuable Player Award voting, Arenado is clearly now among the very best players in the game at just 25 years of age. And in the 2016 season, Nolan Arenado was clearly the Colorado Rockies Player of the Year.