The Rockies road offense is brutal. The numbers don’t lie. Since 2000 they have never finished with a team OPS above the league average…on the road. Most years they haven’t been close. More than once they’ve ranked dead last in baseball.
There are three good pitcher’s parks in their division and that hasn’t helped their road woe’s, but the fact remains that they have been extremely poor on the road….and for a very long time. Even in 2007/2009 they were below average on the road.
It makes me wonder if the very same fastball movement that makes guys like Vinny Castilla or Carlos Gonzalez so deadly at altitude works against the Rockies players on the whole. Ian Stewart has a 36.7% career road k% and a 27.5 career home k%, Fowler has a 28.9% Road k% and a 23% home K% and Iannetta has a 25% K% at home to a 29% K% on the road. I don’t know that it is the root cause but it seems like having to adjust to two different movement patterns week after week might screw up any player.
as a team they have a 9.5BB% and a 19.5K% and on the Road a 8.4BB% and a 23.4k% not night and day, but then again you would expect the baseballs moving differently would effect K% negatively in both home and Road games
As a Rockies’ fan (and simulation game keeper-league owner of all three players), I appreciate your effort to figure out what’s up with all the strikeouts for Fowler, Iannetta and Stewart. For 2011, each of these players is striking out at their highest single-season K-rates (except Stewart who was slightly higher during his 46 PA cup of coffee at age 22).
Fowler is striking out at a rate 17% above his previous career high K-rate in 2009. And though coaching may not be the issue, rumor has it Fowler was instructed at some time between the October 2010 and April 2011 to extend his swing in an attempt to generate more power. The results: his lowest ISO (.110); his lowest contact rate for pitches in the strike zone; and highest swing & miss rate. Now, since that purported adjustment backfired, Fowler is back at Triple-A and being told to get his swing from last summer back. No wonder he’s off to a 3 for 33 start at Colorado Springs. He’ll be much better once he gets that Summer of 2010 swing back.
Iannetta’s 2011 K-rate is almost 20% higher than 2010. Compared to last year, his plate discipline peripherals show he’s swinging less often and making less contact when he does swing. That said, his K-rate was highest (40%) in March/April while only slightly above his overall 2010 K-rate (25.5%) during May/June 2011. I think this is probably what we can expect from Iannetta with the power reward and a high OBP.
As for Stewart, he’s a high K-rate guy that was injured during Spring Training and then again as he was trying to get started during the regular season. So he really hasn’t been healthy or practiced enough to succeed at the ML-level during 2011. Since Stewart is currently hitting around .300 with a .650+ SLG and his K-rate is the same as his ML career rate, I think he also falls into the “this is probably what we can expect with the power reward” category.
Matt Holliday, Todd Helton and Troy Tulowitzki struggled in those same splits in their first years at altitude even good to excellent veteran hitters like Larry Walker or Jeff Cirillo had massive Home/Road splits in their first year in Colorado
It’s most likely an organizational issue. You don’t see too many guys in the majors battling with two strikes anymore, especially players on the Rockies. Their coaching staff throughout the minors probably isn’t emphasizing how to hit with two strikes.
. . . Thus, leaving it up to Carney Lansford to teach everyone how to how to furrow your stache and hunker down in the name of batting average. If anyone can do it, it’s Carney freaking Lansford, but that is a lot to ask of one man.
With Fowler they asked if he would consider abndoningh switch-hitting. Batting left his wOBA is .321 and batting right it is .349. Of course he might hit righties poorly as a righthanded hitter as well.
In any event, his k rate is 28.4% batting left and 21.7% batting right. So more an issue from the lft side.
Coors rewards contact more than any other park. As a result, Colorado players will have a greater tendency to seek contact, and the organization will have a tendency to draft guys who are aggressive. I doubt we will ever see anyone who leads the league in walks playing at Coors field. Aggressiveness frequently leads to swinging strikes fewer walks, but more contact.
SD, LAD, SF are all parks where aggressiveness is less rewarded and patience is more rewarded. It is no mystery that aggressive hitters perform worse in those parks.
Since Colorado is an extreme park for rewarding aggressive contact, it is common sense that aggressive hitters should perform worse away from Coors. Add in the fact that some of the parks that least reward aggression are key road teams for Colorado and you have your recipe for extremely low road hitting.
I have often wondered if Colorado would not benefit from home/road platoon squads.
Comment by kick me in the GO NATS — June 21, 2011 @ 6:16 pm
Helton led the league in walks -non Bonds division – in 2004
I think I had heard the Rockies drafted Vick, but forgotten. However, I did remember that other trivia fact the QB thing brought up – the Rockies feature two left-handed former Manning brother backups.
Not a bad theory, as games at Coors do tend to have higher BABIP rates and lower K rates. However, the players the Rockies have had don’t really match your profile. Helton has had excellent walk rates. Iannetta and Fowler, too, and are not exactly what one would call “aggressive” hitters. Ian Stewart is often cited for not being aggressive enough and sees a lot of pitches. Seth Smith’s walk rates are not exceptional but he, too sees a lot of pitches per PA (3.98 for his career).
There is nothing wrong with the organization. So there happens to be 3 guys on the same team that strike out too much and get sent down, and you think that something is wrong with the coaching staff or the scouts for drafting them? It’s coincidence, and nothing more.
Fowler’s swing is too long, Stewart has horrible discipline and gets behind in the count too often, and Iannetta is your typical high K, high BB guy with decent power.
If anything, I would blame the altitude. As another poster pointed out earlier, even K and BB splits are there for most Rockies players, and have been ever since Coors Field has been their home.
Actually he graduated HS in December and played his freshman year of college baseball for what should have been his senior year of HS baseball. He then redshirted a year in football so he was drafted after his junior year of baseball, but his redshirt freshman year of football. He ended up playing 1 more year of college football after signing with Colorado.
I don’t think Holliday was a COLLEGE quarterback, although he was a great High School quarterback.
Otherwise a good article, although I think it’s a reach to say there’s something going on here. The Rockies have 3 recent prospects with strikeout issues only becuase they HAVE so many recent prospects still in the organization – they also have plenty of guys WITHOUT major strikeout issues who came up close to the same time as these 3 in the minors – Tulowitzki, Herrera, Smith, Spillbourghs, Nelson, Blackmon, Young, etc.
What about the fact that all these guys are decent to above average at taking a walk. As are lots of Colorado players. It seems more likely to me that the organization brings this on itself by teaching patience and then not living with the price in batting average and boon in OBP taking pitches results in. It appears that they are teaching guys to take walks in order to make the majors and then sending them down for taking too many walks and not swinging enough.
Fun Fact you wouldn’t know from listening to all the Denver echo-chamber chanting about what a “failure” Ian Stewart has been:
Ian Stewart is the leading career home run hitter on the Colorado Rockies’ 40-man roster per 600 major league at bats, with roughly 28.
That was higher than either Tulo or CarGo when I ran the numbers around the time of this post above. The batting average hasn’t come around, and the strikeouts are still not ideal, but at what point do you have to just stick your organization’s most prolific home run hitter into the lineup and let the @$%#$%! kid play? Could the Rockies’ “braintrust” possibly think of anything more to sabotage this guy’s career? They’ve tried yanking him in and out of the lineup everytime he goes 0-for-4. They’ve jerked him around the field among 3 or 4 positions. They’ve tried humiliating him in the press. I’m sure Tracy and O’Dowd have a few more creative ways up their sleeve of squandering young talent, and if Stewart is unfortunate enough to stick around longer in Denver, he’ll experience them. I used to think Sabean was the dumbest GM in the NL West, but O’Dowd sure gives him a run for his money.