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Colorado Rockies 2019 Fantasy Projections – Prime for a Rocky Mountain High
Colorado made back-to-back appearances in the NL playoffs for the first time in their franchise history. Oddly enough, known for being an offensively focused team because of where they play half their season schedule, the Rockies set new lows in some perplexing offensive stats.
With a couple of their budding young stars in contract years, Colorado hopes to turnaround some of these stats and return for an even deeper playoff run. Here's a look back at last season, plus a rundown of how Colorado stacks up for fantasy purposes heading into 2019.
Colorado Rockies 2018 Recap
Colorado fans had extra post season excitement in 2018. After finishing August with sixth losses in their last eleven games against non-playoff teams, the Rockies took off. They won 19 games, some more timely than others. They took three out of four against Arizona at home, then proceeded to sweep the Diamondbacks three-straight in Arizona.
Those six victories would prove the most pivotal of their season. They helped to push Colorado up in the wildcard and division title chase, and essentially eliminate their division rival. Six other September games proved equally critical. Those six were against fellow NL West foe Los Angeles.
The Rockies weren't as successful against the Dodgers, losing five out of the six September meetings. This proved important because they ended up tied for the division on the final day. LA beat Colorado to win the division, sending the Rockies into a winner-take-all wildcard against the Cubs.
These extra two games threw the Rockies' pitching rotation out of line, but that didn't end up being the biggest problem. What happened was, Colorado scored four runs in the two games against the Dodgers and Cubs, albeit winning in Wrigley 2 to 1.
The inconsistency on offense that had plagued them all season doomed them in the NLDS against the Milwaukee Brewers. Colorado scored a grade-total of two runs in three games, getting swept by the Brewers.
2019 Fantasy Pitchers Projections – The Best of the Rocky Mountain Pitchers
Because of a few laws of physics, there will always be enough run production to make the Rockie batting order fantasy-worthy. Now, pitchers are another story. Applying these same laws of physics used for batters, you have to take Colorado pitchers with a grain of salt, that is until last season.
While they'll be in line to pitch roughly half their starts away from Colorado, there will always be that ominous threat of a bad start or two pitching at their home park. However, two of the Rockies prized-prospects elevated their game somewhat sooner than expected, and seemed to deal well with the Mile High air.
At 25 years of age, Kyle Freeland rocketed to the top of the Colorado rotation in his second major league season. He was so good, Freeland finished fourth in a field of superstar NL pitchers for the Cy Young award.
He finished over 200-innings in his second season, posting a fair number of strikeouts. His WHIP went down, but his home runs allowed, remained consistent. That is an important stat for any pitcher who throws roughly half their starts in Colorado. Heading into his third full season as a pro, Freeland is easily a top-10 projected starter for fantasy lineups.
Behind Freeland in the Rockie rotation is another young star. German Márquez is one year younger than Freeland, but also heading into his third full season. Márquez logged a half-dozen fewer innings than his fellow Rockie hurler, but struck out nearly 60 more hitters. He displayed a dominating fastball at times, with solid control.
His WHIP is a little less appealing, an important stat pitching for the Rockies. Márquez also had a slight tendency to get burned by the long ball, so his ability to keep the ball in the park should be watched. His ERA dropped from 2017, so he appears to be gaining better mastery over keeping runners from scoring.
There are some who feel the third spot in the Colorado rotation is manned by their actual best pitcher. Jon Gray is only two years older than Freeland, and has similar strike out numbers as Márquez. He may be the Rockies best power pitcher, a plus throwing for Colorado.
Tyler Anderson has some back-of-the-rotation appeal for fantasy leagues. At 29, Anderson is actually the old man on the Rockies' pitching staff. He had an outstanding WHIP in 2018, which was critical in limiting the damage of the 30 home runs he got tagged with.
At the back of the Rockie rotation is another youngster. Antonio Senzatela is only 24, but he may have as much talent as any of his four teammates. Senzatela has a better pedigree, carrying a sub-3.00 ERA up from his six years in the minor leagues.
He doesn't have the strikeout prowess of Márquez or Gray, but he hits spots with uncanny consistency. Senzatela kept the ball inside the fences better than any of the Rockie starters, and he will benefit from facing the opposition's number five pitcher in most of his 2019 starts.
2019 Fantasy Hitter Projections – The Best Bats in Denver
When you play in the mile high air of Denver, Colorado, you can expect a lot of balls to leave the ballpark. That has been the historic trend at Coors Field. That trend continued in 2018, with the Rockies' home field being ranked second in the runs-per-game category, and home runs hit.
Problem with that statistical metric is that the largest percentage of home runs hit at Coors Field weren't always by Colorado players. Eight Rockie hitters slugged double-digit long balls, led by Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story with 38 and 37 respectfully. Charlie Blackmon fell one home run shy of 30, and Ian Desmond left the yard 22 times.
What limited the Rockie bats fantasy wise was that no one hit over .300. That is most uncharacteristic of Blackmon, a career .302 hitter, who most recently has been a challenger for the National League batting title.
Nolan Arenado is the first focal point of the Rockie batting order. He is an authentic superstar with the potential to hit as many as 40 home runs matched with 40 doubles. Hitting cleanup in the Colorado order gives him 120-plus RBI potential every season.
He is a top-five MVP candidate now three-years running as well. Arenado is blocked with three outstanding fantasy third basemen, but the only limitation is he is only 3B eligibility. There isn't a fantasy ranking list that has Arenado anywhere above the sixth or seventh best fantasy bat in baseball.
After Arenado, you don't lose much with the next highest ranked Colorado Rockie bat. Trevor Story has been a rising star since he was drafted. He is no longer considered rising, because he has arrived.
Similar to Arenado, Story is bumped two spots on some fantasy rankings because of two shortstops with multi-position eligibility. He also plays the same position as Frankie Lindor and Trea Turner. Story's stock must be considered equally as fantasy relevant because he hits 81 games at Coors Field.
Like Arenado, Story is a must-own. Some fantasy gurus like the idea of a Story and Arenado stack to gain double benefit of the Rocky Mountain effect. Early lineup projections have Story hitting after Arenado in the order, batting in the fifth spot. Ian Desmond currently is slated to hit second.
Desmond is a good hitter, but has shown as an unflattering tendency to lose focus. When he does, his strikeouts increase. This would prove rather unproductive out of the number two spot in the order. If he does falter, look for manager Bud Black to shift his order around.
One interesting addition to the Rockies may make that shift happen sooner than later. Colorado felt their team batting average was too low to be playing in a run-happy ballpark. They made a huge addition to alter their offense, adding Daniel Murphy to play first base.
Murphy always has fantasy worth, and he may jump up the fantasy rankings playing in Colorado with a strong lineup around him. He is also a strong clubhouse presence, so look for him to boost locker room morale during dry periods this season.
The last hitter to talk about is actually the first hitter into the box for the Rockies. Charlie Blackmon is as good a baseball hitter as there is in the game. While Blackmon's average dropped slightly in 2018, his OPS was actually the third best in his career.
He still inched close to 30 home runs, falling one short. The biggest drop off in his fantasy production was in the RBI department. Even at age 32, he is still good for roughly a dozen stolen bases.
However, Blackmon's 70 RBIs may have been more indicative of Colorado's inability to consistently get the bottom of the order on base, as it was in a wane in his productivity. Target Blackmon in all fantasy formats, and don't be surprised if he has a huge statistical rebound in 2019
Fantasy Rank for the Colorado Rockies
When you play baseball in the light air of Colorado, you have to figure the baseball is going to travel. Since balls carry in Colorado better than anywhere else in Major League Baseball, it's logical to assume a lot of runs are going to cross the dish. For the fantasy prospects of Rockie hitters, you have to hope most of the runs crossing the plate are Colorado players.
The Bottom Line for the Colorado Rockies
Colorado has built themselves a pitching staff of young, budding superstars. They have a productive batting order, built to produce runs. Their pitchers must continue to improve and if their bats produce up to expectations, the Rockies will push the 90-win mark again. The problem will be their rivals the LA Dodgers.
LA still has better pitching, and they seem to have Colorado's number in big games. To jump LA and take over the NL West top spot, Colorado will need to be hitting on all cylinders more often than not. If they continue to do what they do well, the Dodgers and the rest of the National League better keep pace.