Saunders: Rockies’ 2021 awards, from most valuable to most perplexing


Another losing season is in the books for the Rockies, although their 74-87 record wasn’t nearly as dire as many predicted.

Kyle Newman, my esteemed colleague, said that the Rockies would finish 62-100, which would have been the first 100-loss season in franchise history.

Mr. Newman was not alone in his pessimism. PECOTA (Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm), the projection system of Baseball Prospectus, predicted that the Rockies would finish 60.3-101.7.

I said that the Rockies would go 72-90, so I wasn’t too far off, although my other prognostications — a Padres vs. Yankees World Series, Trevor Story trade, Charlie Blackmon hitting .318, for example — missed by a mile.

But that was then, this is now. Time to hand out the awards for the Rockies’ 2021 season:

MVR: The most valuable Rockie was manager Bud Black. Despite the loss of Nolan Arenado and Scott Oberg, subpar seasons from Story and Blackmon, a terrible start to the schedule, and an imploding bullpen, Black prevented the team from totally collapsing. He never lost his composure or his patience and proved himself as a teacher.

MVPP: The most valuable position player, all things considered, was Ryan McMahon. First baseman C.J. Cron, who led the team with 28 home runs and a .905 OPS, was a close second.

McMahon deserves consideration for his Gold Glove defense at third base (he was also excellent at second), plus he hit 23 homers. However, after his hot start (16 homers through June) his final OPS of .779 OPS was disappointing. But his strikeout rate dropped from 34.2% last season to 24.7%. I believe McMahon’s best is yet to come.

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MVP: In mid-July, first-time all-star German Marquez was a no-brainer as Colorado’s most valuable pitcher. But the right-hander’s 6.57 ERA over his last 10 starts was ugly and concerning.

So it came down to lefty Kyle Freeland vs. right-hander Antonio Senzatela, who just signed a five-year, $50.5 million deal. It’s close, but I would go with the gritty Freeland, who came back from a bad shoulder injury in spring training and a tough early stretch to become Colorado’s most-dependable starter. If I had to pick one Rockies starter to pitch a must-win game, I would take Freeland.

MVR: Jordan Sheffield might get the nod as the most valuable reliever, but he only pitched 29 1/3 innings. And rookie lefty Lucas Gilbreath (3.38 ERA in 42 2/3 innings) emerged as a dependable arm in the second half of the season.

But my vote goes to journeyman right-hander Jhoulys Chacin (4.34 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, .222 average against), who kept Colorado in a lot of games in mostly high-leverage innings.

MIP: My most improved player award came down to a choice between second baseman Brendan Rodgers and catcher Elias Diaz. My first impulse was to go with Rodgers, who came on strong in the second half to lead the team with a .284 average and hit 15 home runs (12 on the road).

But I’m going with Diaz because I honestly never thought he was as good as …read more

Source:: The Denver Post – Sports


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