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The Dyansty Guru’s Triple Play: Colorado Rockies!

AN INTRODUCTION

Welcome to The Dynasty Guru’s Triple Play! This is a brand-new series where three very cool dynasty baseball nerds- Adam Lawler, Patrick Magnus and Keaton O. DeRocher- bring to you a succinct analysis of a pitcher, a hitter and a prospect from each organization. We’ll be running this regularly, leading up to and through Opening Day!

Each team will be covered in alphabetical order. This article we’re covering the Colorado Rockies. While we here at The Dynasty Guru are primarily baseball obsessed, we’ll also be touching on some music we’ve enjoyed from each team’s home state. Enjoy, and leave us your question and comments below!

Wade Davis, Age: 32, RP

Analysis by: Keaton O. DeRocher

Dismayed Davis

Originally drafted by the Tampa Bay then-Devil Rays in 2004, there was a time when Wade Davis was a starter. He was… bad at it.  Davis compiled a 4.22 earned run average, a 5.89 strikeout-per-nine rate, a 3.20 walks-per-nine rate, and a 1.39 WHIP as a starter (2009-2011). The next year, and Davis’ last with the Rays, he was moved to the ‘pen and gave us a glimpse of what was to come: a 2.43 ERA, 11.13 K/9, and a WHIP of 1.09. Davis was then moved to Kansas City, and the Royals thought, “let’s give him another shot at starting.” Davis thanked them by having the worst season of his career- a brutal 5.32 ERA and a 1.68 WHIP pushed him right back into the bullpen. Some guys just thrive in a particular role and it was clear Davis’ role was in the ‘pen. Just take a look at the side by side of his stats as a starter and reliever.

 

As A Starter As A Reliever
Year Team ERA WHIP BB/9 K/9 LOB% Year Team ERA WHIP BB/9 K/9 LOB%
2009 TB 3.72 1.27 3.22 8.92 62.5% 2012 TB 2.43 1.09 3.71 11.13 81.4%
2010 TB 4.07 1.35 3.32 6.05 78.1% 2014 KC 1.00 0.85 2.88 13.63 87.5%
2011 TB 4.45 1.38 3.08 5.14 72.1% 2015 KC 0.94 0.79 2.67 10.43 92.2%
2013 KC 5.32 1.68 3.86 7.58 67.6% 2016 KC 1.87 1.13 3.32 9.76 82.7%
2017 CHC 2.30 1.14 4.30 12.12 87.7%

Upgrade Davis

As a reliever, Davis has put things together and solidified himself as one of the best closers in the game. Last year his contact chart looked very impressive, limiting opponents to weak contact on 14/160 (8.8%) of batted balls.

71.3% of all of the batted ball outcomes for Wade Davis were positive; better than Felipe Rivero (71.0%), Kenley Jansen (70.5%), Aroldis Chapman (70.4%), Craig Kimbrel (69.2%) and Roberto Osuna (68.1%).

Paid Davis

As a free agent this offseason (and keeping to his plan of supplanting Greg Holland at closer), Davis signed a three-year, $52 million deal with the Rockies. My first reaction was:

There’s always that initial reaction whenever a pitcher goes to Coors, but the fact that Davis is following in Holland’s footsteps for the second time got me thinking: Can we examine Holland’s tenure in Colorado in order to predict how Davis might perform? Both players are power pitchers, and power pitchers tend to struggle less in Coors. So I wanted to dig into the contact Holland gave up and compare that to the type of contact he was giving up before he signed with Colorado:

Disclaimer with this comparison: because of when Statcast data was available, I couldn’t get Holland’s healthy 2014, and had to pull 2015. As we know, that was the season in which Holland was replaced by Davis and had Tommy John surgery. Hence, it’s tough to compare those seasons directly when trying to predict what Davis might do. But we can compare their 2017 seasons and see where they were different.

Contact Type Holland 2017 Davis 2017
Barrels 3.1% 2.5%
Solid Contact 4.1% 3.1%
Flares & Burners 23.5% 23.1%
Topped 28.6% 29.4%
Hit Under 32.7% 33.1%
Weak Contact 8.2% 8.8%

Differences of +0.6% in Barrels and +1.0% in Solid contact don’t scare me away from Davis in Coors.

The other piece of the puzzle is the strikeouts. Holland’s whiff rate before Coors was 8.09% on his fastballs and 22.56% on his breaking balls. Pitching in Colorado last year increased his fastball whiff rate to 9.05% and dropped his breaking ball whiff rate to 22.56%. That change is likely what lead to increased contact %. Seeing that Holland didn’t actually struggle as much as we think pitchers do in Coors, and that Davis has better overall stuff than Holland, I would expect Davis to have similar low-level regression. Davis’ PECOTA projections would play anywhere, let alone in Coors: a 2.99 ERA, a 10.6 K/9, a 3.8 BB/9 and a 1.26 WHIP. Adding in the fact he’ll be getting saves for a playoff contender tells me he’s still a top-ten closer, even with the Colorado Factor.

Keaton’s Artist Selection

The Lumineers – The Lumineers have a pretty cool sound, mixing in a mandolin and a cello into their tunes. I like a ton of their songs and you’ve probably heard at least one of one but they are worth checking out for more than just their popular tunes.

Trevor Story, Age: 25, SS

Analysis by: Patrick Magnus

Prologue

Trevor Story had an unbelievable rookie season; one might even say it was the stuff of fiction. He was becoming legendary, ripping up the history books as he smashed home runs at a historic pace. On August 2nd, his 27 home runs and 72 runs batted in were leading the National Leauge rookie class, while batting .272. Tragically, his historic season ended when Story tore a ligament in his left thumb, requiring season-ending surgery.

Trevor Origin Story

Where did this statistical lunatic come from? Story was the Rockies’ first-round pick in 2011 and displayed his skills early on. Let’s find the structure of this story.

Year | Level BB% K% ISO AVG
2012 | Single-A 10.9% 22.1% .229 .277
2014 | Double-A 11.8% 34.6% .180 .200
2015  | Triple-A 5.8% 24.7% .227 .277
2016 |  MLB 8.4% 31.1% .296 .272
2017 |  MLB 8.8% 34.4% .219 .239

There’s no mistaking who Trevor Story is. He loves to swing the bat, and when he does he can smash the living hell out of a baseball. Story is a patient hitter, who has had success hitting for average despite his free-swinging tendencies. That didn’t last in the majors, as his average dropped significantly in his sophomore campaign. Can he get it back?

Is This Story a Tragedy?

Story’s antagonist is himself. His internal conflict resides in his approach at the plate. He makes up for his terrible, awful, no-good, very bad strikeout rate with power and a very sexy walk rate. The walk rate and strikeout rates are very similar, so why the dip in average? While certainly not the whole story, here’s a large part of it (“extraordinary” graph created by me, with tools provided by Fangraphs).

Nifty X, huh? He received less luck from the BABIP Gods and struck out more. That’s a trend for a crash in average, which is exactly what happened.

One thing we’ve established about our protagonist is that he is patient, but boy does enjoy swinging the bat as well. He had a higher swing-rate, higher swinging-strike rate, and made less contact on pitches outside of the zone. Pitchers also made an adjustment and threw him many more first-pitch strikes (probably because they know he’ll take the pitch most of the time).

A Never Ending or Short Story?

Story has been consistently himself since being drafted. The average is going to fluctuate due to his approach and pitchers making adjustments. The good news is that he plays in a forgiving ballpark that is perfect for his profile. Coors will bump that BABIP and average up some years, and his love of hitting the ball in the air (almost 50% FB rate 16-17) means a lot of those balls will continue to leave the park.

However, he is undoubtedly tied to Coors. The only reason he remains fantasy useful is Colorado; Story hit just .227/.298/.435 on the road, compared to .279/.346/.575 at home. Those of you in daily leagues should take note, and maybe keep a bench plug-and-play player for Story’s away games. Those in weekly leagues will need to grin and bear it. Story’s approach makes him a tremendously risky asset, capable of imploding quickly. Still, as long as he’s hitting in Colorado, the story continues.  

Patrick’s Artist Selection

During my Trevor Story research and writing, I listened to Earth, Wind & Fire’s self-titled album on repeat. You should put it on right now. Shut up, they recorded an album in Colorado. It counts.

Riley Pint, Age: 20, SP

Analysis by: Adam Lawler

Hello everyone, and welcome to the Third Annual Riley Pint…We Like Him, Right? Take your seats, and let’s review the previous year’s minutes before going into new business.

20 Imperial Fluid Ounces, 16 US Fluid Ounces

Two years ago, Riley Pint was drafted out of high school as a doe-eyed 18-year-old and promptly dropped into the Pioneer League.  By the time his 37-inning stint ended, people were freaking out over his underwhelming performance (5.5 xFIP, 8.76 K/9).  You and I, bathed in the holy waters of “stay patient and believe true talent wins out,” merely chuckled at the reactionaries.  He pitched 37 innings. He was 18, which is extremely young considering the average age in the PL is 21.  Moreover, the Pioneer League makes Coors Field look like the Polo Grounds. Seriously, here is the link for the 2016 Pioneer League pitching leaders. Take a look; it’s laughable.

Did he walk a lot of batters? He did. However, it might behoove you to do some box score scouting and see if there were any bright spots (spoiler: yes, there are several) and whether a couple bad starts blinded people to the overall body (another spoiler: yes, they did). Regardless, his stuff still played up.  His fastball and two different types of curveballs are amazing.  They fooled the pants off the Pioneer league hitters, sporting a 20.7% strikeout rate.

Raise A Class, Pour One Out

Despite the rocky start, organizational leaders were ready to put Pint on an aggressive assignment to the South Atlantic League.  After all, you can’t teach 102 MPH. He again struggled mightily with command and control as his strikeout-to-walk rate declined to 4.6%. You can chalk this up to more advanced bats that are able to lay off of the junk.  It’s important to reiterate – again – that Pint was still only 19 years old during his first run in the Sally league.  Most players in the league were 22.  That said, a declining strikeout rate (without a comparable decline in walks) and another 5+ ERA may make even the moderately conservative dynasty player shudder. But fear not, and allow me to give you some hope.

First, let’s acknowledge some positives about the 2017 campaign.  He started 22 games, pitched 93 innings, and markedly decreased his HR/9 and H/9. Now, let’s be a little creative when looking at Pint’s box score. During the last game of the season, Pint gave up 9 (!) earned runs without recording an out.  This absolutely sunk his otherwise solid progress.  If we yank that start out of his season, Pint has a 4.55 ERA and limited righties to a .240/.362/.705 slash line. That’s darn good, even if his work against lefties was not (.294/.397/.747). On that point: even though he was probably BABIP’ed to death by southpaws (.382), he’s going to continue to suffer until he develops a changeup.

Accepting Donations Now

If someone is selling Pint, I would look to buy in. He’s been a child in a man’s league but has the underlying numbers to demonstrate improvement.  Yes, the command and control have to develop. I know that, you know that, the Rockies organization knows that. But after pouring over Pint through YouTube videos by scouts it’s pretty clear that someone in the organization needs to work with him to simplify his motion. He raises his leg entirely too high out of the stretch and that allows for a cross-body release at times.  Sure, an adjustment on his leg raise might drop a tick or two off his MPH, but if anyone can afford a loss in velocity it’s this guy. Pitchers do this all the time, and if he’s an adjustment away from dropping his BB/9 from 5.65 to 4.1, all of a sudden you’re cooking with gas. The worst case scenario is that he doesn’t improve and we see the next Mike Foltynewicz. The best case scenario is that he pulls it together and we have a healthy James Paxton realized.

Adam’s Artist Selection

This might be cheating, but Neutral Milk Hotel relocated to Denver to create two of the more memorable albums of my formative years. In 1996 they released On Avery Island, displaying their burgeoning talents on tracks Naomi, Marching Theme, and Someone Is Waiting. Then, in 1998 everything came together.  The album – from start to finish – is phenomenal.  My personal favorite is Holland, 1945. However, you’re not wrong to pick literally any other track.

AUTHORS’ PLUGS!

Follow us on Twitter for baseball, jokes, Keaton’s trolling, and other very cool opinions!

Adam Lawler: @thestatcastera
Keaton O. DeRocher: @TheSpokenKeats
Patrick Magnus: @TheGreenMagnus

 

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Previously Covered Teams

 

 

The Author

Patrick Magnus

Patrick Magnus

Baseball Dad, husband, TDG podcast talking head, educator, Vermonter, Shenzhener, and completely baseball obsessed.
Living, working, and writing in Shenzhen, China. Hear my thoughts on the TDG Podcast, and follow me on Twitter @TheGreenMagnus

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