TDG’S TRIPLE PLAY: COLORADO ROCKIES!
The Triple Play is back for a third season! This regular feature is broken down by staff writers Bob Osgood and Paul Monte and a rotating panel of third writers. If you’re new to the Triple Play, this series breaks down an arm, a bat, and a prospect within each organization for your reading pleasure!
Follow Bob (@BobOsgood15) and Paul (@3cardmonte13) on twitter and read Tyler Burgess’s analysis here at the site!
Pitcher: German Marquez, Age: 25, Position: SP
Analysis by: Tyler Burgess
Off The Marq?
It’s been (almost) three full seasons of ol’ Germ. Is he a frontline starter? A back of the rotation guy? Somewhere in between?
Now 25 years old, we have just shy of 300 innings of data to pull from that’s not sourced from Coors field. Away, German looks pretty good: 8.68 K/9, 2.30 BB/9, 1.15 WHIP, 3.86 FIP, 3.72 ERA, and 1.18 HR/9. He has the looks of a very strong number 2 starter for some teams and a likely ace for many. He’s not elite, but he’s a guy any team would welcome with open arms to bolster the top of their rotation. He’s consistently posted decent strikeout numbers and doesn’t walk too many guys. He’s got a strong mix of pitches and throws some “hot cheese,” as Dennis Eckersley would say.
Ah, but what about Coors-German? His 255 innings at home tell the tale of a slightly different pitcher. Rocky Mountain Marquez looks like this: 9.88 K/9, 2.51 BB/9, 1.41 WHIP, 4.02 FIP, 5.01 ERA, and 1.45 HR/9. A shift in a few key peripherals, and now we’re looking at a mid-to-rear of the rotation guy. The K/BB numbers are strong, but the rest of the stat sheet is a tough pill to swallow.
First to Wurst (Not Quite)
In retrospect, 2018 is starting to feel like the higher end of his potential (as long as he’s on the Rockies). Last season, he was certainly the victim of some misfortune. His HR/FB numbers jumped by nearly 5% to over 20% for the first time in his career. He’s certainly due for some regression here, but when you’re pitching half your games at Coors Field, there’s only so much positive regression that can occur. Marquez was hit with a .388 BABIP at home last year, which screams outlier. However, as some of you might guess, the Rockies’ home park is worst in the league for BABIP for pitchers (FanGraphs).
While 2019 wasn’t all bad for our pal German, it also didn’t give us as much hope as we had for him last offseason. He reduced his walk rate, but also saw a decline in strikeouts. He started to throw his four-seam fastball less and almost doubled his sinker utilization. This may be a pattern that continues as he continues to learn how to pitch within the confines of Coors Field.
Taking this route may make his home production more palatable, but I don’t think will return enough value (and provide enough confidence) to make him a useful asset during his home starts.
Danke for the Good Times
So, what’s the future look like for German Marquez? It’s impossible to say how this season will play out, but we can still speculate! Marquez has shown that he has a ways to go to sort out how to succeed at home. As long as he’s on the Rockies, you’re going to risk having a starting pitcher on your roster that can only be relied on for less than 100 innings a year. He’s a complimentary piece to a larger puzzle and can’t be the cornerstone of your staff.
It’s been a fun ride getting hyped about a younger German, but at this point, it seems he’s settling into what we’ve come to expect of a pitcher on the Rockies. Under contract through at least 2023, he’s as productive of a starting pitcher the team could hope for, so I doubt they’d move him by the time his contract is up. This ties his near-term dynasty value to his home field disadvantage. I hope to see him prove me wrong, but I think 2018 may have been a peak productivity year for Marquez on his current team.
Hitter: David Dahl, Age: 26, Position: OF
Analysis by: Paul Monte
We all start somewhere. This may be your first season in a dynasty league, and you are experiencing equal parts exhilaration and fear with every pick. I miss those days; I still get small doses of those feelings, but I somehow went from just two teams my first year of dynasty fantasy to more than I want to admit. 2014 was my first year in dynasty. I had played fantasy for 20 years, but never a dynasty league. I dove in headfirst, read everything I could, and focused on prospects because I had very little knowledge in that department. One of the sites I found when starting was this one right here, The Dynasty Guru. Byron Buxton was the consensus #1, there were a lot of great names on the list in 2014, but there was one guy that I ended up on my roster in both my leagues, David Dahl.
Drafted 10th overall in 2012 out of Oak Mountain High School in Birmingham, Alabama, Dahl’s debut was amazing. He was the MVP of the Pioneer (Rookie-level) league in his professional debut. 2013 did not go as planned, and it was a glimpse of what would come for the next seven years of his career. A torn hamstring ended his 2013 after just 10 games, which caused him to drop down most prospect lists. 2014 was a bounce-back year, earning a promotion to High-A while hitting .299 with 14 home runs and 21 steals. The 5-tool label he was given was beginning to come true. 2015 ended with a collision in the outfield and a ruptured spleen. He had it removed instead of repaired and returned to finish the season. His major league debut was just after the All-Star Break in 2016 and as 2017 opened, he was expected to be a starting outfield. He fractured a rib and never played a game in 2017. 77 games in 2018 and 100 games in 2019 along with multiple IL stats have led us into 2020.
Keep your eye on the Dahl
Healthy for spring training, Dahl was rumored to be the leadoff hitter for the 2020 version of the Rockies. I was excited about this news because one of the keys to Dahl becoming what he was expected to be as a prospect was the return of his speed. With just 14 career steals in 240 MLB games, it did not seem like the SB’s were ever coming. The average was good at home, as was the pop, but it was nowhere near the top 10 OF territory. The leadoff spot would, in theory, lead to more runs and more opportunities to steal.
An All-Star in 2019, 2020 was the year that owners who had held on to him through all the injuries were going to be rewarded. Still, just 26-years-old and playing half of his games in Coors, I believe we have yet to see the best of Dahl. Injuries will lower his cost, and if you are not scared of the risk, the upside is still immense. Maybe not what I thought it would be 6 years ago when I drafted him in my first start-up draft, but it’s still very high.
Prospect: Brendan Rodgers, Age: 23, Position: 2B/SS/3B, Level: MLB with Rookie Status
Analysis by: Bob Osgood
Brendan Rodgers was the third pick in the 2015 MLB draft and has hovered around the top prospect in the Colorado Rockies system ever since. The #1 prospect on a franchise whose hitters receive a huge boost in fantasy circles by simply playing 81 games in a stadium that is a mile high has kept Rodgers on the radar from day one. Add in the valuable shortstop position, and you have a prospect who reached the top 10 to 15 prospects for Baseball America, MLB.com, and Baseball Prospectus, among many others.
I may eventually regret this post, especially as someone who values a hit tool more than anything else in a prospect but things have been rocky (no pun intended) over the past few years, in some respect with Rodgers, but more so with the Rockies organization in general.
At Fangraphs, and by most accounts, Rodgers has hit and power tools as 50 to 60 for current and future, respectively. Known for being a free swinger, he has played Shortstop at the lower levels of the minors, but the expectation is that Trevor Story is the short-term and long-term plan there, moving Rodgers to second or third base. Prospects Live believes Rodgers has a better feel for third base and, with an unhappy Nolan Arenado in year two of a long-term deal, if he does get moved to somewhere like St. Louis, it could be Brendan Rodgers’s spot in the future. In the minors, Rodgers showed some power ranging from 12 to 19 home runs per season from 2016-2018 between three levels of single-A and double-A. A huge 37-game start at triple-A in 2019, with a .350/.412/.622 slash line and a 147 wRC+, warranted a call-up in May.
Rodgers had surgery on a torn labrum on his right shoulder, his season-ending in late-June after 81 times at the plate. It is certainly unfair to hold an initial appearance against a prospect, and as is the case with Carter Kieboom in Washington, Rodgers deserves plenty of time to prove himself. It’s worth noting, however, that Rodgers had a .224/.272/.250 slash line with a total of two extra-base hits in his two-month stint with Colorado. From a Statcast perspective, he barreled two balls and had an expected batting average of .165. Although he hit .270 on fastballs (20% Whiff %), that BA dropped to .219 on breaking balls (38.3% Whiff), and .000 on off-speed stuff (58.3% Whiff %). Albeit in a small sample, Rodgers has a lot of work to do on non-Fastballs. He swung at 54.8% of the pitches he saw in his time in the majors, which has reportedly trended even higher in the minors.
Rockie Road for Prospects
I have a lack of trust with the Rockies organization with prospects in general over the past couple of years. Their stubborn reliance on veterans based on salary, often lasting for the entire season, has hindered the development of several prospects, even during losing seasons. In 2018, Ian Desmond collected 619 plate appearances, hitting .236 with a .307 OBP, despite having 81 games scheduled in Colorado. Matt Holliday’s farewell tour in Denver at the age of 38 somehow warranted 65 plate appearances during August and September of a pennant race. Meanwhile, names like Ryan McMahon, Garrett Hampson, Raimel Tapia, and David Dahl sat on the bench far too often. Similar circumstances presented themselves in 2019, while Desmond continued to get plate appearances to justify an ill-advised contract, as well as Mark Reynolds on a 71-win team.
Currently qualifying at only second base, arguably the weakest non-catcher position, The Dynasty Guru’s excellent collective staff ranked Rodgers tenth in 2020. Personally, I think Rodgers would be closer to 15th with names like Biggio, Madrigal, and McMahon ahead of him, due to risk. Shoulder injuries, especially a torn labrum, can stay with players for years. Rodgers is blocked in the infield at this time, and if an Arenado trade opens up the move to a stacked third base in fantasy, he would be even lower than 15th. My hope is that Rodgers recovers and can be next in a long line of Rockies infielders who can put up great power numbers at Coors. I think Rodgers would make a great piece to sell for a team entering their contention window, or for a Top-25 prospect that you believe in.
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