There really is no way to accurately predict how teams in any sport will finish in a given season. While certain teams seem to have more talent on paper, it is impossible to factor in things like injuries, chemistry, and something as simple as a player backing up what it says on his baseball card. Sure, it is easy to suggest that players may depreciate due to age, it is difficult to rate exactly as much. So, in the end, there is no set prediction to trust as being better than another. All should be considered equal as long as reasoning is provided for why a certain team may finish as well or as poorly.
This is my fifth year doing my team predictions. While my accuracy has improved each year, it is far from perfect. I will discuss the outlook from the previous season, the moves made in the off season, the team's farm system and what players can be expected to improve for each team. Based off of that, I have viewed the Las Vegas over unders, and have given said team a win total. As in the previous years, I will do the predictions from worst to best.
The Colorado Rockies finished the 2015 season at 68-94. The team's Achilles heel is going to continue to be their pitching, mainly their starting rotation. The team is continuing to build up some talent in its farm system with the intention of eventually addressing their starting pitching. Unfortunately, this help is unlikely to help right away and the front office has not done enough to help their starters for this coming season. They did add a couple of relievers, mainly Jake McGee (1 win, 2 losses, 2.41 earned run average, 48 strikeouts in just over 37 innings) from Tampa Bay in a deal for outfielder Corey Dickerson (.304 batting average, 10 home runs, 31 runs batted in, .869 on base plus slugging). They also added free agent relievers Chad Qualls (3-5, 4.38, 60 games pitched with Houston) and Jason Motte (8-1, 3.91, 57 games with Chicago Cubs).
One of the things that will always allow the Rockies to compete is the friendly confines of their home stadium of Coors Field. Naturally, the team has always been able to score a lot of runs but even when they have their best pitching on the mound, they tend to give up runs at the same rate. Of course, that assumes the pitching is on the same par with the opponent's pitching (we can all agree that it is not).
Odds are, as in previous seasons, the Rockies will be able to score runs. Third baseman Nolan Arenado (.287, 42, 130, .898) solidified himself as a star in 2015.Outfielder Carlos Gonzalez (.271, 40, 97, .864) was back to being the top player he was before a couple seasons of injury. The Rockies signed free agent OF Gerardo Parra (.291, 14, 51, .780) from the Baltimore Orioles to add a little length to the lineup. Second baseman DJ LeMahieu (.301, 6, 61, .746) and center fielder Charlie Blackmon (.287, 17, 58, .797) allow for the Rockies to continue to be able to score runs. They will need a little help from shortstop Jose Reyes (.274, 7, 53, 24 stolen bases), who has gradually lost range at the position. However, his offensive struggles seemed to start after his mid season 2015 trade to Colorado. Because of that, I cannot guarantee that Reyes is a diminished offensive player. He, and the Rockies, are both hopeful that he can avoid a suspension from major league baseball for his off season domestic violence incident. Nick Hundley (.301, 10, 43, .807) will be the starting catcher and Ben Paulsen (.277, 11, 49, .787) will be at first base. The lineup I would put out for the Rockies is as follows: Blackmon CF, Reyes SS, Arenado 3B, Gonzalez RF, Parra LF, LeMahieu 2B, Paulsen 1B, Hundley C.
The Rockies brought in slugger Mark Reynolds (.230, 13, 48, .713) as a free agent from the Cardinals and he has the ability to benefit from playing his home games in Coors Field. If it works out, he may get the majority of the at bats at first base instead of Paulsen. Veteran infielder Daniel Descalso (.205, 5, 22, .607) is a dependable backup as is outfielder Brandon Barnes (.251, 2, 17, .655). Dustin Garneau (.157 batting average in 70 at bats) will likely serve as the backup catcher.
I will start out by saying I like the mix of Jonathan Gray, Jeff Hoffman, Tyler Matzek, Chris Rusin and Miguel Castro in regards to Rockies starting pitchers. That being said, LHP Jorge DeLaRosa (9-7, 4.17, 134 strikeouts in 147 innings) and RHP Chad Bettis (8-6, 4.23, 98 Ks, 115 IP) could give the pitching deprived Rockies fan base something to root for. DeLaRosa (when he has been healthy) has been the most consistent Colorado starting pitcher in their history. Bettis started to emerge in the second half of 2015. While I would like to see Gray (0-3, 5.53, 9 starts), Rusin (6-10, 5.33) and Matzek (2-1, 4.09, 5 starts), the Rockies will likely start the season with Tyler Chatwood (missed 2015 season due to Tommy John surgery), Jordan Lyles (2-5, 5.14, 10 starts) and David Hale (5-5, 6.09, 12 starts). Gray, Rusin and Matzek clearly have more upside but I understand the Rockies interest in not ruining all their confidence at the same time.
The bullpen should be better with McGee, Qualls and Motte. Adam Ottavino is on the shelf to start the season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. Jairo Diaz (0-1, 2.37, 21 games) looked good when he was up last season. Justin Miller (3-3, 4.05, 34 games) and veteran Boone Logan (0-3, 4.33, 60 games) look to provide some stability in relief. Castro remains a thought to both relieve and start (0-3, 6.11, 18 games). He was just 20 years old in 2015.
Keep an eye on 2015 top draft pick (#2 overall) Brendon Rodgers, the Rockies shortstop of the future. in addition to Hoffman, the Rockies have their other top draft pick of 2015 Mike Nikorak and LHP Kyle Freeland. My concern with these pitchers is how they will adjust to Coors Field. It is not like the Rockies have not drafted talented pitchers before. History shows that these pitchers struggle in their new surroundings and there is no evidence that this will not continue to happen. Before we see the likes of Hoffman, Nikorak and Freeland, we will see if Gray can adjust to the altitude. So far, Rusin and Matzek have had mixed reviews. Infielder Trevor Storey, 3B Ryan MacMahon and OF David Dahl are all solid young players we should expect to see in the major leagues soon. Cristhian Adames has a good shot to crack the MLB roster to start the season as a role player, but is obviously blocked at third and second by Arenado and LeMahieu, respectively.
My problem with the Rockies has existed for the past twenty something years. Since even the best pitchers struggle at Coors Field, it has led to pitchers not wanting to come to Colorado. Because of this, the value of a starting pitcher contract is higher (like the altitude) in Colorado than it would be anywhere else. For example, David Price would be worth a $300 million contract and Zack Greinke $250 million. Until the ownership gets that they are not on the same playing field as other teams in regards to top pitchers, they will continue to struggle. I hope the young pitchers like Gray and Nikorak can succeed, but chances are, it will be tough for them too. The goal for the Rockies will continue to score more runs than the opposition, even though they know they will give up a lot of runs themselves. I see the Rockies taking a step back this season, as Las Vegas has them at 68.5. I see them winning 62 games, losing 100 and once again finishing in last place in the NL West division.