Friday, October 12, 2007

Rocks-Zona thoughts

Rockin' & Rollin'

It's time to stop. For your own good and personal sanity, just stop picking against the Colorado Rockies. This run-away freight train isn't showing signs of derailing any time soon, so fans of the underdog and fans of baseball in general should just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Our very own D-back devotee has made the mistake of doubting the Rocks not once, but twice in their first four games of the 2007 playoffs. The way things are looking, he might only get seven more chances to make another prediction. In his Game 1 breakdown, the Arizona aficionado pulled the Brandon Webb trump card - "Webb will show you what I'm talking about in Game 1 at home. He has a silly sinker, a good fastball to keep you honest, a curveball to make you look like a fool and a changeup just to mess with you while you are grasping at anything."

Yes, Webb is a dominant pitcher and a prime candidate for his second Cy Young award in as many years, but for all of his ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound, the cool customers from Coors have been his Kryptonite. In 11 match-ups against Colorado in the last two seasons, Webb is just 2-5 with a 4.50 ERA. Against all other teams, he's 32-14 with a 2.83 ERA. And these aren't 2-1 squeakers either. This season, Arizona's ace has allowed four runs or more six times in seven starts against the Rocks compared to just five times in 29 starts against the rest of the majors. Clearly the men in purple and black know something the rest of the league hasn't quite figured out yet.

Then there's the offense, which has been hotter than a mid-October week in the district (yeah, I'm talking about last week). Kaz Matsui is still scorching, Holliday should be the league's MVP, Tavares is back in the lead-off spot and Brad Hawpe knows Webb better than the back of his hand. Thursday night's hero, Hawpe is hitting an insane .647 (11 for 17) with 13 RBI against Webb this season. Ownage anyone?

Then there's Jeff Francis. Yes he was the last pitcher to lose a game for the Rockies (the only one in the last 19 games). And yes, that loss happened to be a win for Mr. Webb. But that game was at Coors while Francis seems much more comfortable in the home of the rattlers. He's now 5-0 at Chase Field. Oh yeah, he's also 18-5 since May 12. In that same period, Webb is 15-8.

And finally, there's that defense. The Rockies set a record with their team fielding percentage this season, and we all know that DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS. They've commited just one error through four postseason games and that tenacious d came into play once again Thursday night. Agree with the call or not - Justin Upton throwing his shoulder into the legs of an airborne Kaz Matsui was as easy as an interference call gets - the reason Upton felt compelled to take out Kaz at any cost was because he knew a double play was imminent. When you're pitching is lights-out (see Francis) and you're bats are scorching (see Hawpe), the opposition knows it can't waste chances when runners are on base, it just doesn't happen often enough.

This series should still go at least six. But I wouldn't bet on it. The Rockies could just as easily snuff the snakes in four and take some well-deserved time off to scout their next victims.

- The Tarheel


DMG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Friendship said...

The statisitcs were staring me in the face. I even wrote them down and them immediatey wrote them off. Francis was 7-2 against. All the batting averages were just sick nasty against the DBacks, and yet I held on. Maybe out of hope, maybe out of delusion. But I was not rewarded for my faith.

But out of all honesty, the rocks play very good baseball and I think the Diamondbacks inexperience in the MLB really showed last night.

Yes the Rockies are a young team, but the DBacks are younger in terms of Major League experience, by far. Young, Upton, Drew, Jackson, Reynolds, all these guys are either first or second year players.

The Rockies, Holliday, Helton, Atkins, Hawpe, Matsui, Taveras, they've all been at this show for a while and know a thing or two about staying consistent.

If you want to watch good baseball, do look at the Rockies because they played the game very well last night against a legit pitcher.

Although they still aren't as good as the 2002 A's who won 20 games in a row to win their divison on the backs of Tejada and Chavez... just something to think about all you bandwagon jumpers.

DMG said...

There's a lot more to defense in baseball than fielding percentage. For positional players obviously there is range and I don't think Hawpe or Holliday has a lot of it. But the most important part of defense in baseball is pitching (after all, defense is what you do to stop the other team from scoring, is it not?). Don't get me wrong, I think the Rockies will win (I don't have much faith in a team that was outscored on the season), but I don't think think it will be because of their fielding percentage.

Also, Holliday shouldn't be the MVP, it should be Rollins or Fielder. Why? Holliday was .376/.435/.722 (Avg/OBP/Slug) with 25 home runs at Coors field, and OPS'd 1.146. Everywhere else he hit .301/.374/.485 with 11 homers. So if he had performed like he did in ballparks that weren't the most hitter-friendly in the history of the game at home, or played for another team, he'd project to hit about .303 with 23 home runs (he had more home at bats). Even if you figure everyone has some home field advantage and he would have performed better at home than on the road and give him a generous bump to, say, .315/.405/.625 with 28 home runs he still falls well short of Fielder (50 home runs, 1.013 OPS) and Rollins (30 Hrs, 20 triples and 21 stolen bases). Heck throw Ryan Howard (.976 OPS; 47 HRs) and Hanley Ramirez (.332 avg, 51 SBs, 29 Hrs) ahead of Holliday too.

The Friendship said...

Holliday was pretty amazing, and you really can't put a price on such a filthy batting average. Especially because without the numbers he put up in Sept. the Rockies aren't even in the Playoffs.

The only person I would think has a shot at knocking him off would be Rollins who played a similar vital role in his team's playoff birth.

You really can't go wrong with either of those guys, but I would push it in favor of Jimmy. He put up unheard of numbers across the board in categories that no one comes close to reproducing. That's an MVP.

DMG said...

Fair, I think Rollins would be fine. He obviously has added value because he plays such a difficult defensive position. But of the three we mentioned Fielder has the higherst Runs Created per 27 outs (9.1) even if you dont adjust for Coors (Holliday is at 9.0; Rollins is like 6.9).

Also Holliday had a great batting average but his OBP was only ten points higher than fielder. Take away the Coors Field effect (that outfield is huge) and I doubt he beats Fielder in that category either.

Steph said...

Can I suggest that everyone start signing their posts like Matt- The Tarheel so graciously did here? It makes it much easier for the casual reader to figure out whats going on. That or everyone get their own account like David and post to this blog- I can show you how to set that up if you don't know.

Not into sports but still trying to tell you what to do...

DMG said...

the author of every post is tagged in the labels section under the post

DMG said...

Also we all appear to have our own color: Hokie is red/maroon; Tar Heel is blue; and I apparently am green because... Petrels and Panthers are green?