Analysis

The Coors Field Effect

If you follow baseball, chances are you know about the Coors Field effect when it comes to hitters. Much is made about the thin air and spacious outfield, and how those two factors contribute to some lofty offensive numbers year by year. In fact, 4 out of the last 5 NL batting champs have come out of Colorado.

As much as people love to discount the Rockies’ hitters for playing half of their games in the mile high hitter’s paradise, not enough is made of how hard it is to pitch the majority of your games there. The 2018 Rockies are looking to flip that narrative, and are letting people just how good they really are. Coors Field or not, Rockies’ pitching is typically not good, and that would be putting it nicely. However, once they overcame the early inefficiencies of the bullpen, Colorado has been nothing short of dominant, especially at home. In fact, over the last month or so, the Rockies have had the best home ERA of anybody else in baseball, as well as the best overall starter’s ERA.

Two Denver southpaws in particular have really been lights out of late; Kyle Freeland and Tyler Anderson. Both previous first round picks, Freeland and Anderson both have similar pitching styles. As they pick up their right leg to start driving to the plate, they let it hang in the air and pause at their balance point before delivering the pitch. Freeland has pitched to the tune of a 2.45 ERA at home this season, while Anderson has a 1.32 ERA over the last 28 days. Kyle Freeland also fired 6 scoreless innings against one of the hottest teams in baseball on Friday night, completely negating the homer happy A’s after their onslaught of the Rangers. Meanwhile, Adam Ottavino has a 1.46 ERA out of the bullpen, yet was not named to the All-Star team. His performance has been lights out all season, and to not get the recognition he deserves is a crime.

As this goes on, most people will focus on guys like Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon being products of Coors, and that will ultimately hurt the former’s MVP chances this season. Kyle Freeland and his 3.13 ERA will not garner any consideration for the Cy Young award this season, deserving as he may be for putting up numbers like this in the pitching environment he plays in. Tyler Anderson will only be thought of as merely average because of his 3.57 ERA, not as excelling because of where he is doing it. Adam Ottavino will continue to be a complete afterthought in the discussion of best relief pitchers in the National League. And most importantly, Jon Gray will continue to look like he is not living up to his 3rd overall pick potential. You can’t have it both ways, meaning you can’t knock the hitters down while not putting the pitchers up a level as well. The Coors Field effect is alive and well, but only in terms of the hitters. Give credit where credit is due, and start realizing how special this 2018 Rockies’ pitching staff is.

Brian Schlosser

Rockies, Angels, and general baseball fan. I love talking about baseball more than I love writing about it, and I'm always open for discussion on Twitter @brian_slosh.

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