MLB Story lines
On Sept. 1, 2007, the Colorado Rockies dropped a game to the Arizona Diamondbacks, bringing their season record to 69-66. Respectable, considering the struggles the Rockies have gone through the past few seasons, but not particularly impressive.
One month later, Matt Holliday's mad dash to home plate in the 13th inning of the Rockies' one-game playoff with the San Diego Padres won the team a spot in baseball's postseason. Colorado finished the season at 90-73, winning 21 of its final 28 regular-season games. The Rockies rode their hot streak all the way to the World Series, in which they were rudely interrupted by the Red Sox.
Obviously, there's nothing wrong with a winning streak, but what does last season's historic finish say about the Rockies' true talent level? Are they truly a 90 (well, OK, more like 89 due to the extra game) win squad? Or is their true talent level more in the .500 range? Cast your vote now!
What They're Saying
We've collected a sample of what writers, bloggers and players themselves have said this offseason about the Rockies' amazing finish. For this issue, we've chosen ESPN's Buster Olney, blogger Brandi Griffin from PurpleRow.com and the San Diego Union-Tribune's Chris Jenkins:
Buster Olney: "The Rockies made a historic run to the playoffs last year, winning every game they played for the better part of the final month, and Colorado general manager Dan O'Dowd bears so much respect for the ethics of his players that he never thought they might take their success for granted.
"But within five days after the conclusion of the World Series, he saw something that confirmed what he believed about them: The Rockies' weight room was nearly packed with the players already beginning their preparation for the 2008 season. "I was really encouraged by that," said O'Dowd. "It's a different feeling, knowing you can win, as opposed to hoping you can win.
"Pitchers Manny Corpas and Ubaldo Jimenez stayed in Denver. Franklin Morales and Jason Hirsh appeared regularly too, along with many of the position players. Their sense of urgency to compete is still in place apparently. So, we know this about the Rockies: They will hit with such a deep lineup worthy of an AL power and they will generally catch the ball. Jayson Nix enters spring training as the favorite to be the second baseman and if he beats out Jeff Baker and Ian Stewart, he'll probably give Colorado more defense at the position than they got from Kaz Matsui last year.
"What remains to be seen is whether the Rockies will put together the kind of pitching that carried them into the World Series. "
Feb. 17, 2008
Rox ready to roll
Brandi Griffin, PurpleRow.com: "[Todd] Helton, Tulo [Troy Tulowitzki ] and [Matt] Holliday (who in 2007 combined for a 26.2 WARP1 according to BP) are projected to be just under sixteen wins above their definition of replacement level this year. According to Baseball Prospectus, we're expected to lose over ten wins at first, short and left field by trotting out the same players that we did in 2007. Holliday is expected to decline the most, dropping over four wins from what he gave us in 2007. Helton's projected to give up just under four and Tulo nearly two and a half. Don't blame the numbers or those that use them for this, the age curves and regressions that they are based on have proven very accurate in anticipating future performance. PECOTA also culls historical comparisons from a database of thousands of players to improve its accuracy. So it seems that one of the biggest issues for the Rockies in 2008 that nobody's talking about will be whether Holliday, Helton and Tulo can continue to be all-league caliber rather than just the very good players the numbers seem to be saying they are. "
Feb. 13, 2008
Defying PECOTA: How the Colorado Rockies might beat their 2008 projections
Chris Jenkins, San Diego Union-Tribune: "As hard as it was to believe what Colorado did in September and October – and the Padres were the ones shaking their heads most of all – nobody is buying a Rockies suggestion that they're not to be included among any preseason favorites for 2008. That they're headed back to fourth place, if not worse, in the NL West.
"'People want to see if we can do it again,' said [Jeff] Francis. 'They want to see that it's a fluke.'
"It would have been a mere fluke if the Boston Red Sox, who swept the Rockies out of the World Series after Colorado's eight-day layoff, had won 21 of 22. That it was Colorado, a perennial division doormat whose only previous postseason appearance came in 1995, took the run to the point of freakish. Otherworldly."
March 10, 2008
Rockies won't surprise anyone after '07 surge.
The Rundown: Streaking Rockies
Matt Holliday's mad dash sent the Rockies to the postseason.A 4-hour, 40-minute, 13-inning classic capped off the Rockies' regular season, with Matt Holliday just barely beating a Brian Giles throw home to send the Rockies to the playoffs. It wasn't an easy road, however; the team had to go 13-1 in its final 14 games to force the game in the first place.
Even more dramatically, eight of the Rockies' wins came by two runs or less, with two going deep into extra innings. In a year filled with dramatic, late-season comebacks, the Rockies may have had the most exciting run of all. Here's a look back at how they did it.