While I am depressed that there will be no Rocktober this year on Blake Street, I can’t find it in myself to be angry as I usually am when my team’s season has finally ended with no post-season run. (Hey, at least we don’t have to watch the Red Sox either.) Besides a run toward a National League pennant and a trip to the World Series, the Colorado Rockies really gave us fans everything we wanted this year and oftentimes, they were the most exciting team in baseball.
It was because of some fierce hitting by Troy Tulowitzki and a great starting rotation led by Ubaldo Jimenez that the Rox caught everybody’s eye coming into this season, but no doubt the biggest surprise to come from the Colorado dugout was the performance of Carlos Gonzalez, the pride of Venezuela, who became the seventh National League batting champion in Rockies history.
Last year Gonzalez was somewhat of a no-name. His batting average hovered around .200. This year, he was phenomenal and ended the season with a .336 average, a number that beat the next player, Joey Votto of the Reds, by 12 points. CarGo ended the season just short of 200 hits at 197, smacked 24 home runs, stole 26 bases and ended with 117 RBIs.
CarGo was the talk of the town for most of the second half of the season, and it’s nice to see him take the National League battling title and have his name posted with the likes of Andres Galarraga, Larry Walker, Todd Helton and Matt Holliday – the other Rockies batting title winners. I am certain the Rockies will see more great things out of CarGo in the years to come.
While CarGo was a surprise offensive force, most of us would have expected Tulowitzki’s name on that list this year, and barring any injury, I would expect his name to be on that list next year. Even though Tulo had to sit out because of a hand injury for a good portion of the season, he finished fourth in the race for the batting title at .315, and ended with 27 homeruns and 95 RBIs. Tulowitzki becomes the first player since 1993 to lead all National League shortstops in both slugging percentage and fielding percentage.
And let’s not forget about that September tear that Tulo went on when he hit 15 home runs in 28 games. Those 15 homers set a Rockies franchise record for the most home runs in a single month, and he became the second player since 1900 to hit 14 home runs in 15 games. It’s a shame he caught fire so late in the season. Just imagine if he didn’t get injured and caught fire in early August. The NL post-season picture would be painted a bit differently.
Despite all the potential, the Rockies offense is really the reason why Ubaldo Jimenez will more than likely not be crowned the National League Cy Young Award winner. The Rockies ace ended the season at 19-8 and 214 strikeouts, both franchise records.
Half way through the season, Jimenez had the Cy Young Award in the bag with a record of 15-1. After that, though, he finished 4-7 with four no-decisions. The problem for Jimenez during that time wasn’t his control or allowing too many walks, it was the Rockies offense not scoring just a couple of runs to give Ubaldo the win. According to the Denver Post, in Jimenez’s final 11 starts, the Rockies offense scored two runs or less in seven games. For a pitcher, losing a game 1 or 2 to nothing is a heart-breaker.
What makes Jimenez, and any great starter for that matter, so great is his ability to end a losing streak – it was something he did often for the Rockies this year. Next year, I hope we can get the same out of him, and just maybe the offense can score at least two runs to give him at least 25 wins next year. Lofty? Maybe. But at one point this year, it looked like 30 wins wasn’t out of the question. And a Cy Young Award certainly wasn’t out of the question.
But, alas, here we are getting ready for October baseball and the Rockies, with all of these great performers, aren’t participating. They found themselves in a National League West Division that had a surprisingly great San Diego team and the playoff-bound Giants. Before the Rockies slid late in the season, they were within a half-game of the NL West Division lead but couldn’t hang on.
While we sit back and watch all these other teams play this October, Rockies fans can rest assured that great things are still to come with the team that has been put together. Colorado has turned itself into an elite Major League Baseball team.