ZiPS 2021 Projections: Colorado Rockies

After having typically appeared in the hallowed pages of Baseball Think Factory, Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections have now been released at FanGraphs for nine years. The exercise continues this offseason. Below are the projections for the Colorado Rockies.

Batters

This is one of the worst teams in the majors — certainly the worst that seems blissfully unaware of that fact. The Rockies have two position players they can count on to be good, and one of them, Nolan Arenado, is no guarantee to start the 2021 season with Colorado. Even after a weak 60-game stretch in a year everyone would like to forget, if the Rockies do shop Arenado, they will get significant interest in the market. But would they actually close a deal? I’m not sure they will be realistic about the effect his contract and the unknown of an opt-out will have on trade offers. Regardless, ZiPS expects a bounceback season as he continues to make his mid-career Hall of Fame case.

If the Rockies do trade Arenado — and maybe even if they don’t — it would be hard for them to avoid trading Trevor Story if they actually do go for a full-on rebuild. Colorado has had poor fortune with some of its top offensive prospects, but Story has been one of the best kinds of surprises: a player who got far less press as a prospect than others in the organization (despite being a high draft pick) but kept hitting as he went up the ladder, got to the majors first and left the competition scrambling to find other positions. One of those players, Brendan Rodgers, is at risk of going the way of Ryan McMahon, in that he’s done everything he could in the minors to earn a chance in the majors only to find the team casually disinterested in distributing the necessary playing time.

The bright spots for Colorado end with Arenado and Story. There are few players on this roster who should be starting for a major league team; after more injuries and some ugly numbers when on the field in 2020, David Dahl may not actually be one of them. Josh Fuentes is currently listed as the first baseman on our depth charts, but I don’t expect him to end the offseason with that job. It’s possible that the Rockies stick with him at first, but his .306 batting average shouldn’t mask his .759 OPS at the position.

On the plus side, the Rockies got a good long look at promising youngster Matt Kemp, and Ian Desmond is coming off the best season of his Colorado career with an 86 wRC+ and -0.3 WAR.

Pitchers

Things are less bleak here, though likely nowhere near enough to compensate for the team’s all-encompassing malpractice in the lineup. Germán Márquez is just below the top tier of starting pitchers, but he’s survived Coors Field better than most. In a good season, he ought to make some noise at the back of Cy Young ballots; if I’d had an NL Cy Young vote in 2018, I’d have given him a spot on the ballot over Kyle Freeland. Signed through 2023 with an option for ’24, I think Márquez would actually fetch more on the market than either Arenado or Story, as weird as that might sound.

There were reasons to both be happy and worried about Freeland’s 2020. His line was closer to reasonable expectations than his dreadful 2019 season as — predictably — his home-run rate returned to relative normalcy. It’s not quite captured in a computer projection, but I like that he tinkered with his repertoire and focused on his curve and changeup quite a lot during the season. But on the negative side, losing a strikeout a game for two straight seasons is rarely an auspicious sign, so it keeps me in “hold” rather than “buy” territory.

As usual, the bullpen needs help. ZiPS likes Scott Oberg, Mychal Givens, and Carlos Estévez just fine, but there isn’t a great deal of upside, and the quality falls off after this trio. One exception is Daniel Bard, one of the majors’ best comeback stories and who hadn’t been both healthy and effective since 2011. He came back throwing 97 mph and struck out 27 batters in 24 1/3 innings for Colorado; his projection might in fact be low. In this case, though, I can’t really expect ZiPS to have a great feel for a player in this type of situation.

Matt Pierpont is an interesting minor league free agent as a pitcher ZiPS thought should be in Colorado’s bullpen for 2021, but like countless others before (Mike Tauchman, Tom Murphy, Roberto Ramos, etc), the Rockies never showed much interest in him despite his success in the minors. He didn’t make this list, but Alexander Guillen, signed by the Marlins, had a projection of similar quality.

Ballpark graphic courtesy Eephus League. Depth charts constructed by way of those listed here.

Batters – Standard
Player B Age PO PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS
Trevor Story R 28 SS 650 587 96 160 35 6 33 86 57 176 27 7
Nolan Arenado R 30 3B 613 547 86 158 32 3 32 99 56 89 2 2
Colton Welker R 23 3B 518 472 56 133 28 2 15 67 36 104 3 1
Kevin Pillar R 32 CF 586 552 79 156 36 3 17 74 23 90 13 5
Charlie Blackmon L 34 RF 603 545 93 159 29 6 22 76 46 112 5 5
Ryan McMahon L 26 2B 524 469 65 118 24 3 22 73 49 162 5 2
Yonathan Daza R 27 CF 535 501 61 148 28 5 7 45 26 89 12 8
Raimel Tapia L 27 LF 527 489 68 144 29 8 8 48 31 106 17 4
Dom Nuñez L 26 C 369 319 44 69 14 1 13 40 42 105 5 2
David Dahl L 27 LF 429 394 56 109 21 6 18 58 27 119 5 3
Garrett Hampson R 26 2B 513 465 64 121 18 7 11 39 39 127 25 6
Ryan Vilade R 22 3B 608 543 71 138 24 7 10 49 48 129 15 9
Mike Gerber L 28 CF 488 448 62 114 30 3 20 69 33 148 4 3
Brendan Rodgers R 24 2B 389 359 46 92 20 2 12 46 22 88 5 2
Brian Serven R 26 C 326 292 35 64 14 1 9 30 21 82 1 4
Chris Owings R 29 2B 366 337 45 84 17 2 12 43 24 99 11 4
Eric Stamets R 29 SS 371 335 39 74 15 2 8 33 25 102 10 1
Tony Wolters L 29 C 333 294 33 70 13 2 2 28 29 70 0 1
Connor Joe R 28 1B 442 383 54 93 22 3 12 49 49 102 1 3
Josh Fuentes R 28 1B 499 470 60 126 27 4 13 60 18 130 4 2
Chris Rabago R 28 C 306 273 29 59 12 2 4 22 27 79 10 5
Max George R 25 C 345 298 39 62 12 2 8 27 32 91 17 7
Elias Díaz R 30 C 340 315 33 84 16 0 6 38 22 57 1 0
Jose Briceno R 28 C 277 260 28 59 9 1 10 32 13 70 4 1
Alan Trejo R 25 SS 504 468 51 112 21 2 12 45 24 129 5 6
Kelby Tomlinson R 31 SS 367 334 35 83 12 2 0 19 27 75 7 4
Daniel Murphy L 36 1B 411 379 46 104 22 1 12 55 27 61 1 0
Austin Bernard B 25 C 252 220 24 38 8 2 5 17 27 93 2 1
Sam Hilliard L 27 RF 522 476 65 110 18 5 22 58 41 183 19 8
Matt Kemp R 36 LF 377 346 43 93 14 0 17 64 28 95 1 0
Vince Fernandez L 25 LF 424 376 49 77 16 3 16 46 42 179 5 6
Jimmy Herron R 24 CF 374 332 39 77 13 3 8 35 32 77 10 9
Bret Boswell L 26 2B 469 432 53 95 15 2 17 48 29 163 5 7
Drew Butera R 37 C 215 192 23 39 10 1 3 20 17 56 0 0
Ian Desmond R 35 LF 471 430 59 105 21 5 15 58 34 115 8 4
Matt McLaughlin R 25 2B 400 358 38 83 15 1 2 24 32 101 8 10
Drew Weeks R 28 LF 443 405 52 100 19 4 13 48 28 103 6 8
Luke Morgan R 25 RF 352 318 35 69 15 4 3 22 29 106 10 4
Matt Hearn L 25 CF 450 414 44 103 12 4 1 22 30 97 19 13
Casey Golden R 26 LF 432 385 50 71 13 1 18 46 31 204 10 5
Taylor Snyder R 26 SS 379 351 35 71 14 2 9 33 19 142 10 7
Manuel Melendez L 24 CF 553 523 56 132 17 6 6 41 18 93 16 13
Sean Bouchard R 25 LF 404 367 42 78 19 1 9 36 30 137 9 6

 

Batters – Advanced
Player BA OBP SLG OPS+ ISO BABIP RC/27 Def WAR No. 1 Comp
Trevor Story .273 .340 .521 110 .249 .336 6.8 6 4.0 Robby Thompson
Nolan Arenado .289 .354 .534 117 .245 .296 7.1 10 3.8 Aramis Ramirez
Colton Welker .282 .331 .445 91 .163 .334 5.6 3 1.3 Willy Aybar
Kevin Pillar .283 .317 .451 88 .168 .312 5.5 0 1.1 Garry Maddox
Charlie Blackmon .292 .352 .488 106 .196 .333 6.4 -5 1.1 Andy Van Slyke
Ryan McMahon .252 .324 .456 92 .205 .337 5.4 -1 1.1 Mat Gamel
Yonathan Daza .295 .331 .413 84 .118 .348 5.1 2 0.9 Skip Schumaker
Raimel Tapia .294 .337 .436 91 .141 .363 5.8 2 0.8 David DeJesus
Dom Nuñez .216 .313 .389 74 .172 .279 4.2 4 0.7 Chad Kreuter
David Dahl .277 .325 .497 101 .221 .354 6.0 -2 0.7 Brant Brown
Garrett Hampson .260 .317 .400 77 .140 .336 4.9 1 0.7 Mike Fontenot
Ryan Vilade .254 .313 .379 72 .125 .317 4.2 9 0.6 Denny Hocking
Mike Gerber .254 .310 .469 90 .214 .336 5.2 -4 0.6 Dan Briggs
Brendan Rodgers .256 .306 .423 79 .167 .309 4.7 3 0.6 Kelly Heath
Brian Serven .219 .280 .366 59 .147 .274 3.3 9 0.4 Blake Barthol
Chris Owings .249 .301 .418 77 .169 .319 4.6 2 0.4 Gookie Dawkins
Eric Stamets .221 .283 .349 57 .128 .293 3.7 7 0.3 Erick Monzon
Tony Wolters .238 .315 .316 59 .078 .306 3.5 5 0.1 Doug Newstrom
Connor Joe .243 .336 .410 85 .167 .301 4.8 1 0.1 Chris Jelic
Josh Fuentes .268 .298 .426 77 .157 .346 4.7 7 0.1 Jose Leon
Chris Rabago .216 .290 .319 52 .103 .289 3.2 5 0.0 Paul Hoover
Max George .208 .303 .342 61 .134 .271 3.6 0 0.0 Brian Moon
Elias Díaz .267 .315 .375 71 .108 .310 4.4 -3 0.0 Raul Chavez
Jose Briceno .227 .264 .385 59 .158 .272 3.6 2 -0.1 Jason Brown
Alan Trejo .239 .281 .370 60 .130 .306 3.5 6 -0.1 Travis Hanson
Kelby Tomlinson .249 .307 .296 52 .048 .320 3.2 6 -0.2 Chico Ruiz
Daniel Murphy .274 .324 .433 86 .158 .301 5.2 -3 -0.3 Rich Aurilia
Austin Bernard .173 .271 .295 41 .123 .270 2.6 4 -0.3 Jerrey Thurston
Sam Hilliard .231 .294 .429 77 .197 .325 4.5 0 -0.4 Andy Tomberlin
Matt Kemp .269 .321 .457 91 .188 .325 5.4 -8 -0.4 Walt Dropo
Vince Fernandez .205 .291 .391 68 .186 .337 3.7 5 -0.5 Juan Williams
Jimmy Herron .232 .306 .361 66 .130 .279 3.6 -1 -0.5 Lee Grimes
Bret Boswell .220 .274 .382 61 .162 .310 3.4 4 -0.5 Paul Gonzalez
Drew Butera .203 .268 .313 44 .109 .271 2.8 -1 -0.6 Tony Pena
Ian Desmond .244 .302 .421 78 .177 .300 4.5 -5 -0.8 Dan Gladden
Matt McLaughlin .232 .302 .296 51 .064 .318 2.8 -1 -1.3 Chris Gutierrez
Drew Weeks .247 .302 .410 75 .163 .301 4.2 -8 -1.3 Fletcher Bates
Luke Morgan .217 .286 .318 50 .101 .316 3.2 -1 -1.4 Scott Little
Matt Hearn .249 .303 .304 52 .056 .323 3.1 -2 -1.4 Trench Davis
Casey Golden .184 .265 .364 54 .179 .325 3.2 1 -1.4 Keith Kimsey
Taylor Snyder .202 .249 .330 43 .128 .310 2.7 -1 -1.5 Jake Wald
Manuel Melendez .252 .282 .342 55 .090 .297 3.3 -1 -1.6 Clay Timpner
Sean Bouchard .213 .275 .343 53 .131 .312 3.2 -1 -1.6 Gary Crabtree

 

Pitchers – Standard
Player T Age W L ERA G GS IP H ER HR BB SO FIP
Germán Márquez R 26 13 9 4.29 32 32 186.7 191 89 28 49 200 3.87
Kyle Freeland L 28 9 8 5.07 29 29 149.0 169 84 22 58 113 4.87
Jon Gray R 29 9 8 5.05 25 25 133.7 147 75 22 47 130 4.52
Antonio Senzatela R 26 10 11 5.51 32 28 150.3 175 92 24 58 103 5.16
Antonio Santos R 24 6 6 5.49 23 21 114.7 133 70 22 33 89 5.17
Jeff Hoffman R 28 8 8 5.66 31 21 117.7 130 74 20 53 115 4.94
Scott Oberg R 31 4 2 3.88 55 0 55.7 51 24 6 21 58 3.74
Wes Parsons R 28 4 4 5.27 27 10 85.3 93 50 14 38 75 5.07
Brandon Gold R 26 8 9 5.93 25 25 133.7 177 88 27 31 88 5.36
Ryan Rolison L 23 6 6 5.68 19 19 90.3 100 57 17 39 76 5.44
Carlos Estévez R 28 4 3 4.64 67 0 66.0 66 34 11 25 75 4.30
Peter Lambert R 24 7 8 6.15 29 29 142.0 170 97 30 49 101 5.71
Mychal Givens R 31 4 3 4.63 56 0 58.3 51 30 10 24 74 4.26
Heath Holder R 28 5 5 5.54 35 7 79.7 85 49 14 39 77 5.19
Jairo Díaz R 30 4 4 4.75 62 0 60.7 61 32 7 31 60 4.43
Matt Pierpont R 30 3 3 4.57 35 0 45.3 46 23 6 20 42 4.57
Ashton Goudeau R 28 4 4 5.71 21 11 69.3 81 44 13 23 53 5.26
Dereck Rodríguez R 29 6 7 6.12 25 18 103.0 124 70 22 37 83 5.57
Tommy Doyle R 25 5 4 4.85 44 0 42.7 43 23 6 20 41 4.70
Daniel Bard R 36 6 5 4.83 41 0 41.0 36 22 5 26 47 4.74
Phillip Diehl L 26 3 2 5.13 44 1 59.7 61 34 10 25 61 4.77
Matt Dennis R 26 7 9 6.27 29 20 117.7 152 82 23 49 76 5.86
Ben Bowden L 26 3 3 5.07 50 0 49.7 44 28 9 32 67 4.89
Chi Chi González R 29 5 7 6.42 23 19 102.3 117 73 21 54 79 6.03
Yency Almonte R 27 4 3 5.32 67 0 69.3 73 41 11 38 64 5.21
Reid Humphreys R 26 2 2 5.24 40 0 34.3 34 20 5 19 34 4.93
Zac Rosscup L 33 0 0 5.24 24 0 22.3 20 13 4 16 29 5.19
Wade Davis R 35 3 3 5.45 43 0 38.0 36 23 6 23 42 5.00
Chad Smith R 26 3 3 5.53 37 0 40.7 40 25 4 32 39 5.12
Harrison Musgrave L 29 2 3 6.35 29 7 56.7 62 40 12 31 51 5.88
Jose Mujica R 25 2 3 6.75 10 8 41.3 55 31 9 17 19 6.47
Tyler Kinley R 30 3 3 5.76 61 0 54.7 52 35 9 41 61 5.50
Tim Collins L 31 3 3 5.94 46 0 36.3 36 24 6 28 38 5.63
James Pazos L 30 2 3 5.92 49 0 48.7 54 32 9 27 42 5.71
AJ Ramos R 34 2 2 6.31 29 0 25.7 27 18 5 18 27 5.83
Rayan González R 30 2 3 5.98 40 0 43.7 46 29 7 31 38 5.86
Joe Harvey R 29 2 2 6.23 37 0 39.0 40 27 8 26 41 5.90
Jesus Tinoco R 26 3 3 6.05 55 0 61.0 69 41 11 37 50 5.85
Brian Gonzalez L 25 4 5 6.80 24 12 83.3 104 63 19 39 61 6.23
Justin Lawrence R 26 2 3 6.37 46 0 41.0 43 29 5 37 35 5.98
Nelson Gonzalez R 31 1 2 7.02 18 3 41.0 48 32 10 27 35 6.77
Tim Melville R 31 6 9 7.03 23 18 96.0 115 75 25 50 79 6.64
Ryan Castellani R 25 5 8 7.44 21 20 90.7 107 75 21 67 69 7.08

 

Pitchers – Advanced
Player K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BB% K% BABIP ERA+ ERA- WAR No. 1 Comp
Germán Márquez 9.6 2.4 1.4 6.2% 25.2% .319 120 83 3.5 Bob Rush
Kyle Freeland 6.8 3.5 1.3 8.7% 16.9% .313 101 99 1.8 Johnny Schmitz
Jon Gray 8.8 3.2 1.5 8.0% 22.0% .323 102 98 1.7 Mike Krukow
Antonio Senzatela 6.2 3.5 1.4 8.6% 15.2% .310 93 107 1.3 John Denny
Antonio Santos 7.0 2.6 1.7 6.5% 17.5% .311 94 107 0.9 Rick Wise
Jeff Hoffman 8.8 4.1 1.5 9.9% 21.5% .324 91 110 0.8 Bill Swift
Scott Oberg 9.4 3.4 1.0 8.9% 24.5% .300 132 75 0.8 Greg Minton
Wes Parsons 7.9 4.0 1.5 9.8% 19.4% .311 97 103 0.8 Russ Bauers
Brandon Gold 5.9 2.1 1.8 5.1% 14.5% .332 87 115 0.7 Lary Sorensen
Ryan Rolison 7.6 3.9 1.7 9.5% 18.6% .306 91 110 0.7 Mike Miller
Carlos Estévez 10.2 3.4 1.5 8.7% 26.1% .316 111 90 0.5 Jerry Dipoto
Peter Lambert 6.4 3.1 1.9 7.6% 15.7% .308 84 120 0.5 John Mitchell
Mychal Givens 11.4 3.7 1.5 9.6% 29.6% .295 111 90 0.5 Gregg Olson
Heath Holder 8.7 4.4 1.6 10.8% 21.3% .313 93 108 0.4 Tony Fiore
Jairo Díaz 8.9 4.6 1.0 11.3% 21.9% .314 108 92 0.4 Doug Sisk
Matt Pierpont 8.3 4.0 1.2 9.9% 20.8% .305 113 89 0.3 Ed Farmer
Ashton Goudeau 6.9 3.0 1.7 7.4% 17.0% .312 90 111 0.3 Bill Swaggerty
Dereck Rodríguez 7.3 3.2 1.9 7.9% 17.8% .319 84 119 0.3 Ownie Carroll
Tommy Doyle 8.6 4.2 1.3 10.5% 21.5% .306 106 94 0.2 Newt Kimball
Daniel Bard 10.3 5.7 1.1 13.9% 25.1% .298 106 94 0.2 Ryne Duren
Phillip Diehl 9.2 3.8 1.5 9.4% 23.0% .309 100 100 0.2 Juan Agosto
Matt Dennis 5.8 3.7 1.8 8.9% 13.8% .325 82 122 0.2 Bill Swift
Ben Bowden 12.1 5.8 1.6 14.3% 29.9% .307 101 99 0.2 Darren Oliver
Chi Chi González 6.9 4.7 1.8 11.4% 16.6% .304 80 125 0.1 Don Schwall
Yency Almonte 8.3 4.9 1.4 11.9% 20.1% .308 97 104 0.1 Bill Kelso
Reid Humphreys 8.9 5.0 1.3 12.2% 21.8% .302 98 102 0.1 Bill Zuber
Zac Rosscup 11.7 6.4 1.6 15.5% 28.2% .302 98 102 0.0 Marshall Bridges
Wade Davis 9.9 5.4 1.4 13.3% 24.3% .300 94 106 0.0 Don Aase
Chad Smith 8.6 7.1 0.9 16.5% 20.1% .310 93 108 0.0 Newt Kimball
Harrison Musgrave 8.1 4.9 1.9 11.9% 19.5% .303 81 124 -0.1 Dean Stone
Jose Mujica 4.1 3.7 2.0 8.8% 9.8% .313 76 131 -0.1 Mike Nagy
Tyler Kinley 10.0 6.8 1.5 16.0% 23.8% .303 89 112 -0.1 Ted Abernathy
Tim Collins 9.4 6.9 1.5 16.3% 22.1% .303 86 116 -0.1 Arnold Earley
James Pazos 7.8 5.0 1.7 11.9% 18.6% .310 87 115 -0.2 Jim Brewer
AJ Ramos 9.5 6.3 1.8 14.9% 22.3% .314 81 123 -0.2 Marshall Bridges
Rayan González 7.8 6.4 1.4 14.9% 18.3% .302 86 116 -0.2 Ted Abernathy
Joe Harvey 9.5 6.0 1.8 14.3% 22.5% .305 83 121 -0.2 Newt Kimball
Jesus Tinoco 7.4 5.5 1.6 12.9% 17.4% .312 85 118 -0.3 Ron Willis
Brian Gonzalez 6.6 4.2 2.1 10.0% 15.6% .317 76 132 -0.3 Mark Brandenburg
Justin Lawrence 7.7 8.1 1.1 18.2% 17.2% .309 81 124 -0.3 Ken Wright
Nelson Gonzalez 7.7 5.9 2.2 13.7% 17.8% .309 73 137 -0.3 Jerry Johnson
Tim Melville 7.4 4.7 2.3 11.1% 17.5% .308 73 137 -0.4 Dick Fowler
Ryan Castellani 6.8 6.7 2.1 15.1% 15.5% .305 69 145 -0.7 Rod Boxberger

Players are listed with their most recent teams wherever possible. This includes players who are unsigned, players who will miss 2021 due to injury, and players who were released in 2020. So yes, if you see Joe Schmoe, who quit baseball back in August to form a Finnish industrial death metal fourth-wave ska J-pop band, he’s still listed here intentionally.

Both hitters and pitchers are ranked by projected zWAR, which is to say, WAR values as calculated by me, Dan Szymborski, whose surname is spelled with a z. WAR values might differ slightly from those which appear in the full release of ZiPS. Finally, I will advise anyone against — and might karate chop anyone guilty of — merely adding up WAR totals on a depth chart to produce projected team WAR. ZiPS is assuming that the designated hitter will continue in force in 2021; if it does not, there will be widespread minor adjustments across the board come April.

ZiPS is agnostic about future playing time by design. For more information about ZiPS, please refer to this article, or get angry at Dan on Twitter or something.





Dan Szymborski is a senior writer for FanGraphs and the developer of the ZiPS projection system. He was a writer for ESPN.com from 2010-2018, a regular guest on a number of radio shows and podcasts, and a voting BBWAA member. He also maintains a terrible Twitter account at @DSzymborski.

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So after Story and Arenado, the Rockies’ best position player projection for 2021 is a 23-year-old 45 prospect who has one season above A ball.

Nice.