Rockies Have The Ingredients to Win First Division Title in Franchise History

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From the outside, it does not appear that the public is overly impressed with the Rockies.

But are the national experts missing something?

It’s not out of the question.

The pre-season projections are for the Rockies to win between 81 ½ games and 82 ½.

That’s not going to get them into the post-season for the third year in a row, much less allow them to win the first division title in franchise history.

But. …

Is it just the fear of altitude, the fact the Rockies have never won a division title and have advanced past the Division Series only once – in 2017 when they were swept in the World Series by the Red Sox – or just that Coors Field enigma?

The Rockies were not headline grabbers in the off-season, signing Daniel Murphy, who will assume the first base role, and bringing back Mark Reynolds to fill a backup role.

Did they need more?

Murphy did add one of the game’s most productive hitters over the last four years. He is an excellent fit for a Rockies team that is coming off the worst offensive season in franchise history, including not having a batter hit .300.

That, however, would seem to be an outlier more than a trend.

There is a four-year track record that provides reason for optimism from the Rockies. Murphy's .314 batting average is the highest of any NL hitter. Charlie Blackmon (.308) ranks fifth in the NL and Nolan Arenado (.297) is 12th. Arenado leads the NL with 158 home runs. Blackmon is sixth with 112. And in terms of RBI, Arenado again is No. 1 with 503 on a list that includes Blackmon (.314) 13th and Murphy (312) 14th.

The Rockies compiled the lowest team batting average in franchise history, and they scored only 780 runs -- 14th in franchise history among full seasons, and 15th overall, five fewer runs than the Rockies scored in a strike-shortened 1995 season when they played only 144 regular-season games.

And don’t overlook a young and impressive starting rotation, anchored by Kyle Freeland, German Marquez, Tyler Anderson and Jon Gray, each of whom has room for growth, but played a critical part in the Rockies having a rotation that was the foundation for their post-season appearance.

The Rockies rotation led the NL innings pitched, and while the ERA (4.17) was a bit higher than most -- blame it on Coors Field -- the Rockies not only had a rotation work 932 innings, but also had a .578 winning percentage (59-43), second in the NL to only the Dodgers (57-38).

There were only 28 pitchers in the NL who worked the 162 innings necessary to qualify for an ERA title, and four of them were Rockies, the most of any NL team. The Phillies, Diamondbacks, Cubs and Braves each had three. The Dodgers, who knocked off the Rockies in a Game 163 to determine the NL West champion, did not have a starting pitcher who worked enough innings to qualify for an ERA title.