As the MLB regular season draws to a close, so does the long-endured nightmare of another season for the Colorado Rockies. The 30-year anniversary of the club was anything but celebratory, as fans crammed into bleacher seats and endured the misery of a season that established franchise records in the worst possible ways, one where the Rockies finished with their worst ever record: 59-103.
The purple pinstripe jerseys and sweat-lined hats can be retired until next March. The pain swelling inside of our hearts will slowly begin to recede. The bright side of a nightmare is that it must surely end at some point, and Rockies fans can rest peacefully having finally awoken from a frightful 162 games.
With the 2023 season finally over, what remains is a look back at all we failed to accomplish. A recap of all the feats the Rockies set as the laughable franchise stowed away in the crawlspace of the National League. To say this season was a total loss would be false. As with any franchise that has cemented itself within the rebuilding stage, there are plenty of evident bright spots that cut through the overcast of disappointment. The nightmare was not for nothing.
There are the young guns. Players like Ezequiel Tovar, Elehuris Montero, Brenton Doyle, Nolan Jones, and Hunter Goodman who all displayed glimpses of immense potential, combined with a pipeline of talent that bodes well for the future of the Rockies.
There’s the injuries that will surely be healed. The injury-curse that ravaged the Rockies lineup could’ve quite possibly been a blessing in disguise that gave these young players more opportunities to compete in a season that was lost before the first pitch was even thrown.
There’s plenty that needs to be fixed in the offseason, and optimism will not be able to shield Rockies fans from the fact that much more needs to change before the club can ever reach a sustained level of success. The Rockies proved that they are not an entirely defunct franchise. To put it simply, they are one that prioritizes success as a monetary value versus any sort of success on the field. Things have gone from bad to worse, but there are silver linings layered deep underneath a season that was anything but successful.
1. We Will Always Have March
Remember the start of the season? Remember being undefeated? Above .500? The Rockies beat the Padres two games in a row to begin the year right at the tail-end of March. We sauntered into April as a team atop the NL West. And then, as things tend to go for the Rockies, the wheels fell off. We may have never reached the .500 mark again for the entire season but we were still gifted the sweet sensation of being a winning, undefeated ball club, even if it was for only a couple of days. And as far as MLB seasons go, maybe there should be banners hung for the small victories, a consolation prize amidst the season that plummeted back down to Earth faster than the Rockies were ever able to lift off.
2. The Injury Bug Strikes
As the Rockies season limped on, the spree of injuries that began in spring training only grew worse for the club. The starting rotation was ravaged by season-ending injuries to German Marquez and Antonio Senzatela, both of whom required Tommy John surgery, less than 40 games into the season. From there, injuries to players like Ryan Feltner, C.J. Cron, Charlie Blackmon, Kris Bryant, Brent Suter, Austin Gomber and Kris Bryant again left holes all throughout the lineup and forced the Rockies to use a record number of pitchers this season. In no way is the failure of this season placed upon these injuries, but it’s similar to kicking someone who has already been beaten with a two-by-four. But again, injuries happen all the time in sports. So the Rockies did what anyone else would do and called in reinforcements.
3. The Arrival Of The Young Guns
3.The Arrival Of The Young Guns
The end of the 2022 season gave fans a great look at Elehuris Montero and a brief glimpse at what Ezequiel Tovar could bring to the plate late in the season, but the youth movement that broke free due to the sprawling injured list—or perhaps to simply stop the revolt that might’ve taken place had no changes been made—was the highlight of the season and gifted a glimmer of hope for the future.
Had anyone heard of Nolan Jones before the season began?
What about Brenton Doyle?
I’ve heard countless nicknames for the duo of Jones and Doyle covering their own no-fly-zone encompassing left and center field, but I still feel obligated to call them the young guns simply because of arm talent alone.
Doyle and Jones can field, and they throw heat. It’s mesmerizing to watch. Jones finished first in the MLB with 19 outfield assists while Doyle, which was 5th best in the National League. But, again, the heat. Under Statcast, Doyle and Jones both have an impressive number of 98 mph or higher outfield assists in a single season: Doyle with 6 and Jones with 4.
While Doyle’s batting was not as good as his fielding, Jones managed to produce offensively as well, and technically Jones’ rookie status was still intact for this season. His WAR (Wins Above Replacement) is at 4.1, which made for third best among all MLB rookies, and he’s the first Rockies player to hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases.
Did I mention Ezequiel Tovar yet?
The shortstop may not have cannons like Doyle and Jones, but Tovar still manages to amaze on both sides of the ball. Tovar’s fielding percentage ranks 2nd best in the entire MLB. His RBI’s (73) place him at 6th best among all rookies. I forgot to add that he turned 22 this season. If that fact doesn’t make me feel like a failure, I’m not sure what would.
Regardless, the Rookie Rockies, those young guns of the outfield, Bouchard, Montero, Toglia, the rise of Ezequiel, all made the Rockies season way more exciting than their record made it seem. They provided a light at the end of the tunnel as the season grew dim.
4. The Dog Days Of Summer
The Rockies still had baseball to play. 162 games were going to be played one way or another.
Like any other season the Rockies clawed their way into the month of August having off-loaded players like Cron, Grichuk, Hand, Johnson, and Moustakas. We endured the embarrassment of a 25-1 loss to the very team we gave three of those position players to.
Now the dog days technically cover the span of July 3rd to August 11th, but as far as the Rockies season went the span from June to August felt as if the days grew longer solely because of how bad the Rockies play was.
Our record for June was 9-18.
Our record for July was 9-13 (thanks to the All-Star Break for some mercy).
Our record for August was 7-20.
The only month in which the Rockies won more than 10 games was in May, where we managed to secure an above .500 record of 15-13.
If these statistics feel repetitive it’s because they are. That’s exactly what the play becomes when a team is this consistently bad. It may come as no surprise but the Rockies led the MLB in blown leads with 53. That’s 53 separate times that at some point in the game we had a lead, and then ended up losing that game. Clearly the dog days of summer are more than a label for the hottest days of the summer, but rather an identification of the Rockies play and how grueling rooting for them was, how the nightmare only became worse.
5. The Aftermath
So, what’s left after a sad season? As noted there are plenty of positives, and some individual high points in the season that come to mind are individual accomplishments.
An Undefeated March
The Game Dinger Got Tackled
The Rise Of Ezequiel
Free Beach Towels In Exchange For A 25-1 Loss
Elias Diaz Won All-Star Game MVP
The Young Guns Of The Outfield Took Over
The Game Some Fans Tackled Acuna
The highlights of 2023 are filled with more lows than highs, but what remains is the Rockies. The franchise doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. The Monfort Brothers don’t seem to be selling anytime soon and GM Bill Schmidt will continue to linger on critical roster decisions. So for now, another season has come to a close. At least the tickets were cheap and the beer flowed freely. There were surely moments of happiness amidst the fright of the Rockies misfortunes.
We still have plenty to root for, in the most sad, masochistic way possible.
We still have Coors Field. We have cascading sunsets crashing against the mountains. We have The Rooftop; The Rockpile. We have $3 beers before the game starts. We have foot-long Rockies Dogs. We still have a massive jumbotron and the Monfort Brothers to steer our hatred towards. We have a semblance of hope that next season will be better, that reaching the 100-loss mark for the first time in the franchise’s existence will only help propel us upwards. But for now we will be parted with the remains of a torturous season where the Rockies lost more games than they ever had before, leaving behind a pain that will linger throughout the winter until the Rockies emerge ready to try once again.
*My Personal 2023 Season Record: 6-13*