These Rockies are not those Rockies.
"When people think of the Rockies, they think of an offensive juggernaut," all-star third base Nolan Arenado said recently. "But we really aren't that team anymore. We're not that team that bashes a ton of home runs or even scores a lot of runs. We're still a good team, but we're built differently."
That's for sure. But despite all of the consternation about Colorado's often tepid and inconsistent offense this season, a different approach could be very good thing as the Rockies head into the teeth of the pennant race. Their ability to produce runs on the road, and at home, without relying too heavily on home runs, could serve them well.
Last season, the Rockies were terrible on the bases. Manager Bud Black wanted them to push the envelope and steal bases, but the results were bleak. Colorado's stole just 59 bases, second to last in the National League, and their 63.4 percent stolen-base rate was the worst in the NL.
My how things have changed. Entering Wednesday night's game against San Francisco, the first-place Rockies' 87 stolen bases ranked third in the NL and their 75.7 percent rate was fifth.
"Our guys are motivated to run," Black said, singling out Charlie Blackmon, Trevor Story, Ian Desmond, DJ LeMahieu and David Dahl as threats on the bases. "There are times when I put the steal on, where I want them to go on that pitch. And there times when they know they have the green light. It's rare that I put the stop sign on, because I want us to be aggressive. I want our guys always pushing the envelope. I think that's how you apply pressure on the defense."
Story, who stole two bases Tuesday night in Colorado's 6-2 win over the Giants, has 25 stolen bases, ranking fifth in the NL. With 28 home runs, Story has become the seventh player in franchise history — the first since Carlos Gonzalez in 2010 — to have at least 25 home runs and 25 stolen bases in the same season. He is the first Rockies infielder to accomplish the feat, and a 30-30 season is certainly within his grasp.
But the Rockies' born-to-run mentality is not limited to stolen bases. They have the highest extra-base-taken rate in the majors this season at 47 percent. That statistic is defined as how often a runner advances more than one base on a single hit and more than two bases on a double, when possible.
"This time of year, when you are the attacker and you are motivated to put pressure on the opposition? I think that's great," Black said.
Desmond tabbed for Clemente Award. Desmond is Colorado' nominee for the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award, one of the most significant and prestigious individual awards in baseball. The Clemente award is given annually to a player from each club who best represents baseball "through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field."
Wednesday marked the 17th annual Roberto Clemente Day, which was established by Major League Baseball to honor Clemente’s legacy and to officially acknowledge local club nominees of the award.
Throughout his career, first with Washington, then with Texas and now the Rockies, Desmond has worked to raise awareness and funds to combat neurofibromatosis. NF is a genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow along nerve tissue, including the brain and spinal cord, affecting roughly one in 3,000 births worldwide.
“Being nominated for this award for the second straight year is a tremendous honor," Desmond said. "Roberto Clemente continues to be an inspiration to all professional baseball players, and his legacy pushes us to be positive contributors to the communities around us and those people within them who are in need."
The league-wide winner of the Roberto Clemente Award, who will be announced during the 2018 World Series, will be selected among the group of nominees via a blue ribbon panel.
Thursday: Off day
Friday: Dodgers LHP Clayton Kershaw (6-5, 2.40 ERA) at Rockies RHP Jon Gray (11-7, 4.70), 6:40 p.m., ATTRM
Saturday: Dodgers LHP Walker Buehler (6-4, 2.92) at Rockies LHP Kyle Freeland (13-7, 2.96), 6:10 p.m., ATTRM
Sunday: Dodgers LHP Alex Wood (8-6, 3.37) at Rockies LHP Tyler Anderson (6-7, 4.80), 1:10 p.m., ATTRM