DENVER | Hampered by a sore left shoulder, Nolan Arenado couldn’t carry the Colorado Rockies to the postseason.
Don’t be surprised to hear his name surface in offseason trade rumors.
The All-Star third baseman never found his groove in the shortened season before going on the injured list for the final week. And while his team started 11-3, the Rockies couldn’t sustain the momentum.
Colorado went 15-31 the rest of the way, which was the lowest winning percentage in the majors over that span.
This on the heels of a 71-90 mark a year ago, which led Arenado to call out the front office over the winter about needing more talent.
By his standards, it was a quiet season for Arenado. He hit .253 with eight homers.
The 29-year-old Arenado has an opt-out clause after next season on his eight-year, $260 million deal. General manager Jeff Bridich may listen to offers to see what the market value is on a player who’s captured seven straight Gold Gloves.
“I’d assume there’s going to be some changes,” said Arenado, who played with the aching shoulder most of the season. “This season was a learning experience, that I need to get better and need to grow as a player.”
The Rockies batted a collective .257, the second-worst mark in team history. The team finished 17 games back of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who captured their eighth straight NL West title.
They were missing Ian Desmond after he opted out due to the coronavirus and David Dahl was limited due to injuries.
“We have really good players. But it hasn’t equated to wins the last two seasons like we thought it would,” shortstop Trevor Story said. “It’s hard to say exactly where to go, or what to do, or who to add and things like that. But I’ll always have confidence in the group we have here.”
The lineup featured plenty of bright spots, with Raimel Tapia emerging as a fine leadoff hitter and Josh Fuentes hitting .306 in taking over first-base duties from Daniel Murphy.
Charlie Blackmon started out red-hot at the plate — hitting .500 on Aug. 11 — before cooling off and finishing at .303.
Starting pitchers German Marquez, Kyle Freeland and Antonio Senzatela were a pleasant surprise in combining for 24 quality starts.
“The core starters and that core starting nine that’s put out there on a regular basis is a team that can do extraordinary things,” Freeland said. “You can talk all you want about it how great Trevor Story is, how great Nolan is … but it always falls back on our shoulders. We have to go out there every single day and get the job done. It can’t just be talked about on paper. It has to be executed.”
Colorado spent a combined $106 million on three-year deals for relievers Bryan Shaw, Jake McGee and Wade Davis before the 2018 season. Shaw and McGee were let go in July and Davis was waived in September.
BULLPEN BRIGHT SPOT
One of the feel-good stories of the season was the return of reliever Daniel Bard. He hadn’t pitched in the majors since 2013 after dealing with control and confidence issues. Bard became a valuable part of the bullpen. He finished 6 for 6 in saves chances.
FIRST AND FOREMOST
Fuentes may have played his way into a bigger role at first base. Fuentes, who’s the cousin of Arenado, made just one error. In the past, he’s typically been a third baseman.
“He’s becoming his own player,” Story said. “It’s so special to see that.”
There’s some chatter about moving hard-throwing righty Jon Gray to a reliever’s role next season. His season was cut short with shoulder trouble.
Gray has a 45-37 record with a 4.59 ERA since being taken with the third-overall pick in 2013.
“It’s safe to say from my perspective Jon is much more valuable in the rotation,” Rockies manager Bud Black said.
QUITE A STORY
Story finished with 11 homers and 15 stolen bases through the 60-game season. Factor that out over a typical 162-game season and it would’ve put him close to a 30-homer, 40-steal sort of campaign.
“You can project out, but until you actually see the numbers on paper you don’t feel like you did it,” Story said. “It’s something to build on for next year.”