Rockies Exceeded Projected Win Totals in 2021, Will They Do It Again Next Season?

Oddsmakers didn’t have much faith in the Rockies entering the 2021 MLB season. BetMGM Sportsbook, for example, had the Rockies at -110 on an Over/Under for wins of 63.5.

That means that if the Rockies won 64 games this season and you put $110 down on that moneyline, you would already have won $100 on your bet. As of Wednesday, the Rockies have 72 wins, far exceeding the experts projections.

Only the Pittsburgh Pirates were projected to win fewer games by BetMGM than the Rockies. How did the Rockies fool everyone? And what are the chances they can do it again in 2022?

Why The Rockies Surpassed Their Expected Win Total in 2021

We can sift through the residue of the ’21 season all we want, but there’s really no mystery to the unexpected turnaround by the Rockies this year: it’s the pitching.

In 2020, the Rockies allowed 5.88 runs per game. In 2019, the pitching staff allowed 5.91 runs per game. Both figures were far and away the worst in baseball. This season, the team has reduced that figure by essentially a full run, to 4.89 per game. That ranks ahead of four other teams in the National League, and is more in line with what the team was doing in 2017, when they won 87 games in manager Bud Black’s first year in the dugout.

How did Colorado improve their pitching so much? Well, ironically they have the same core of starting pitchers in ’21 that they had in 2020 and 2019. The difference is maturity. German Marquez, Jon Gray, Antonio Senzatela, and Kyle Freeland have simply gotten better.

In addition, the team overhauled their bullpen. The top three relievers in terms of innings in 2021 (Daniel Bard, Tyler Kinley, and Carlos Estevez) were not in the purple and black last season.

When you allow a full run less, you’ll win more games, and that’s how the Rockies have improved and exceeded their win projections in 2021.

How The Rockies May Be Better Or Worse in 2022

There’s no reason to think the pitching staff won’t be at least as good in 2022. But the Rockies will see a lot of shuffling in their lineup.

Shortstop Trevor Story, whose having a down year for him, but still provides power, will leave as a free agent. The team will need to either shift second baseman Brendan Rodgers to short, or pursue one of the top-name free agents at the position.

If second base opens up, that means third baseman Ryan McMahon could return to his traditional position. But that leaves a hole at third. Good thing the Rox have two young prospects who can duke it out for that starting job: Colton Welker or Elehuris Montero.

A concern heading into next season is production from the outfield. Charlie Blackmon, better known as “Chuck Nazty,” is growing long in the beard. He has only 13 homers this season and he’ll turn 36 next July. He hasn’t been an All-Star since 2019, and with the meager power numbers the Rockies are getting from the other two outfield spots, these are not the Blake Street Bombers any more.

Where will the oddsmakers have the Rockies next March as the season is set to begin? Most likely about 71 wins will be the O/U for this team. Of course, any free agents or trade acquisitions could move that number. But given the young, talented pitching core, I think the team would be a good choice to fool experts again next season.

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