The 2014 Colorado Rockies finished a season they would rather forget with a 66-96 record. At home, they were a very respectable 45-36. This is the same record as the division-leading Los Angeles Dodgers and the World Series-winning San Francisco Giants. The difference in the standings came when the Rockies took to the road.
Playing away from Coors Field in 2014, the Rockies’ road record was a major league-worst 21-60. This was only one more win than the 55-107 Houston Astros had in 2012. Not since 2011 have the Rockies won 30 games on the road in a season. After three straight dismal years on the road, things reached a low-point in 2014.
It’s no mystery why the Rockies love Coors Field so much. Hitting there is like hitting on a Little League field. Some batters may have more trouble hitting the ball out of their bathroom than they would over the fences in Denver. It still doesn’t explain why the team would be so bad on the road when the ballpark factors are equal for both teams no matter where the game takes place.
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This lack of offense seems to be contagious and non-discriminatory. The best on the team have been contaminated too.
Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki played half of the 2014 season and ended with a .340 batting average. Many thought he was well on his way to winning the National League MVP Award before injuries became an issue yet again. While he posted great overall numbers, he hit just .257 on the road – a far cry from league-leading numbers.
Most players are better hitters at home than they are on the road so we shouldn’t take that away from Tulowitzki. During his big league career, he has batted .323 at home with a .274 batting average away from Coors Field.
As an example, it’s worth seeing how other players hit at home and on the road. Through the age of 29, the three players Baseball-Reference compares Tulowitzi to most are Miguel Tejada, Hanley Ramirez and Nomar Garciaparra. These three shortstops were far more identical at home and on the road than Tulowtizki.
- Home: .324
- Road: .274
- Home: .288
- Road: .283
- Home: .301
- Road: .299
- Home: .328
- Road: .297
Those three played for multiple teams, unlike Tulowitzki who has spent his entire career with the Rockies. If anything, this is more credit to them. Garciaparra’s difference between home and road is the largest, but it’s still closer than Tulowitzki thanks to Garciaparra hitting well on the road.
Of course, Tulowitzki is not the only player on the Rockies even if it feels that way sometimes. In 2014, third baseman Nolan Arenado hit .303 at home and .269 on the road. Outfielder Corey Dickerson was a .363 hitter at Coors Field with only a .252 average as a visitor elsewhere. Even All-Star Charlie Blackmon and his breakout season were affected by this disease. Blackmon had a .305 batting average at home and was a very disappointing .241 on the road.
First baseman Justin Morneau was one of the few players on the 2014 Rockies who could provide the team with offense on the road. At home he hit .327 while on the road he was at .309. He was rewarded with a league leading .319 average and his first batting title.
Overall, the 2014 Rockies hit .322 at Coors Field with 119 home runs. When they were not the home team, they hit only .228 with 67 long-balls. In addition to this, they struck out a lot more on the road. The Rockies had 735 road strikeouts compared to 546 at home. This surplus of strikeouts on the road is alarming and means the team’s offensive woes run much deeper than a lack of home runs away from home.
On top of all of the offensive trouble this team had, the pitching staff was no help. We would expect the team’s earned run average to be higher at home along with the home runs allowed. This is indeed the case, but by a smaller margin. At home, Rockies’ pitchers had a .284 batting average against with 90 home runs. On the road they allowed a .267 batting average with 83 home runs. It seems that everyone on the 2014 Rockies preferred last-ups.
The woes for the Colorado Rockies on the road are obvious. Without a steady pitching staff capable of beating anyone from the mound, the offense is the current key for the Rockies’ success. This needs to happen as much on the road as it does at home. With the team making no notable transactions this offseason and there being no sign that matters will improve, Rockies fans may want to skip seeing their team play on the road.