The Colorado Rockies record home-road splits

Aug 5, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Daniel Bard (52) and left fielder Raimel Tapia (15) celebrate after defeating the Chicago Cubs at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 5, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Daniel Bard (52) and left fielder Raimel Tapia (15) celebrate after defeating the Chicago Cubs at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

The Colorado Rockies are two-thirds of the way to the strangest home-road record in Major League history.

With their 6-5 victory Thursday over the Chicago Cubs at Coors Field, the Rockies are now 48-61 on the season. But that record alone tells almost nothing about how the Rockies have played…and more specifically where they have played.

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Simply put, Colorado is on pace to finish the season as the most home-oriented team in history.

The victory over Chicago Thursday was Colorado’s 35th at Coors Field against just 21 defeats. That’s a .625 winning percentage. If the Rockies played all their games at Coors, they would be the second best team in baseball, trailing only the San Francisco Giants (69-40, .633).

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That, of course, is not how the schedule works. At any field other than Coors, the Rockies are a dreadful 13-40 through 53 road games. That’s a .245 winning percentage, a massive 380 percentage point home-road difference.

If the Rockies played all their games on the road, they would be baseball’s worst team by so large a margin that CSI Denver would be activated to locate the corpse.

The only team ever to compile a wider home-road disparity was the Houston Astros (.433 points), but they did it in the Covid-marred, statistically questionable 2020 season. For any normal season, the all-time record was set by the 1945 Philadelphia Athletics. That Connie Mack-led team was 39-35 (.527) at home but a miserable 13-63 (.171) at home, a 356 point home-road disparity.

The Rockies have 25 home games remaining, offset by 28 road games. If they perform at their present home-road paces, they will finish the season with 16 wins in those 26 Coors starts, but only seven victories elsewhere.

That would result in a .617 winning percentage at Coors but only a .247 percentage on the road, a 370 percentage point home-road disparity. That would beat the 1945 Athletics’ record by 14 percentage points.

As with everything related to the Colorado Rockies, it’s easy to point to Coors Field as the root cause. There is some measure of truth in that. The Rockies have pretty routinely played better at Coors than on the road. In fact, only twice in the team’s history has Colorado won more on the road than at home. The first time was in 1994 – no need to go into detail about that season – and the second was the Covid-stricken 2020 season.

Still, for the five most recent full seasons, the team’s home-road differential has only averaged about 90 percentage points. That’s meaningful, but it pales against the 370 point home-road gap they’re headed toward this season.

A deeper explanation is required, and it’s provided by the home-road splits of several of Colorado’s regulars.

  • First baseman C.J. Cron has had just five more plate appearances at home than on the road. Yet he has a dozen more hits and nine fewer strikeouts, resulting in a home slash line of .281/.380/.575 versus a road slash line of .207/.325/.307.
  • Third baseman Ryan McMahon has a .293/.358/.520 home slash line. His road numbers are .234/.312/.425.
  • Center fielder Raimel Tapia has just 10 more home plate appearances. Yet he has 11 more home hits and 14 fewer home strikeouts. His home slash line is .315/.366/.488. On the road Tapia is a far less menacing figure: .267/.320/.298.
  • Perhaps no offensive player illustrates the Rockies dichotomy better than Garrett Hampson. At home, Hampson has 51 hits in 179 plate appearances, with a .310 batting average. On the road Hampson has produced just 25 hits – that’s literally half as many in virtually the same number of plate appearances. He has fanned 23 more times, and his .160/.210/.250 slash line would get him banished to Triple-A or lower.
  • Rotation starters Antonio Senzatela and Austin Gomber are the mound doppelgangers of Hampson. At Coors Senzatela’s 11 starts have averaged six innings with a 3.79 ERA. But on the road he’s winless (0-5) with a 6.03 ERA, averaging less than five innings per start.
  • Gomber, acquired for Nolan Arenado before the season began, is an impressive 4-1 in seven home starts, his ERA sitting at an All-Starish 1.98. He’s allowed just 20 hits and 11 walks in 36 home innings.
  • But in 11 road starts, Gomber is Hyde to his Coors Field Jekyll. He’s 4-5 with a 5.40 ERA, having allowed 53 hits and 17 walks in 55 innings. That’s a .853 WHIP at home, soaring to 1.273 elsewhere.

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The Colorado Rockies have figured out how to win at home. Now they need to find a way to have that success carry over on the road as well.