Colorado Rockies' best-case and worst-case scenarios for 2024 season

Sep 11, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Kyle Freeland (21) pitches in
Sep 11, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Kyle Freeland (21) pitches in / Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Rockies will be fun to watch in 2024. Even when they’re bad – which they assuredly will be this season – the Rockies do interesting stuff.

Stuff like giving up a 14 runs in a single inning, which they did Friday night in Arizona. That’s Rockies entertainment – slapstick entertainment, yes, but different. And the Rocks do have some guys who can hit, just not well enough to keep up with what for the second straight season was baseball’s worst pitching staff.

Best-case scenario for 2024 Rockies

Colorado’s regular nine has lots of potential. Elias Diaz is a veteran catcher enjoying a late arrival to stardom. Entering his age 33 season, he made the All-Star team in 2023 and delivered the game’s winning home run.

Nolan Jones won a starting role in the outfield in 2023 and hit .297 with 20 homers. At 26, he’s back for a full season with mid-order credentials.

The Rockies believe first baseman Elehuris Montero and outfielder Brenton Doyle both have star potential. Both got their first taste of big-league life in 2023, and although neither rolled up impressive offensive numbers, Doyle was a defensive sensation in center field.

Finally, of course, Kris Bryant is back, embarking on Year 3 of his seven-year paid vacation in Denver. Perhaps this is the season Bryant finally remains healthy enough to produce something in return for his $28 million salary. Bryant will be shifted from the outfield to first base, the assumption being that whatever he does has to be better than the .233/.313/.367 slash line he produced in 80 games in 2023.

Worst-case scenario for 2024 Rockies

The Rockies not only were last in runs allowed per game (5.9) in 2023, but they were also 18th in runs scored per game, a stat that is borderline criminal at Coors Field. Among regulars, only Jones and Charlie Blackmon topped .753 in OPS.

And the returning cast is largely the same crew that flopped offensively last season. What changes there will be largely amount to moving the deck chairs; Bryant from right field to first, Montero from first to DH, Blackmon from DH back to the outfield.

Brendan Rodgers is promised a full shot at second base this season, but he’ll have to do better than his .258 average, .700 OPS and negative defensive stats for that shift to be meaningful.

If the offense doesn’t pick up, the Rockies are a good bet to push the franchise record of 103 losses they set last season.

In Colorado’s eternal search for pitching, GM Bill Schmidt jettisoned three-fifths of the 2023 rotation. But only the most pollyannish Rockies fan expects the replacements to be much better, if at all.

The new faces include Cal Quantrill, Ryan Feltner and Dakota Hudson. Together they were 13-14 with a 5.26 ERA in 2023. They join holdovers Kyle Freeland and Austin Gomber, who were 15-23 with a 5.26 ERA. Barring a fairly miraculous upgrade, runs should once again be cheap for visitors to the mountains.

Most realistic scenario

It would be nice to seek help from the farm system, but that isn’t likely. The Rockies have only one Top 100 prospect higher than Double-A, that being outfielder Jordan Beck (No. 79). For the short-term, then, Rockies fans have to hope for a renaissance from Bryant, a solid emergence to stardom on the parts of Jones, Doyle and Montero, and for productive seasons from the few predictable pieces, Blackmon, Ryan McMahon and Ezequiel Tovar.

This is probably a pivotal season for Rockies leadership. Field manager Bud Black, 67,  begins his eighth season riding a string of five straight losing records. If that isn’t a recipe for being a fall guy, I don’t know what is.  

GM Schmidt is in his fourth season. As measured by the net Wins Above Average of his personnel transactions, the Rockies are a cumulative 17 games worse entering 2024 than the team Schmidt inherited from his predecessor, Jeff Bridich. Under Schmidt’s direction, they have yet to finish a season better than 16 games short of postseason qualification, landing fourth, fifth and fifth in the NL West.

Absent some sort of unexpected improvement, another last place finish accompanied by a leadership shakeup at season’s end, if not before, seems inevitable.  

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