Despite a Rocky Few Years, the Colorado Rockies Are Legitimate Contenders

The Rockies have spent their last few years building up a roster and are armed to the teeth for the upcoming MLB season

Colorado Rockies’ star 3B Nolan Arenado (ESPN)

For years, the Rockies have floated around mediocrity. To call them a World Series contender would come as a surprise to many, as their last winning season was 2010. Make no mistake though — the Rockies are ready to ruin the Cubs’ hopes of a dynasty and shock the baseball world.

The Rockies have never won a division title. They have advanced past the first round of the postseason once in their 24 years of play. Just last year, the Rockies finished the season with a record of 75–87 due to an epic collapse which cost them a chance at the postseason. There were, however, signs pointing to a leap to relevancy.

The Rockies posted winning records against the top two teams in the National League (Cubs and Nationals). They also had a winning record against the Mets, the top Wild Card team. The Rockies ranked in the top three in batting average, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage.

The Rockies have a strong farm system, with three prospects that rank in the top 40. Brendan Rodgers, the third overall choice in the 2015 draft, is the star of the group. Rodgers smashed 19 home runs last year at the low-A level and ranks as the 16th overall prospect by Baseball America. Not far behind Rodgers is Jeff Hoffman, the big return from the Troy Tulowitzki trade. Hoffman, who ranks as the 36th prospect by Baseball America, can hit 99 mph with his fastball and is looking to crack the rotation this year.

Offensively, the Rockies will likely be the top team in the major leagues. Nolan Arenado led the league in RBIs, earned his second straight Silver Slugger, and his fourth consecutive Gold Glove. Carlos Gonzalez hit .324 and hit 29 home runs, while DJ LeMahieu led the league with a .348 batting average. David Dahl, the Rockies’ first-round pick from 2012 burst on the scene, hitting .315 and scoring 42 times. This offensive core will enable the Rockies to play deep into October.

One problem the Rockies have struggled with for a long time, though, is pitching. The rotation, however, in 2017 will be the best rotation the Rockies have assembled in a long time. Tyler Anderson is fresh off a season in which he had a sparkling 3.54 ERA across 19 starts. Tyler Chatwood had the best season of his career, winning 12 games and pitching to a 3.87 ERA. Jon Gray is a popular breakout candidate as well after striking out 185 over 168 innings, including a 16-strikeout masterpiece in September. The Rockies also added Mike Dunn and Greg Holland, giving Colorado two experienced arms that they can rely on in crunch time.

The Rockies still have to play in a division that features Madison Bumgarner and Clayton Kershaw. Their young pitchers will undoubtedly struggle at times at the most hitter-friendly park in the MLB. Unlike in past years, though, these issues will not plague the Rockies. This is finally the year that Colorado is able to emerge and shed the cellar-dweller moniker. It’s going to be quite a rocky road if another franchise wants a shot at the NL West.