Rockies improve baseball’s best road record thanks to their surprising MLB RBI leader – CBSSports.com

The dream start to the 2017 season continued Wednesday night for the
Colorado Rockies
.

Thanks to a dominant outing by right-hander
Tyler Chatwood
, the Rockies bested the
Philadelphia Phillies
at Citizens Bank Park (COL 7, PHI 2) and improved their MLB-best road record to 18-7. They lead baseball in road wins and road winning percentage. The Rockies have won four straight games overall, and they’ve outscored the Phillies 23-5 in the first three games of their four-game series.

Chatwood held Philadelphia to one hit in seven scoreless innings, striking out eight. At 27 years and 159 days, he is the oldest starting pitcher the Rockies have used this season. Their current rotation is really young and really impressive, and that’s even though staff ace
Jon Gray
has been limited to three starts by a foot injury. Never before in franchise history has Colorado had this many young power arms in the organization at once.

The Rockies broke Wednesday’s game open with
Carlos Gonzalez
‘s third-inning three-run home run against
Jeremy Hellickson
. They scored seven runs in the inning to put the game to bed early. CarGo’s swing-plus-bat drop combination is easily my favorite in baseball. It’s perfect:


Charlie Blackmon
went 1 for 5 and drove in two runs, giving him an MLB-best 42 RBI. Yes, their leadoff man leads baseball in runs batted in. That’s pretty amazing, especially since he is primarily batting behind the pitcher in the National League.

Here is the updated RBI leaderboard:

  1. Charlie Blackmon, Rockies: 42

  2. Jake Lamb
    ,
    Arizona Diamondbacks
    :
    40

  3. Ryan Zimmerman
    ,
    Washington Nationals
    :
    39

  4. Mark Reynolds
    , Rockies:
    39
  5. t-
    Bryce Harper
    , Nationals &
    Joey Votto
    ,
    Cincinnati Reds
    :
    38

As I mentioned earlier, the Rockies currently have baseball’s best road record — they are 7-2 on their current road trip with one more game remaining — and they’ve yet to lose a road series all season. That’s usually the opposite of how it goes for the Rockies. They tend to play better at home, in the extreme hitter’s environment of Coors Field, then come back to Earth out on the road. Here are the numbers this year:

  • 2017 at home: 13-10 (.565) with a plus-1 run differential
  • 2017 on the road: 18-7 (.720) with a plus-42 run differential

Now here’s how the Rockies have performed at home and on the road over the previous two seasons:

  • 2015-16 at home: 78-84 (.481) with a minus-3 run differential
  • 2015-16 on the road: 55-87 (.340) with a minus-46 run differential

Yikes! The Rockies were much better at home (though still bad overall) than on the road from 2015-16. This year it’s the exact opposite. They’ve been far better away from Coors Field.

Who is this team? The Rockies have never been this good on the road.

usatsi-10071408.jpg


The Rockies are off to the best start in franchise history thanks to leadoff hitter Charlie Blackmon.
USATSI

I’ve long believed that Coors Field is one of the biggest competitive disadvantages in baseball. It’s incredibly difficult to build a consistently reliable pitching staff at altitude, and evaluating pitchers is damn near impossible. You can scout guys and run all the analytics all day, but until you get him on a mound a mile above sea level, you have no idea how his pitches will move.

Furthermore, Coors Field creates a disadvantage for hitters too. Sure, hitting at altitude is wonderful, but coming down to sea level creates a problem too. Pitches move differently in the thin mountain air, right? Of course they do. The air is less dense, so the interaction between the air and the seams creates different spin. Well, that means the pitches look different to the hitters too. They see one set of pitches at home and an entirely different set on the road, even from the same pitchers.

Despite the Coors Field effect, the Rockies are off to the greatest start in franchise history right now, because of their strong play on the road. They’re in first place in the NL West at 31-17, the best 48-game start in team history. The previous best was the 27-21 start by the 1995 squad. A deep offense — again, their leadoff hitter leads MLB in RBI! — and a talented young rotation combined with a rebuilt bullpen gives these Rockies legitimate staying power.

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