Category Archives: Colorado Rockies Store

Matt Nokes Jersey

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Schaumburg, Illinois has no shortage of spectacle. A cursory Google search reveals that this suburb of Chicago has an indoor water park, an Ikea, and a Rainforest Cafe all stuffed within its city limits. But despite all of those commercial pleasures, I can’t imagine any of them fill the gaping spiritual hole left by the dissolution in 2010 of the crown jewel of Schaumburg: the Schaumburg Flyers, formerly of the independent Northern League, and formerly player-coached by Matt Nokes.

Nokes, as I’m sure you degenerates all know, was an All-Star once in his rookie campaign with the Tigers and then proceeded to slowly fade out of the Majors before tearing up the Northern League at the end of his career. A fun Matt Nokes story: While in the Minors, Nokes apparently flew his own plane to road games to avoid slumming it on the bus with his teammates. Via the Chicago Tribune:

While his Schaumburg teammates ride buses to such far-flung league cities as Sioux Falls, Fargo and Winnipeg, Nokes pilots his Lancair IV P aircraft—a four-seater with a pressurized cabin.

Nokes attributes his uncommon method of minor-league travel for his batting average hovering near .370 this season.

“I have not been on the bus yet,” Nokes said. “I’m definitely more rested. I fly the fastest single-engine plane in the world. Our longest trip is to Winnipeg [856 miles], and I make it in less than three hours.

I won’t lie to you: There are somehow only four Guys remembered in this week’s episode, including Matt Nokes. That’s isn’t because we skimped on length. Rather, Roth got sidetracked with long tangents not just about Schaumburg, but also—improbably—Neptune, New Jersey’s tendency to crank out Danny Devitos (plural). All that, and I still haven’t even mentioned Barry Lyons’s incredible chest hair. You can check that out for yourself.

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This truth is worth repeating when you worry about Ryan Castellani’s struggles in a repeat trip to Double-A in 2018: he was (and still is) just 22 the whole season, 2.4 years younger than the league on average and only four months older than Brady Singer, the #18 overall pick in the 2018 draft. If he’d have gone the college route instead of signing as Colorado’s 2nd round pick in 2014 for $1.1 million, Castellani might only now be emerging from short season ball.

With that said, Castellani had a tough 2018 in Hartford that knocked him off the smooth prospect path he had enjoyed up until that point. Indeed, 2018 was the first year that Castellani had repeated a level. Before 2018, Castellani had posted four straight seasons with a FIP below 4.00 and had led his league in both innings pitched and strikeouts in 2016 and 2017 while being the youngest ERA qualifier at each level. Something seemed off about Castellani in Spring Training though, and the Rockies sent him back to Double-A to figure it out. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like that happened.

Castellani made 26 starts in 2018, only one fewer than he did at the level in 2017, but he threw 23 fewer innings in those starts (134 1⁄3 total), almost an inning less per start. His ERA was 5.49 (up from 4.81) and his FIP was 5.21 (up from 3.99), while the K/9 (6.1 vs. 7.6) and BB/9 (4.7 vs. 2.7) rates were both worse compared to the prior year as well. It was an up and down season. Castellani had a 2.05 ERA through April but he had a terrible May (8.33 ERA), followed by an average June (4.30 ERA) and an awful July (7.98 ERA). Castellani settled down for a serviceable 3.57 ERA in August before a poor start to end the season in September.

Castellani was then selected for the Arizona Fall League, where he posted a 5.13 ERA over 7 starts in which he accumulated 26 1⁄3 innings with a nice 10.6 K/9 rate and a still elevated 4.8 BB/9 rate.

Here’s some video of Castellani in the AFL, courtesy of 2080 Baseball:

In the report accompanying the above video, Adam McInturff of 2080 Baseball provides insights on Castellani based on AFL viewings, including more granular grades on each of his offerings. It’s…not positive. Here was his conclusion for Castellani:

Physical frame and flashes of hard sinker/slider combo give raw ingredients of 7th inning setup reliever, but has a ways to go w/ control and overall pitchability to make an impact at ML level.

In their recent write-up of Colorado’s system, Baseball Prospectus left Castellani out of the system’s top 15. Their thoughts on him were not optimistic:

The vagaries of the schedule meant I didn’t catch Castellani until the last couple weeks of the season, but he again looked liked a different pitcher, in not in a good way. His slot was higher, his arm action more rigid. Gone was the athletic delivery that garnered physical comps to Max Scherzer. There was more effort to sit 89-91, the slider was slurvier, and he just didn’t look right. You’d catch glimpses of the 2017 top prospect—a fastball that bored in under a lefty’s hands, a mid-80s slider with late tilt, but if you only saw him last year, you wouldn’t be filing him as an acquire. Twenty-three in Double-A, even as a double repeater, isn’t a prospect death sentence. But pitchers, man.

FanGraphs put Castellani 6th in the system with a 45 FV tag in May:

Neither Castellani’s stuff nor his command were crisp this spring, and he was knocked around in big-league games then sent to repeat Double-A, where his strike-throwing issues have continued. If he bounces back he could be a No. 4, if not he’ll be a three-pitch reliever.

It should be noted that the FanGraphs guys also saw Castellani in the AFL and had more positive reports on him there than 2080 did (take a listen on this podcast for more, starting at the 66 minute mark).

MLB.com currently has Castellani 10th in the system:

Castellani’s fastball sat around 90 mph in high school but now runs from 92-97 mph with arm-side run and sink that should help him deal with Coors Field. When he doesn’t get around his low-80s slider, he shows the ability to throw it for strikes and to back-foot it against left-handers. His fading changeup slipped a little in 2017 but can be a solid pitch when he maintains his arm speed and slot when he throws it.

Colorado officials compare his less-than-smooth mechanics to Max Scherzer’s, and like the three-time Cy Young Award winner in his younger days, Castellani’s biggest need is consistent command. He had repeated his delivery well and thrown strikes in the past, but inconsistency with his mechanics has led to his struggles in 2018. He’s still just 22, so he has plenty of time to turn things around.

The above evaluation is highlighted by 60 fastball and 55 slider grades, accompanied by 50 change-up and 50 control evaluations. Given Castellani’s recent struggles, those may be outdated at this point, but it’s still a compelling repertoire that has starter potential.

Obviously this year’s step back has been discouraging for Castellani. Something isn’t quite right with the 6’4” righty and we can only hope he will recover his prior form. He’s got some mechanical issues that need to be worked out, but if he does he’s a solid bet to be a starter at the Major League level, likely in 2020. It’s likely that Castellani will start 2019 in Hartford again, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he climbed the ladder to Triple-A quickly.

Given his 40 man roster slot (secured after the 2018 season), it’s possible Castellani sees big league time this year, but if he does it’s because of either a massive injury calamity or a fantastic breakout campaign. Despite the bumps this year, I’m still a believer in Castellani’s potential as a starter, which is why I ranked him 9th in the system with a 45 Future Value tag as a number 4 starter.

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The Colorado Rockies announced on Friday that they have not retained the services of their bullpen coach/assistant pitching coach Darren Holmes. They have replaced him with one of their minor league pitching coordinators, Darryl Scott.

Steve Merriman, who spent the 2019 season as the pitching coach for Double-A Hartford, will replace Scott in his minor league pitching coordinator role.

As the Rockies press release states, Scott has been in the Rockies organization as a pitching coach or a pitching coordinator since 2009. He has been a MiLB pitching coordinator since 2017, after he spent the previous two seasons as the pitching coach in Triple-A Albuquerque.

In his playing career, he got a cup of coffee with the then-named California Angels in 1993, in which he pitched in 13 games. Other than that, he spent 1990-2000 with six different MLB organizations and a season over in Japan.

He spent parts of two seasons (1995, 2000) with the Rockies organization at the Triple-A level when their Triple-A affiliate was in Colorado Springs.

As for Holmes, 53, he had been the Rockies bullpen coach since the start of the 2015 season. It was his first coaching role with a team. However, he spent the 2014 season in the Atlanta Braves organization as a “biomechanics pitching consultant.”

Holmes spent part of 13 seasons at the major league level as a reliever, including part of five seasons with the Rockies, which was the organization that he played the most in. In fact, he was one of the original Colorado Rockies as he played with the Rockies from 1993-1997.

Perhaps Holmes could find himself as a coach with his former teammate, Joe Girardi, who is the Phillies new manager. Reportedly, Girardi is considering his former Rockies teammate, Dante Bichette, as one of the team’s hitting coaches.

Yonathan Daza Jersey

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Purple Row might not agree on everything, but the 32-member Purple Row Prospect list electorate was unanimous in their decree that Yonathan Daza deserved a place in the system’s top 30, the first such player (out of 13) to be revealed in the preseason 2019 version of the list. He’s also the player on this list who has by far (about 3 years) the longest tenure in the Rockies organization, having been signed way back in late 2010 out of Venezuela.

It’s been a tough road for Daza, who took almost eight years as a prospect to even make his first PuRPs list. The road began with a year in the Dominican academy after signing followed by three full campaigns in the Dominican Summer League, and only in the last of these seasons did Daza produce a line better than league average. As a result, by the time Daza finished his stateside debut in 2014, a successful campaign in which Daza hit .370 and posted a 137 wRC+ with Grand Junction, he was nearly Rule 5 eligible. The Rockies didn’t protect him from Rule 5 after a 2015 season in which he demolished Short Season A (218 wRC+ in 72 PAs) and held his own in Low A (106 wRC+ in 279 PAs over two separate stints). They didn’t protect him from Rule 5 after Daza proved the previous year wasn’t a fluke in Low A (115 wRC+ in 516 PAs) with a brief High A cameo in 2016.

Only when the Rockies were forced to choose between losing Daza to minor league free agency or giving him a 40 man roster slot after the 2017 season did Colorado bring Daza into their long-term plans. Of course, Daza no doubt had a lot to do with that change of mind, as he made dramatic improvements to his physique and game during that 2016-17 off-season. This hard work paid off with his best season as a pro in 2017, a 126 wRC+ campaign in Lancaster in which he hit .341/.376/.466 with 48 extra base hits and 31 steals out of 39 attempts in 569 PAs. He then tacked on a successful Arizona Fall League coda to the season in which he hit .318/.333/.379 against other top prospects.

In 2018, Daza got his first taste of Double-A after the better part of a decade as a professional. Unfortunately, hamstring injuries led to multiple DL stints in May, June, and July and ended his season in late July. As a silver lining, Daza actually accumulated 27 days of MLB service time in 2018 as the Rockies needed an extra 40 man roster slot in their stretch run this past September and put him on the 60 day DL. He did recover enough to play in the Venezuelan Winter League, where he hit .296 in 21 games.

In the 54 games he was actually able to participate in at an age-appropriate level in Double-A, Daza again surpassed the .300 mark, something he’s done each year he’s played in the US. Over 228 PAs, Daza hit .306/.330/.461 with 24 extra base hits for Hartford, good for a 118 wRC+. As he has done throughout his minor league career, Daza didn’t strike out much (10.5% of PA) but neither did he walk much (3.1% of PAs). In fact, Daza is the anti-Three True Outcomes hitter with only 4 homers to add to those low K/BB numbers.

Here’s video of Daza from July 2018 courtesy of 2080 Baseball

Bobby DeMuro of Baseball Census has additional video of Daza from this Lancaster days within his Daza write-up from this preseason 2018 report, well worth reading in its entirety.

Baseball Prospectus has been Daza’s most prominent champions of late, and their placement of him at 9th in the system recently is no exception. Here’s Jeffrey Paternostro on Daza:

He’s a quick-twitch athlete, a plus runner who’s a steady defender in center field, and he shows enough arm for right. His bat needs to take a step forward to get him over the hump from fourth outfielder to starter, though.

Daza’s swing is loose—in a good way—with quick wrists. It’s bat speed over barrel control at present. He has the raw physical tools for average hit, but struggles with spin and his general aggressiveness at the plate looks ripe for exploitation by major-league arms. There’s enough strength and loft—he’ll put a charge in a mistake—to project average power, but you wonder how much of that he will get into games against elite pitching.

Daza currently ranks 18th in MLB.com’s organizational roundup:

Daza is a gifted hitter with a knack for serving line drives to the opposite field. His approach yields very little home run power, however, and the ease with which he makes contact cuts into his walk totals. He has gotten faster as he has firmed up his body and now has plus speed and some basestealing acumen.

While there’s some question whether Daza can make enough offensive impact to warrant playing every day at the big league level, his speed and defensive ability give him value as a fourth outfielder. He’s the best center-field defender in the system, with his quick first step and fine instincts allowing him to cover plenty of ground. He also has the strongest outfield arm among Rockies farmhands, enabling him to play all three spots.

The 24-year old Daza represents a rarity in Colorado’s system — an honest to goodness right-handed hitting outfield prospect. More important than handedness is Daza’s status as likely the organization’s best defensive outfielder. If you believe MLB.com’s evaluation, he possesses a 70 arm and plus speed, as well as a 55 hit tool. Certainly there are also warts with the profile, most notably a lack of power, concerns that the hit tool won’t play as well against more advanced pitching, and the fact that he only got to Double-A as a 24-year old.

Still, put it all together and you get a very likely (again, right-handed!) MLB 4th outfielder with the potential to be a big league regular if the defense and hit tool both play up. That’s a valuable package and a big reason why I ranked Daza 11th on my personal list with a 40+ Future Value. Even if Daza just becomes a poor man’s version of Raimel Tapia (to whom I’ve previously compared Daza) or even just a rich man’s Noel Cuevas, that’s a big win for a prospect who a year or two ago was on his way out of pro ball altogether.

Daza finds himself on the outside of the 2019 Major League roster picture and may be ticketed for a return engagement to Hartford to begin his second option year. I see him ascending to Triple-A before too long in 2019 though, where in September his speed and defense would make him a good stretch run call-up. He’ll be competing for “right-handed outfield reserve” reps with Cuevas and I think this year that’s a competition Daza will win.

Raimel Tapia Jersey

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Raimel Tapia was one of the most polarizing prospects in recent memory. Prior to the 2014 season, the Purple Row community voted Tapia as the number 16 PuRP in the system, right behind Jason Aquino and ahead of Sam Moll. Drew Creasman, writing for Purple Row at the time, was more or less the only one around here to latch on to his potential. Other national writers took note though, too. In that same round of prospect evaluation, Baseball Prospectus ranked Tapia the Rockies third best prospect, which was much higher than other outlets. He even cracked their top 101 list. Over time, evaluators began to agree that Tapia was a legitimate top 100 guy. But a question continued to linger: Will be he able to hit major league pitching?

Six years later, that question remains. From 2016 to 2018, Tapia saw some major league action off and on, to pretty lackluster results — .274/.315/.404 in a total of 239 plate appearances (it still blows my mind Tapia only got 27 PAs in 2018). 2019 differed in that 1) he was out of options so the Rockies had to keep him on the active roster all season, and 2) he got a decent amount of playing time because of it.

The results were similarly lackluster, which is why we’re writing this article in early October rather than early November. Tapia hit. 275/.309/.415 in 447 plate appearances, nearly double the number he got in the previous three seasons. If you wanted to shop around for the best adjusted batting line, it would be DRC+’s 80 — 20 percent below league average (wRC+ had him at 73, OPS+ 74). He hit a couple of pinch hit grand slams, but that’s not really something you can put on your résumé under “Skills.”

Tapia did seem to hold his own in the outfield, which was nice to see. Statcast’s Outs Above Average had him in the 67th percentile, which is above average and bordering on the “very good.” That’s a positive, but he would really need to hit better to justify a starting spot.

From my perspective, it’s not clear where Tapia stands going into 2019. The outfielder in his way for much of the beginning of the season was Ian Desmond. If the Rockies choose to deploy Desmond in a platoon role, Tapia might sound like a natural partner — until you realize Tapia didn’t hit righties all that much better than Desmond (.274/.312/.422).

And yet, Nick Groke of The Athletic is writing as if Tapia is being penciled in as the starting left fielder in 2020. While I don’t dislike the idea, it doesn’t give me confidence. That’s because, nearly 7 years after Tapia broke into the prospect scene with his polarizing batting stance, I still don’t know if he can hit major league pitching.

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This afternoon we are treated to not just one but two bonus baseball games. Games 163 between the Cubs and Brewers in Chicago and the Dodgers and Rockies in Los Angeles.

It’s the eighth and ninth Game 163s since baseball moved to the three-division/wild card format. It’s the first Game 163s that do not involve a win-or-go-home scenario, as all four teams will be in the postseason. All that’s left to decide is which two teams are the Wild Card teams — the losers — and which teams will go on to the NLDS. Seeding and home field advantage is also at issue, of course.

The Cubs won the season series from Milwaukee, 11-8, but the Brewers won seven of the final ten in the series, including four of their final six which allowed them to catch up to the Cubs despite being five games back on Labor Day. Momentum clashes with dominance, however, as Jose Quintana will be on the hill for the Cubs, and he has been fantastic against the Brewers in 2018. Quintana faced Milwaukee six times in 2018, allowing only nine earned runs in 37.1 innings (2.17 ERA) while striking out 33 and walking ten. The Brewers have yet to announce who will get the start for them, but it would not be shocking if they turned it into a bullpen game. UPDATE: Nope, Jhoulys Chacin will start for the Brewers.

In Los Angeles, rookie Walker Buehler will face off against German Marquez. Both these guys had exceptional second halves, with Buehler posting a 2.21 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 89/21 in 73.1 innings over 12 starts. Buehler has faced the Rockies five times in 2018. He’s 0-1 with a 2.61 ERA in those starts. Marquez has been lights-out since the break as well, putting up a 2.55 ERA while striking out 115 dudes and walking only 18 batters in 88.1 innings over 13 starts. Marquez has faced off against the Dodgers three times, winning two of those games, with a 2.57 ERA. Both L.A. and Colorado have who they want on the mound, that’s for sure.

The first contest, between Milwaukee and Chicago, gets underway from Wrigley Field at 1:05 PM today. The second, between the Rockies and the Dodgers, starts at 4:05 PM. Both games will be on ESPN. Buckle up.

Nolan Arenado Jersey

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Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado will reportedly be paid a record-breaking amount before he even hits free agency, as the team announced its reached an eight-year contract extension with its star third baseman.

Jeff Passan of ESPN first reported the eight-year offer from the National League West team, and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic noted it is worth $260 million with a full no-trade clause and opt-out after three seasons.

Passan provided additional details:

Bob Nightengale of USA Today also reported the extension plans, noting it will replace the contract that was set to pay him $26 million this year. The new deal will break Miguel Cabrera’s $31 million record for annual salary for a position player.

Arenado has been with the Rockies his entire six-year career and didn’t seem in a hurry to leave, per Nightengale:

“It’s such a great place. I really enjoy the fact there’s a comfortability here. You know the coaches. You know the players. Some of my best friends are on this team.

“I grew up here in this organization, so it feels like home in a way. I’ve been here since the tide has changed, and that’s a really good feeling. I was part of that change.

“You want to win in a place where you’ve been all of your life.”

Locking down Arenado makes sense. He’s the face of the franchise and is just 27 years old with plenty of time remaining in his prime. He is a four-time Silver Slugger, four-time All-Star and six-time Gold Glover, and is one of the league’s best two-way players.

Colorado reached the playoffs the last two seasons in large part because of his presence.

Arenado has played at least 156 games in each of the last four years and averaged 40 home runs and 126 RBI per season in that span.

Signing this extension also allows him to avoid free agency, which has been slow to develop this offseason for notable names such as Bryce Harper, Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel. Each is still unsigned with spring training games underway.

Wade Davis Jersey

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Wade Davis is Professor of Anthropology and the BC Leadership Chair in Cultures and Ecosystems at Risk at the University of British Columbia. Between 1999 and 2013 he served as Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society and is currently a member of the NGS Explorers Council and Honorary Vice-President of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. A writer, photographer and filmmaker, Davis holds degrees in anthropology and biology and received his Ph.D. in ethnobotany, all from Harvard University. He spent over three years in the Amazon and Andes as a plant explorer, while making some 6000 botanical collections. His work later took him to Haiti to investigate folk preparations implicated in the creation of zombies, an assignment that led to his writing The Serpent and the Rainbow, an international best seller later released by Universal as a motion picture. In recent years his work has taken him to East Africa, Borneo, Nepal, Peru, Polynesia, Tibet, Mali, Benin, Togo, New Guinea, Australia, Colombia, Vanuatu, Mongolia, Nunuvut and Greenland.

Davis is author of 280 scientific and popular articles and 20 books including One River, The Wayfinders, and Into the Silence. His photographs have appeared in 30 books and over 100 magazines. He was the co-curator of The Lost Amazon, first exhibited at Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. In 2012 he served as guest curator of No Strangers at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles. His many film credits include Light at the Edge of the World, an eight-hour documentary series written and produced for the National Geographic. Davis has lectured at over 200 universities and 250 corporations and professional associations. In 2009 he delivered the CBC Massey Lectures. He has spoken from the main stage at TED five times, and his posted talks have been viewed by over 4 million. His books have appeared in 20 languages.

Davis is the recipient of 11 honorary degrees, as well as the 2009 Gold Medal from the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, the 2011 Explorers Medal, the 2012 David Fairchild Medal for botanical exploration, the 2013 Ness Award from the Royal Geographical Society, and the 2015 Centennial Medal from Harvard University. His recent book, Into the Silence, received the 2012 Samuel Johnson prize, the top award for literary nonfiction in the English language. In 2016 he was made a Member of the Order of Canada.

Larry Walker Jersey

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It is Larry Walker’s final year on the Hall of Fame ballot. After achieving 54.6% of the vote on 2019’s ballot, another 20% of voters will need to be convinced to send him to Cooperstown.

While plenty of Colorado Rockies fans may try to tell you different, I am here today to let you know that Walker has not met the criteria to join baseball greats like Harold Baines in Cooperstown.

1997 was Walker’s best season and the one in which he won his only Most Valuable Player award. Walker mashed to the tune of a .366/.452/.720 batting line for the Rockies that year, which was good for a 177 wRC+. His 9.8 bWAR represented the greatest single season in Rockies history, and his 99 extra-base hits were third in team history (Todd Helton eclipsed the 100 mark twice in both 2000 and 2001). After tallying 33 stolen bases, Walker’s season became the only .700 slugging percentage/30 stolen base season in MLB history.

It was one remarkable season, but this isn’t the Hall of One MVP. Can you imagine if we let one-time MVPers like Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron, Tris Speaker, Eddie Collins, Rickey Henderson and Lefty Grove in? As a firm #KeepTheHallSmall advocate, I believe we should only vote for legends, even if they’ve never won an MVP. Like Derek Jeter. And if you’ve only won a single MVP award, what kind of legend is that?
Reason #2: Might like hockey more than baseball

It’s no secret that Walker is a big hockey fan. I was considering giving him a pass for this, as he is Canadian after all. But does he like hockey more than baseball?

By using the advanced search feature on Twitter.com, I was able to compare Walker’s tweets about baseball on his account, @Cdnmooselips33, to his tweets about hockey. Take this tweet, for example:

Of particular interest to me was the phrase, “Hockey rules!” To see if the same sentiment was shared for the sport of baseball, I once again used Twitter’s advanced search feature to see if Walker ever used the phrase, “Baseball rules!” And here’s what I found:

The character clause in the Hall of Fame is admittedly a bit subjective, but I think it can be applied here. Walker played Major League Baseball, but if, in his opinion, “Hockey rules,” while baseball is not said to do the same, is he really the kind of example we want enshrined in the Hall?

In the above clip, Harold Reynolds of MLB Network refers to Walker as a “high-end All-Star pitcher.” Later in the clip, Reynolds continues to sing Walker’s praises and says he thinks he is worthy of being a Hall of Famer. Given that Reynolds and Walker played around the same time (Walker’s career was rising as Reynolds’ career was ending), you might think Reynolds is a good judge of Walker’s performance.

However, Walker has a total of zero innings pitched at the major league level. No other pitcher with as few innings pitched has ever been elected into the Hall of Fame. In fact, Satchel Paige had the fewest innings pitched of any pitcher inductee, and he tossed 476 frames in the major leagues (and pitched approximately one million in the Negro Leagues). This is a drastic difference. Forget being a Hall of Fame pitcher— even Reynolds’ claim that Walker is a “high-end All-Star pitcher” seems to be a stretch.

Walker has a career OPS+ of 141, which means he was 41 percent better than the average hitter over his career (1989-2005) when adjusting for external factors like a player’s home ballpark/celestial body. That mark is only the third best on this year’s ballot behind only Barry Bonds and Manny Ramírez. Over one hundred batters have been elected to the Hall with an OPS+ of lower than Walker’s.

Now, obviously, Walker was a product of Coors Field. We all know this and that’s why I didn’t even bother to include a section regarding this fact.

But when we look at his park-adjusted OPS, we find that Walker would appear to be a Hall of Fame-caliber hitter, even when removing Coors Field from the equation.

In his career, Walker slashed .313/.400/.565. If he were never to play at Coors Field, that line drops to .282/.372/.479. That’s an .851 OPS, which we can all agree is a step down from his .965 mark with Coors. Baseball-Reference tallies the numbers for all Hall of Fame batters and we find that the average OPS in the Hall of Fame is .841.

And back to that 1997 MVP season—Walker played in three fewer games on the road, but also hit nine more home runs away from Coors Field. He had a 24-point increase in slugging percentage on the road as well.

So, when we adjust for park factors, Walker is still closer to the top than the bottom among Hall of Famers. And when we remove Coors Field altogether, he’s still in the top half. It’s starting to look like he may belong in the Hall, right?

That’s where you’re wrong.

When you look at Walker’s collective career, it is physically impossible not to start hooting and hollering over the absurd level to which Coors Field inflated his numbers. What is also impossible is the coexistence of these two beliefs: that Walker is a product of Coors Field and also has Hall of Fame caliber park-adjusted and road numbers.

A Rockies’ player has never hit well on the road in the team’s 26-year history, so if you expect me to start believing a guy has Hall of Fame numbers just because it’s his last year on the ballot, you’re out of luck.

So, yes, it would certainly appear Walker was very good on the road. But as we’ve established, this is not possible for a product of Coors Field.

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As any self-respecting purveyor of sporting cliche knows, it’s never a bad idea to keep quiet and let your football do the talking. The problem for Brendan Rodgers is that he has often wanted to let his talking do the talking – which is a shame since, by and large, his football has spoken loudly enough.

For a coach whose career is barely a decade old, Rodgers’ CV isn’t half bad. He has presided over one promotion, one staggeringly good debut top-flight campaign, one freewheeling title charge, one unbeaten league season and back-to-back domestic trebles. Yet throughout, he has continued to serve as a punchline, painted by a substantial cohort as a faintly buffoonish David Brent figure.

Eleven games into the current season, his Leicester side sit third, having played four of the ‘Big Six’. Only one team has scored more and no side has conceded fewer. Is British football finally ready to recognise Rodgers as an elite-level coach? In fact, why hasn’t it done so already?

The answer is not straightforward, no matter what some of his harsher detractors would have you believe, although it’s true that he’s often failed to do himself any favours when a microphone has been aimed his way. In today’s culture, it only takes one slip of the tongue – one tiny soundbite lacking in self-awareness – to make you look silly. And it’s fair to say that Rodgers, who as Swansea manager declared it “great that the public here at Sunderland could see us play” after overseeing a 1-0 defeat on Wearside, has given more than just the one.

Open a new tab in your browser now, and you won’t need to look hard to find a smarmy listicle detailing “Brendan’s best quotes”. That fact itself is instructive. Rodgers has had the misfortune to come of age in perfect timing with an online culture whose core currencies are put-downs, piss-takes and memes. During his three years at Liverpool, the number of active Twitter users doubled. The social media age has not always been kind to a man whose account of his evening jogs around the streets of Liverpool, when “the doors are open and the dinners are on and you can smell the mince cooking”, sounded like he was starring in his own Dickens novel.

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Much of this, too, is probably tied into the very British instinct to take against someone who talks a good game before they’ve played one, to knock down the mouthy newcomer a peg or two. Yet the longer Rodgers’ career goes on, the more his words are backed up by his deeds. Take a look at his last four jobs – Swansea, Liverpool, Celtic and his nascent Leicester tenure – and it quickly dawns that each register somewhere between ‘mighty impressive’ and ‘transformatively brilliant’.

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What’s more, they have covered near enough the full gamut of remits and expectations. It’s become part of football’s received wisdom that managing a so-called smaller club is incomparable to presiding over a heavyweight – hence why the same rotating cast of coaches get the big jobs while the impressive mid-rankers are overlooked. Rodgers’ model has worked across the board: promotion-chasing minnow, sleeping giant, trophy-hoovering Goliath figure, and now an aspirational upper-middleweight.

In each instance he has found a new gear, improved his team beyond expectation and created a side better than the sum of its parts, at least for a time. Young players excel under his watch. Attackers – especially hard-running and bloodthirsty centre-forwards – flourish like never before. Best of all, he has never needed big money to make big progress. Has it just been bad PR holding him back?

Not exactly. His penchant for saying the wrong thing hasn’t just wound up anonymous fans on the internet – it’s had real-world implications too. At least one of his bosses at Anfield was “fighting the urge to call up and tear him a new asshole”, according to one internal missive, after fingers had been pointed at “the money men” over failed signings. Ultimately it was that friction which cost him his employment. Yet even at Liverpool, the least tangibly successful of his last three jobs and one where things went downhill badly towards the end, he put together a sensationally exciting team, nearly won the league, and turned Luis Suarez, Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho into players that would fetch the club around a quarter of a billion pounds.

By that time, of course, his faintly silly Shankly-lite soundbites had made him the star of a million memes, his whitened teeth lighting up the internet as a new breed of online fan began to find its voice. Combine this with a mainstream press that prizes quotes above all else, and you have a strange sporting culture in which managers are judged as much by what they say as what they do. Ironically, given the efforts Rodgers puts into his speechifying, it’s the talking that’s hamstrung him.

Now, though, he seems to have toned down the self-mythologising and, slowly but surely, he’s winning hearts and minds. In the wake of Leicester’s 9-0 demolition of Southampton, Gary Neville said Rodgers might soon find himself in the picture for the English football’s top jobs, including the one Pep Guardiola will sooner or later vacate. Which would be quite the ambition. But then, as a smart man once said: you can live without water for days, but you can’t live for a second without hope.