Thursday Rockpile: Who should the Rockies’ next hitting coach be? Part II

St. Louis Cardinals v Milwaukee Brewers
Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

Colorado Rockies news and links for Thursday, October 27th, 2022

After a lousy 2022 season the Colorado Rockies and hitting coach Dave Magadan have parted ways. Magadan was the hitting coach for four seasons in Colorado but now the team will be exploring fresh—or not so fresh—faces for the role. Last week we discussed who the Rockies should definitely not hire at the position, as well as two potential men to fill the vacancy. This week, we will continue exploring fits in the dugout.

Todd Helton

If there’s anyone who knows how to hit both at Coors Field and away, it’s the Greatest Rockie. The soon-to-be-Hall of Fame first baseman. Helton slashed a truly excellent .345/.441/.607 within the confines of Coors Field, but his numbers on the road were nothing to scoff at either with a line of .287/.386/.467 over his 17 year career. With over 2500 career hits and a career batting average of .316 Helton is in sole possession of most major hitting milestones in a Rockies uniform. Helton was an on-base machine that excelled in keeping the ball off the ground. He hit ground balls just 36.5% of the time over a lengthy career compared to a 42.9% league average… and the bloated 46.8% figure the 2022 Rockies boasted. Helton was a prodigious doubles hitter with 592 career two-baggers, but could also send the ball over the wall when needed with 369.

Helton returned to the Rockies organization last year as a special assistant to general manager Bill Schmidt. He worked as a guest instructor at minor league spring training before spending his season touring Rockies minor league affiliates and mentoring the prospects and stars of the future. Notably he worked with first base prospect Michael Toglia, who ended up hitting eight doubles, two triples, and two home runs in his first taste of the majors. After a year of traveling, perhaps the Toddfather might be interested in reclaiming a permanent seat in the Rockies dugout?

Matt Holliday

Despite having spent more time as a St. Louis Cardinal than he did as a Rockie, Matt Holliday still has close ties with the organization after returning for his swan song in 2018. Holliday is a career .299/.379/.510 hitter over 15 seasons in the big leagues and hit 316 home runs. He does have a higher than average career ground ball rate at 45.9%. However, Holliday differentiates himself from other former Rockies candidates due to the fact that he played outside of the organization. Hitting .316 at home and .282 on the road during his career, Holliday can provide a multi-faceted perspective to both hitting at Coors Field and the hangover that comes with it.

Another key factor for Holliday as a candidate is coaching experience. He joined the coaching staff at Oklahoma State University as the Cowboys’ hitting coach in 2019. His son Jackson was also the first overall selection in the 2022 draft by the Baltimore Oriones. Jackson Holliday had an impressive professional debut as an 18-year old. He hit .297/.489/.422 while drawing a whopping 25 walks through 90 plate appearances across FCL and Low-A level ball.

Jeff Albert

If the Rockies hire anyone from outside the organization—which they should—it needs to be former St. Louis Cardinals hitting coach Jeff Albert. In a surprise announcement on Wednesday it was revealed that Albert would not be returning to the Redbirds for 2023. The Rockies need to swoop in a bring Albert in for an interview as soon as possible (and maybe even bring in Mike Maddux as a bonus).

Jeff Albert as elected not to return as hitting coach. Mike Maddux is stepping down as pitching coach.

“We have a lot of openings,” Mozeliak says.#stlcards

— Derrick Goold (@dgoold) October 26, 2022

The Cardinal’s offense was staggeringly better than the Rockies in 2022. They saw MVP-caliber seasons from Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, the latter of which had their best season since 2019. Albert Pujols delivered an exciting final season to cap off his storied big league career. The Cardinals had eight players with double digit home runs compared to the Rockies’ five. The Cardinals had three batters with 20 or more home runs while the Rockies had two. The Cardinals had two batters with 30 or more home runs… The Rockies had none.

The Cardinals offense was categorically and systematically better than the Rockies from top to bottom. While the Rockies had one of the worst OPS+ and wRC+ in the league, the Cardinals had one of the best. They drew more walks, they struck out less, and most importantly they elevated the ball. St. Louis had a top ten team ground ball rate at 41.2% compared to the Rockies league-worst (and franchise worst) 46.8% rate. They also hit the ninth most home runs as a team and ranked among the best in the league at drawing walks and avoiding strikeouts. Albert’s departure came as a surprise, and the Rockies need to take advantage of it immediately for their own benefit.

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MLB playoffs poll: Insiders weigh in on new format, manager’s role, pitcher usage | The Athletic ($)

On Tuesday our own Paul Elliott discussed the new MLB playoff format as game one of the 2022 World Series approaches. The folks over at the Athletic polled several MLB coaches and scouts about their feelings on the new format, as well as topics like what a manager’s role should be in the playoffs.

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Arizona Fall League

The Salt River Rafters did not play on Wednesday following their 12-0 victory on Tuesday. Instead, watch this clip of Zac Veen being an excellent base runner.

Have you ever seen a player work a walk and steal a base on the same pitch? Well, @zacveen did just that!

Watch as the @rockies prospect shows off his blazing speed! #AFL22

— MLB’s Arizona Fall League (@MLBazFallLeague) October 26, 2022

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