ROCKIES

Nolan Jones caps a rookie season unlike any other in Rockies history

Oct 1, 2023, 10:26 PM | Updated: Oct 2, 2023, 1:45 am

Never mind the Rockies’ record. And that’s the best perspective to take, since it’s arguable that the team’s franchise-record 103 losses is the least-important aspect of its 2023 season.

Instead, the things that truly matter involve the future. The river of pitching prospects from the four-year college ranks the Rockies added in the July draft. The fact that the team embraced selling at the deadline of an already-lost season and added still more pitchers, most at high levels of the minor-league system. One, Victor Vodnik, made his debut last month.

And young players like Ezquiel Tovar, Brenton Doyle and, of course, Nolan Jones, who smacked his 20th home run Sunday in the bottom of the fourth inning to help power the Rockies to a 3-2, extra-innings win in their season finale Sunday.

As MLB.com’s Thomas Harding reported, Nolan Jones became the first rookie in Rockies history to post a 20-20 season. He notched his 20th stolen base in the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday.

Jones was at his best in the last month, logging a scorching 1.112 OPS since Sept. 1. His .931 OPS led all Rockies with at least 100 plate appearances. And his total WAR — as calculated by Baseball-Reference.com — of 4.0 led the Rockies, just ahead of shortstop Ezequiel Tovar (3.3) and third baseman Ryan McMahon (3.3).

So, the two highest WAR figures on the Rockies came from rookies. And another rookie, outfielder Brenton Doyle, notched a solid .752 OPS from September 1 onward, which helped him eke his batting average over the Mendoza Line. Doyle’s defensive WAR of 2.2 matched Tovar for the highest fielding WAR on the roster.

In short, this is how you should be doing it. Let the youngest players learn, grow and progress. Now, the timeline on most of the young pitchers likely precludes any from being of help until 2025 or later. But until that time comes, the Rockies can continue developing a new young core.

To that, the Rockies will also add Charlie Blackmon, who re-signed with the Rockies on Saturday. He will remain the longest-continuously-tenured athlete in Denver pro sports.

But Blackmon’s presence will likely have a supporting role to the young cadre of Rockies. And Jones might be the most exciting one of all.

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