Opening Day is officially here, with the Colorado Rockies set to take on the Los Angeles Dodgers in a three-game series this weekend to kickoff the MLB season. Despite being one of the worst teams in baseball the past few seasons, the Rockies are heading into the 2022 campaign with renewed hope thanks to a refreshed roster. The National League West is still one of the best in baseball, though, which means an improved record could be hard to come by. Here, we break down four things that could determine the Rockies success this summer, as well as off-the-field entertainment to get excited about.
Bank on Bryant
On March 18, the Rockies surprised the baseball world, signing former National League MVP Kris Bryant to a seven-year contract worth $182 million. Few thought the Rockies had a shot at landing Bryant, a four-time All-Star who was part of the Chicago Cubs’ historic World Series run in 2016. Dick Monfort, the team’s primary owner, could barely contain his excitement during Bryant’s introductory press conference, saying that he could “help us win the elusive World Series.” Less than a week later, though, Trevor Story, one of the Rockies’ best players the past few years, signed with the Boston Red Sox. With Story’s departure, Bryant at least maintains some star power for Colorado’s baseball team. The newest Rockie even thinks the team has a chance to “surprise people.”
Blake Street Bombers
Everyone knows home runs simply hit different in the thin air at Coors Field. Lucky for fans, this year’s Rockies lineup is chock-full of guys known for going yard. C.J. Cron, who hit 28 homers in his debut season with the Rockies last year, is back, and the team traded for outfielder Randal Grichuk, a player who has consistently slugged 25 home runs a year. Add in lineup mainstays like Charlie Blackmon and Ryan McMahon, as well as Bryant, and you’ve got an offense that may just live and die by the long ball.
Superstars of Today?
For years, Rockies fans have heard about the promise of infielders Ryan McMahon and Brendan Rodgers; both players were top prospects in the team’s minor league system. For parts of last season, the pair showed flashes that signaled they may be the future superstars we were promised. McMahon was one of the best defensive players in the National League (there were even fleeting moments when his play at third base made Rockies fans forget about the painful departure of Nolan Arenado last year). And Rodgers showed he has power to all fields during a late season surge. If the Rockies are going to be competitive in the National League, the exciting infielders need to live up to expectations—and maybe even exceed them—this season.
A Call to Arms
Starting pitchers German Márquez and Kyle Freeland were the backbone of the 2018 Rockies squad that made it to the National League Division Series. And Antonio Senzatela has also proven he can be counted on, as demonstrated by the five-year extension he signed with the team in October. But the number of outs the Rockies fourth and fifth starters (likely Austin Gomber and Chad Kuhl, to start the season) get them this year will go a long way to determining whether or not the team is competitive. Gomber, whom the Rockies received from the St. Louis Cardinals in the Nolan Arenado trade, put together 15 consistent starts early last season, before an injury in mid-June derailed his season. Kuhl was average at best for the Pittsburgh Pirates last year. But one or more of those last spots could also end up being taken by top prospects like Ryan Rolison later in the summer.
McGregor Square opened just before Denver hosted the All-Star Game last July. But the $365-million mixed-use development next to Coors Field only had a limited number of tenants at the time. This season, the entertainment complex is full, allowing fans to enjoy everything from watching the games at Tom’s Watch Bar to browsing for books at Tattered Cover to lounging on the rooftop pool at the Rally Hotel.