Is Coors Field creating a competitive disadvantage for the Rockies?

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A writer at Purple Row, SB Nation’s Rockies blog, by the name of “RhodeIslandRoxFan” penned a very thought-provoking column yesterday in which he hypothesizes that either the Sabermetric stat wRC+ is flawed when it comes to accounting for the effect of Coors Field, or that the Rockies’ home park is responsible for a very noticeable competitive disadvantage.

For those not familiar, wRC+, or weighted runs created, is a Sabermetric statistic found at FanGraphs. The plus sign, similar to OPS+, indicates that the stat has been normalized such that 100 is average. wRC+ takes the various contributions a player makes — hitting singles, doubles, triples, and home runs; stealing bases; drawing walks — and converts it into one single statistic telling you how many runs a player contributed to his team’s offense.

RhodeIslandRoxFan illustrates the disparity between the Rockies’ home and road wRC+ dating back to 2002, both when FanGraphs’ data begins and when the Rockies introduced the humidor. On average, the Rockies have posted a 99 wRC+ at home and 82 on the road. The 17-point difference is staggering, as the next-biggest gap is nine points, posted by the Diamondbacks, Cardinals, Braves, and Pirates.

While it is tempting to believe that the stat is not accounting for Coors Field properly, RIRF shows that the Rockies’ home wRC+ doesn’t differ terribly from the league average at home on a season-by-season basis. However, the Rockies’ road wRC+ does vary from the league average on the road. RIRF concludes:

The road numbers on the other hand tend to support the idea that the Rockies are operating at a competitive disadvantage to all the other teams in baseball. Like a drug addict not being able to function when they come off a high without a fix, Rockies’ hitters don’t seem to be able to function properly when they come off the high of hitting at Coors Field.

Of course, this is one study and isn’t by any means conclusive and exhaustive, but the author makes a very compelling argument. If you enjoy well-reasoned analysis, check out the full article.

Aledmys Diaz is trying to improve his defense with strobe glasses

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MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.

Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.

The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.

Eduardo Rodriguez could rejoin the Red Sox rotation in July

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Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.

The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.

He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.