The Colorado Rockies 2020 season is set to begin one week from today, and nobody quite knows how things will play out once the games get rolling.
Instead of a traditional 162 game season, the Rockies, and the rest of the league, will play a shortened 60-game season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are many factors that give the 2020 season a funky feel. By playing only 60-games, the season is basically a 30 team pennant race from the get-go. Also, some new rules are sure to change the dynamic of the game.
Pitchers are required to face a minimum of three-batters, or complete a half-inning before a change can occur and the designated hitter will be implemented into the National League.
These rules should benefit teams loaded with offense, like the Rockies.
The addition of the DH will change the way Colorado constructs their lineup, and there are a few candidates primed for the role.
Newcomer Matt Kemp is one option, as is fellow veteran Daniel Murphy.
Murphy, 35, is entering the second year of a two-year pact he signed with the Rockies before the 2019 season.
Murphy’s first season in Colorado was rough around the edges. A finger injury sidelined him early on, and he was never able to settle into a groove at the plate as he had in previous years.
Murphy finished the season with a modest .279 batting average over 438 at-bats, a significant drop from his lifetime .298 average.
He is just two seasons removed from hitting .322 with 93 RBI. After spicing up his offseason workout regimen, there is reason to believe Murphy can return to form in 2020, especially if he were able to focus solely on hitting.
The Rockies signed Murphy to play first base, despite his lack of professional experience at the position. Murphy primarily played second base throughout his career, although defense has never been his strong suit. He has always been a liability defensively (just ask New York Mets fans) but his bat has always made up for what he lacks in the field.
Now at the backend of his career, a transition to the DH could be a solid move for Murphy. His swing is strong and he has looked great physically during Summer Camp, as Thomas Harding notes.
Murphy has long been a student of the game. His swing has evolved over his career to adapt to changes in pitching. Coors Field is a hitter’s paradise and Murphy now has a full season at altitude under his belt. He owns a .322 lifetime batting average at Coors, and is one of the best all-around hitters of the last decade.
Last season did not go according to plan, but like Michael Cuddyer and others before him, Murphy is primed to be the next veteran to revive his career with the Rockies.
If things go right, it might even be worth it to throw a couple of bucks on Murphy to win the National League batting title now that sports betting is legal in Colorado.