What was the best Colorado Rockies offense of all time?

Was it in 1996 or 1997 when the Blake Street Bombers were at the height of their powers? How about the 2007 team that went all the way to the World Series?

According to the league and park adjusted stat, OPS+, those teams actually rank 2-4 in franchise history while the 2014 squad – who won only 66 games – takes the top spot.

You may not have guessed them but once you read off the names of the hitters for the 2014 Rox, it’s not all that surprising that they could be considered the best of the bunch.

Troy Tulowitzki paced the team in almost every category except that injuries limited him to just 91 games. His 1.035 OPS and 170 OPS+ put him firmly in Larry Walker and Todd Helton territory. In fact, Helton’s career high in OPS+ was 165.

Justin Morneau won his first batting title that year despite having higher batting averages two seasons in Minnesota and higher OPS+ marks in four seasons. He slashed .319/.364/.496 with 17 home runs and 82 RBI for an OPS+ of 125.

The other former Twin, Michael Cuddyer, was even more hurt than Tulo and only got into 49 games but made the most of them. He slashed .332/.376/.579 with 10 home runs and 30 RBI for an OPS+ of 148.

Corey Dickerson was the second biggest contributor according to the stat de jour, posting an OPS+ of 141 and leading the team with 24 home runs.

A sophomore third baseman named Nolan Arenado, who had shown some promise but only posted an OPS+ of 81 his rookie campaign, bumped it up to 115. He went on to be a pretty decent hitter as well.

The primary center fielder that year was Drew Stubbs who quietly put up a 114 OPS+ while hitting 15 home runs and stealing 20 bags.

Where this gets truly mind boggling is when you look at the regular players for that team who didn’t contribute much to the franchise-best offense. 

Charlie Blackmon was fine in his first full year, just over the league average with an OPS+ of 103 but that season was easily the worst for two all-time Rockies; DJ LeMahieu and Carlos Gonzalez.

CarGo struggled with a number of off-field and health issues and ended up with an OPS+ of 88 which is 23 points lower than anything he posted in the five years prior or two years after. In fact he was an All-Star in 2012 and 2013 and then won the Silver Slugger award in 2015, hitting a career high 40 home runs. But during the Rockies best hitting season ever, he was at his worst.

LeMahieu, who would go on to win batting titles in both leagues, was the low man with an OPS+ of 75. He never fared especially well in the stat but even in the one he does, batting average, he put up his worst mark ever at .267, 28 points below his career average. So he, too, was at his worst during the season the Rockies offense was at their best.

Unfortunately for this group, the 2014 Rockies were awful on the mound, combining for an ERA+ of 88, tied with the inaugural 1993 Rox for the worst in franchise history. They featured such illustrious names from Rox history as Jordan Lyles, Christian Bergman, Christian Friedrich, Yohan Flande, and Boone Logan. 

In ‘96 and ‘97, their second and third best offensive seasons, the Rockies did have winning records but did not make the playoffs. 

Of course they won the National League in 2007, their fourth best hitting campaign but the next two best team OPS+ years? 2016 and 2001. 75 and 73 wins respectively.

For those wondering how the 2023 squad stacks up, your guess that it is pretty bad would be accurate as they currently sit with a team OPS+ of 88. Only six teams in franchise history have done worse, including the 2020 short season and the 2021 team of just a few years ago.

So… in only one of the Rockies top six offensive seasons (2007) have they made the playoffs. 

On the flip side, if you sort by best pitching seasons using ERA+, you will find that they’ve played Rocktober baseball in five of their top seven seasons (2007, 2009, 2010, 2017, 2000, 2018, 1995) and had a winning record in all seven. 

Proving that age-old adage, that if you want to win, even and perhaps especially in the thin air and vast expanse of Coors Field, you have to pitch.