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Rozenson: Which pitch types work best at Coors Field?

From Dan Rozenson at Baseball Prospectus on April 3, 2013:

Over the 1997 offseason, the Colorado Rockies realized that they desperately needed an ace starting pitcher. Although drastically inflated by the Coors Field environment, the team’s league-worst 5.25 ERA stood out like a sore thumb on a club whose lineup included the likes of Larry Walker, Dante Bichette, Vinny Castilla, and Andres Galarraga.

The Rockies targeted Houston Astros pitcher Darryl Kile, fresh off a season in which he finished fifth in the NL Cy Young voting (19–7, 2.57 ERA), and inked him to a three-year, $24 million dollar deal. That may not seem impressive in 2013, but it made Kile the fourth-highest paid pitcher in baseball at the time. Rockies owner Jerry Morris proclaimed it a “memorable moment” for the organization and “the first step to attaining a world championship.”

Unfortunately for Kile and the Rockies, his stay was a disaster. In 1998, Kile’s ERA ballooned to 5.20 and his K/9 rate dropped to its lowest level since his rookie season. Still, his ERA+ was 100, suggesting he would have been a league-average pitcher if all MLB games were played in the same stadium. It was in 1999 that things got really ugly. In 190.2 innings, Kile posted a 6.61 ERA, the second-worst of all time for someone who’d thrown that many innings in a season. Worse, his road ERA (5.89) had become so bad that it couldn’t do much to offset his atrocious home ERA (7.44). It was as if Kile had been ruined as a pitcher.

Bewildered by his drop-off in performance, the Rockies shipped Kile out to St. Louis, where he recovered his form from Houston. In 2½ seasons with the Cards, Kile went 41–24 with a 3.54 ERA (125 ERA+). Tragically, he died of a heart attack at midseason in 2002.

Read the full article here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=20069

This page was last updated April 3, 2013 at 10:42 am MST.

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