In 2017, the youthful and exuberant Houston Astros took MLB by storm, slamming their way through the Postseason and downing the Los Angeles Dodgers in an exciting and energizing World Series. Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve electrified a lineup, baseball team and city and created baseball's newest dynasty.
In 2018, a Colorado Rockies team whose core was centered around youth got polar opposite results in their first Division Series berth in nearly a decade.
The lack of experience that put a chip on the Astros' shoulders sent the Rockies' bats into a panicked frenzy that spelled the demise of their season. The offensive production that had been just enough to put together 91 wins in the regular season and squeak out a 13-inning Wild Card clincher disappeared entirely, blown further and further away by every whiff taken off a Milwaukee Brewers pitcher's delivery.
"You just want to get the knock," outfielder David Dahl said. "You want to be the guy that helps the team. So, you just want to help the team so bad that you just try too much."
In this year's edition of Rocktober, the bats were as cold as the weather in Denver for NLDS Game 3. The Rockies struggled to tally just four runs in 40 offensive innings. That's less than a run per game. If you include the National League West tiebreaker, it goes up to six runs in 49 innings. The average goes up to a whopping 1.1 runs per game.
In the final 10 games of the regular season, they scored 7.1 runs per game. In the eyes of the 24-year-old Dahl, who went 0-for-11 with three strikeouts in his first exposure to the MLB playoffs, the big lights were too blinding for him and his teammates.
"I felt we were just trying to do too much at the plate. We wanted to get that big hit and so we expanded the zone a lot. We chased a lot. So, we just have to get better at living in the moment and not letting it get too big for us."
Dahl entered the playoffs scalding and the reigning NL Player of the Week, smashing six home runs in the final seven games on the schedule.
Over the next week, he was a non-factor, along with the rest of the offense. The Rockies' trio of All-Star bats — Trevor Story, Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon — went 10-for-49 with 14 strikeouts in the Postseason run, and 6-for-35 with 12 strikeouts in the NLDS.
Forty percent of the big bats' production came in 25 percent of the games played. In the second round, they struck out twice for every hit they recorded, failing to back up a pitching staff that ultimately rose to the task despite also having little-to-no playoff experience.
Dahl said he'll be replaying at-bats in his mind at least through the World Series, but at some point the team has to turn the page and get ready for 2019.
"It's definitely tough, we're all upset here. But we had a good year. We just need to learn from everything, learn from the experience we just had and just get to work in the offseason and get ready.
"I expect us to be back in the playoffs next year."