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Which player best symbolizes the 2012 Rockies? You'll never guess!
No, not the Colorado Rockies' best player in 2012. He would be their Most Valuable Player. In this series, we're trying to identify the players who best symbolize their teams' seasons.
How bad were the Colorado Rockies' starting pitchers in 2012? How much time do you have.
No Rocky starter won more than five games all season. Seriously. Nobody won six games.
Collectively, Rocky starters finished the season with a 5.84 ERA, easily the highest in the major leagues.
And, most dramatically, the Rockies' starting pitchers were so terrible in the first half of the season that the organization invented an entirely new system, with four starters, low pitch limits, and piggy-back relievers.
That worked about as well as radical experiments usually work, and toward the end of the season management bowed to convention and announced that orthodoxy will return in 2013.
Yes, pitching in Coors Field ain't easy. But the Rockies have been playing in Coors Field for a while, and we'd never seen anything like this. Essentially, it just didn't matter who started for the Rockies; regardless, he was going to be terrible. And nobody better exemplified this strange phenomenon than Jeremy Guthrie.
In 2010 and '11, pitching in the tough American League East, Guthrie averaged 209 innings per season with a 4.08 ERA and a perfectly decent strikeout-to-walk ratio. He might have seemed like a real find, when the Rockies traded a couple of (seemingly!) disposable pitchers for him.
Well, maybe not. But a reasonable move, considering his general quality and demonstrated durability.
Instead, Guthrie was an unmitigated disaster. When the Rockies finally traded him to the Royals in July for their unmitigated disaster, Guthrie was 3-9 with a 6.35. He just seemed broken.
Except he wasn't. Not permanently. After a few rough outings with the Royals -- maybe he just needed some time to shake the ennui from his system? -- Guthrie looked like a completely different pitcher. In his last 11 starts with Kansas City, the Royals went 10-1 while Guthrie posted a 2.17 ERA.
It seems there was nothing wrong with Jeremy Guthrie that getting away from the Rockies couldn't cure. Now they just have to hope the starting pitchers left behind don't suffer from the same illness.
Correction: An earlier version of this article said the Rockies signed Jeremy Guthrie as a free agent.