The Colorado Rockies are some kind of ball club. Since the arrival of star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki in 2007, the team has been notoriously streaky, leading to an unprecedented amount of success, and a whole new brand of baseball out in Colorado.
Before Tulowitzki arrived, the Rockies weren't known for their streaky behavior. Actually, before Tulo the team wasn't known for much at all.
In the eight seasons leading up to Tulo's rookie season, the Rockies didn't register a winning record once. In 2007, Tulowitzki's rookie year, the Rockies won ninety games, including 14 of the last 15 games of the regular season, leading to their first playoff birth since 1995.
Led by their sensational rookie and a triumvirate of veterans, Colorado carried that momentum right into the playoffs, sweeping the Phillies and the Diamondbacks in the National League division and championship series. However, after an extended layoff, the Rockies cooled off considerably, failing to win a single game in the 2007 World Series.
2009 marked a breakout season for Tulowitzki. After an injury-riddled sophomore campaign, Tulo and the Rockies got off to a slow start, going 18-28 over the first two months of the season. However, the team quickly turned it around, playing over .630 ball in the final four months, including a sparkling 18-9 record in September.
Over the final 116 games, Tulowitzki put together an amazing line of .323/.400/.613, eventually launching the Rockies back into the playoffs and cementing himself as one of the games brightest young players.
However, the Rockies also managed to amass an inordinate amount of streaks over this period, including back to back eleven- and eight-game winners. Despite their tremendous second half, the Rockies still managed to hit the skids, most notably two late season stretches of over four games apiece.
In 2010, the Rockies were just as susceptible to the streak, but with less than favorable results. In late July, the team lost nine in a row, doubling their deficit in the division to nine games. But just as everyone began to count them out, the Rockies, led by Tulowitzki's 1.588 OPS, won 13 of 17 to open September, placing themselves only one game back of the division-leading Giants.
Then it all fell apart. The Rockies lost 13 of their last 14 contests, including an eight game slide to finish the season.
You may be wondering, what's with the history lesson?
Streakiness is often attributed to luck. Most people believe that maintaining streaky performance is a statistical anomaly, and that those stints spent in baseball's peaks and valleys almost always even out. If the Rockies and Troy Tulowitzki have proven anything over the last five seasons, it's that streakiness isn't always random—sometimes it's part of your DNA.
2011, at least for the time being, has proven to be a deviation from the norm for the Rockies. Besides starting the season red hot, the Rockies haven't been their streaky selves. They currently sit five games under .500 and 8.5 games out of first place in the National League West.
Who will win the NL West?
However, things are beginning to turn around in Denver. The Rockies suddenly find themselves in the midst of a six-game winning streak and are set to open a three-game set against the last place Dodgers over the weekend. With 12 of their last 30 games against the surprise Diamondbacks and hobbling Giants, the Rockies have a golden opportunity to climb back into the division race.
Not surprisingly, Tulowitzki has picked up his production in the month of August, toting a line of .383/.451/.691 over his last 23 games. It looks like the Rockies, led by Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez (1.045 OPS in August), are trending back to their abnormal norm, and yet again playing the Rockies Mountain Way.
When Joe Walsh penned the lines "the Rocky Mountain Way, is better than the way we had," he surely didn't have in mind Tulowitzki and the Rockies, (although heed the baseball reference in there). But just ask any Colorado Rockies fan and they'll tell you, it doesn't make it any less true.