Editor's note: A lot of stuff happened to the Rockies in 2013. In this series, Purple Row breaks down the production the team got from each of the players who appeared with the team this year. We're starting with the least productive and steadily moving towards most productive.
Let's break down Jordan Pacheco's history as a player. Pacheco, who spent most of his pro career at catcher, was quickly converted into a utility-man over the 2011 season with the intent of getting his hit tool onto the MLB team as quickly as possible. Already 25 at the time, his time as an infielder had long since passed, and it was clear from his defensive struggles around the diamond as the primary corner utility guy in 2012 that much work was needed. He put up a solid, if shallow .309 batting average with somewhat better than expected doubles power but little else.
Moving into 2013, the Rockies counted on Pacheco making strides to be more effective as a reserve player, specifically a guy who could spot both Todd Helton and Wilin Rosario if necessary. Unfortunately his 2013 can only be looked at as an even more significant step backwards. On one hand, his hit tool is superb in theory, but it only seems to show itself when he gets regular at bats.
With no sign of a power tool, the lack of consistency with the batting average in limited play suggests he doesn't represent an effective bench option. His defensive showing at third base in 2012 was so damaging that the team avoided getting him a single inning at the hot corner this year, instead leaving him the third string first baseman behind Helton and Michael Cuddyer, where he did even worse defensively than the previous year.
While I firmly believe that the Rockies managed their roster quite well this year comparatively to most seasons, the Rockies choice to keep Pacheco on the team all the way past the All Star Break and into August was baffling. After his double-header walkoff against the Mets in April and go-ahead grand slam against the Giants in May, Pacheco failed to capitalize on opportunities to produce offensively, including an 0-29 streak through the month of July.
By the time we reached the half-way point, he had fallen steeply into the bottom tier of production on the team, but his ability to serve as a catcher and allow Rosario to pinch hit on his days off like delayed the decision for the Rockies to finally do something about it. Pacheco would finally be sent down at the end of the month, and burn his final option year in the process.
With the Rockies bench as disheveled and broken as it is, no defensive skill to speak of and his best tool weakened by lack of playing time, it is very hard to see Pacheco as a good option for the utility role he has occupied the past two seasons. Right now, with Yorvit Torrealba headed back to free agency and little in the form of MLB-caliber catching depth until Tom Murphy, Pacheco's best fit on the 2014 Rockies is as Wilin Rosario's backup catcher, and maybe as an emergency first baseman. However, limited playing time has been demonstrated to be debilitating top Pacheco's only major strength, and backup catcher types are a dime a dozen on the free agent market.
2013 Grade: F
Pacheco's 2013 lines are ugly across the board. He didn't hit (.239), didn't walk (3.8%) and struck out in excess of career rates (14.5%, good for a 0.26% BB/K). That grand slam would be his only home run of the season. His final line was a disastrous .239/.276/.312 in 262 plate appearances, good for a wOBA of .262.
His final bWAR was -1.6, final fWAR at -1.4, and was worth nearly two entire game losses single-handedly at the plate according to WPA.
2014: Though still a pre-arbitration player, Pacheco has done himself no favors towards earning a spot on the 2014 team. A responsible Rockies team will not hand him the 2014 backup catcher spot, and let him compete against 1-2 other MiLB free agents for the role. I do not believe he should be considered a viable candidate for a traditional utility position on the 2014 roster with a bench as weak as ours. Now out of options, Pacheco needs to earn himself a spot and not be handed one as he was the past two seasons, and if he fails to demonstrate an ability to be productive in a part-time catching role, it is time to move on.