Nick Hundley’s 2015 season gave him some leeway with fans when it came to his defensive shortcomings. The catcher hit .301/.339/.467 with 10 home runs and was a steadying voice in a tumultuous clubhouse. He also accosted Mark Kiszla, which raised his stock considerably with many fans.
In 2016, though, he lost all of that. His defense suffered again, and this time, with defensive wunderkind Tony Wolters behind him, the gap was obvious to even casual observers. The more Wolters’ bat heated up, the louder the calls to bench Nick Hundley and end his short-lived era as the Rockies’ catcher became.
Hundley finished 2016 hitting 40 points lower than he did 2015; a .260/.320/.439 effort saw him unable to keep the critics off his back. Hundley’s offensive numbers dwindled to a point where it almost seemed silly to keep playing him over a better player in Tony Wolters or even Tom Murphy in September. The club’s insistence to play Hundley became one of the more frustrating daily decisions fans had to deal with during the second half of the season. The 32-year-old became the personification of the problems people had with Walt Weiss.
Nick Hundley wasn’t all bad, though; he wasn’t a demon sprung forth from hell, and he certainly wasn’t a saboteur. Hundley was still a steadying voice in the clubhouse; players loved him, and young pitchers loved to work with him. Perhaps it’s not quantifiable, but that is important to a team and a pitching staff. What Nick did off the field isn’t immediately noticeable (if it’s noticeable at all), but it’s important to factor nonetheless when reviewing his tenure as a Colorado Rockie.
In 10 years, Hundley will likely be a name you shout when you’re having drinks with friends and talking about past Rockies nobody remembers, like Scott Podsednik or Edgmer Escalona before him. The Rockies didn’t do much when he was here—not that that was Hundley’s fault entirely—and they won’t regret letting him leave. Hundley will simply pass through us like the sands of time, another player for our favorite team we only remember for a minute.
The Rockies will move on with two young catchers and a good, young team. Nick will move on to another club that needs a veteran catcher to steady a rotation and a clubhouse. The universe will continue to function on its own. Nothing will change.
Nick Hundley’s time here was good, until it wasn’t. He was a fan favorite, until we didn’t like him anymore. He was a cool guy who yelled at Mark Kiszla, until he was just another reason to fire Walt Weiss.
So long, Nick Hundley. I’ll smile when my friend says your name at the bar. You’ll live on in late-night conversations and scoreboard trivia questions. So long.