Welcome to the fourth iteration of Purple Row’s Ranking the Rockies series. Since the 2013 offseason, the Purple Row staff has taken on the task of analyzing every player who made it into a game for the Rockies during the year. Like before, the rankings presented are based solely on a ranking from Baseball Reference’s Wins Above Replacement model (through Friday’s games). The staff did not engage in spirited debate about whether or not Jason Gurka should rank higher than Chad Qualls. The rankings are an entry point, not a value judgment.
Starting tomorrow, we’ll have an article dedicated to an individual player from cellar dweller (SPOILER) Gerardo Parra to (SPOILER) king o’ the mountain, Nolan Arenado. But first, this post will cover a handful of players who made into games, but that either didn’t play enough to warrant a season ranking. They are the player fragments 2016 left behind.
Remember him? Hale started 12 games and pitched 78.1 innings for the Rockies in 2015. Heading into 2016, he seemed to be a depth option for the rotation—nobody’s idea of a mainstay, but someone who can swing between the bullpen and rotation, as needed. In fact, Hale began the season in the bullpen.
On April 16, Hale entered a road game against the Cubs. He pitched 1.2 innings, allowed three runs on three hits, walked two batters, and struck out one. On the surface, it’s a rough relief outing. But it was worse because those three home runs were due to a three-run home run off the bat of Dexter Fowler. The Cubs exploited Hale’s hittability. Three days later, Hale entered another game in relief, this time against the Reds. He gave up a hit and recorded an out. And three days after that, having only pitched two innings in two games, the Rockies designated Hale for assignment. Baltimore claimed him off waivers, but he didn’t pitch again in the majors in 2016.
Rafael Ynoa is the position player version of David Hale. Ynoa made it into 19 games in 2014, but he got much more playing time in 2015. He played in 72 games and received 131 plate appearances. In those PAs, he hit .260/.277/.339, for an OPS+ of 57, so he didn’t figure to get much playing time in the majors in 2016 if the Rockies could help it.
They could help it, for the most part. Ynoa played in Triple-A Albuquerque through July, and the Rockies called him up in early August after the team learned Trevor Story would be out for the season. He got into three games from August 2-4, received five plate appearances, and didn’t make it on base. The Rockies sent Ynoa back to the minors, preferring to stick with Daniel Descalso and Cristhian Adames in the absence of Story. In September, the Rockies designated Ynoa for assignment and later outrighted him to Triple-A. He’s still in the system, but he’s off the 40-man roster. The 29-year-old is unlikely to see major-league action again.
Remember Tommy Field? Pat Valaika is the new Tommy Field. As a September call-up, he’s started two games for the Rockies and has received 19 plate appearances. He hit four singles, a double, and a homer in those chances. Given his age and apparent health, Valaika is likely to survive the winter. He is not, however, likely to survive it as a member of the 40-man roster.
The fact that Jordan Patterson received about as much playing time as Valaika says a lot about what the Rockies think of Patterson. The 24-year-old has only made it into 10 games and has started just two—the final two of the season. He had 19 plate appearances.
Patterson is a reminder that, however much information we have publicly, the teams generally know more than we do. Earlier in the season, when the Rockies needed first base help, and parts of the internet that include Purple Row clamored and questioned why the Rockies wouldn’t just call-up Patterson. Instead, they gave starts at first to players like Daniel Descalso and Gerardo Parra. While he wasn’t on the 40-man roster at the time, it would have been easy to DFA someone like Ynoa. In fact, that’s what the Rockies did when they called Patterson up in early September. The whole of Patterson’s season suggests that the Rockies see Patterson as a role player going forward.