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Rockies utility infielder Cristhian Adames had a hitless 2017

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Even utility infielder’s need to hit at least a little

Welcome to the 2017 edition of Ranking the Rockies, where we take a look back at the in-season contributions of every player to don the purple this past season. The goal wasn’t and isn’t to quibble with order. Instead, it’s to get a snapshot of a player along with a look forward. For that reason, we simply sorted by Baseball-Reference’s Wins Above Replacement (rWAR) and will start at the bottom and end up at the top.

No. 37, Cristhian Adames (-0.4 rWAR)

You’d be forgiven if you forgot that Cristhian Adames even played for the Rockies in 2017. Adames appeared to be redundant after the Rockies signed fellow light-hitting utility infielder Alexi Amarista, but Ian Desmond’s Spring Training injury opened the door for Adames to give it another go in the majors. The expectations were low, but Adames did prove capable, at least with the glove, over 256 plate appearances and about 400 innings in the field during the 2016 season. Now, however, expectations can’t really get lower for Adames.

In 2017, Adames managed to post that -0.4 rWAR season in just 14 plate appearances and nine innings in the field. He had the lowest batting average of any player to have at least one plate appearances in 2017—including pitchers. That’s what happens when the batting average is .000. Jordan Lyles managed a hit in his five plate appearances. Chris Rusin had three in his 10 tries at the plate.

Those in-season comparisons are slightly unfair. Adames is a better hitter than the pitchers on the team, but in this particular chunk of random events we call baseball, Adames is the lone player from the 2017 Rockies to have a plate appearance without recording a hit. But it’s not like it’s common for a player to go without a hit for a whole season. Adames joins Anderson Machado, Kimera Bartee, and Nelson Liriano as the only position players to log more than ten plate appearances for the Rockies without a hit. The list is small because hitters with hope would receive more opportunities to get that elusive hit. From this perspective, the comparison with pitchers looks a little more fair, and even a utility infielder needs to have a modicum of value at the plate.

With the newly signed free agent Amarista on the roster, it was inevitable that Adames was going to be the roster-casualty when Desmond returned in late April. Because he was out of options, the Rockies designated Adames for assignment to make room. Adames cleared waivers, and the Rockies outrighted him to Triple-A Albuquerque, where he spent the remainder of the season.

2018 Outlook

Adames is a MiLB free agent heading into 2018. Whoever signs him will do so with little anticipation that he’ll contribute at the major-league level.