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. 34, Mike Tauchman (-0.3 rWAR)
The Rockies entered Spring Training with considerable outfield depth. Charlie Blackmon, Carlos González, and Gerardo Parra stood as the three veterans, while David Dahl and Raimel Tapia were the young players poised to get substantial playing time, or at least compete for it. Add Ian Desmond’s outfield experience to the mix, and the Rockies had six players for three starting positions and at most two spots on the bench. Mike Tauchman was around number seven on Rockies’ outfield depth chart. And yet, injuries and a promising start in Triple-A conspired to give Tauchman a taste of major league baseball. In his time in the bigs, Tauchman demonstrated his limited but useful skills as a role player.
Tauchman wasn’t on the 40-man roster to begin the season and started with the Albuquerque Isotopes. It was his second try in Triple-A. In 2016, Tauchman hit just .286/.342/.373 there—below average after adjusting for the league and home ballpark. He rebounded in 2017 though, which contributed to the Rockies’ purchasing his contract and immediately calling him up in late June. Tauchman was hitting .313/.377/.529 at the time.
Tauchman didn’t get a lot of playing time in his first of two stints in the majors. He started two games and logged 12 plate appearances before getting optioned. The Rockies called him back up in August, and while he remained with the Rockies for the rest of the season, he only got 20 more plate appearances and didn’t start a game. Tauchman didn’t hit well, but he also didn’t get a lot of chances.
Despite his resurgence at the plate in Triple-A, the Rockies probably didn’t, and don’t, expect a lot from Tauchman’s bat. The most revealing feature of Tauchman’s time in the majors is that he played all three outfield positions. His defense can make him a valuable role player on the Rockies’ depth chart. Tauchman’s speed helps him out there. That tool is also the foundation of perhaps the greatest nickname in Rockies history:
Mike "Speedy Leg Boy" Tauchman (trademark purple row) (trademark connor)— Purple Row (@PurpleRow) July 2, 2017
The Rockies’ outfield depth-chart doesn’t look to be as top-heavy in 2018. González probably won’t be back, and Desmond should move to a more full-time role at first base. Even if everyone is healthy, there might be a window of opportunity for Tauchman to sneak his way into a bench role for at least part of the season.