You’re reading the 2018 edition of Ranking the Rockies, where we take a look back at the season had by every player to play for the Rockies in 2018. The purpose of this list is to provide a snapshot of the player in context. The “Ranking” is an organizing principle that’s drawn from Baseball Reference’s WAR (rWAR). It’s not something the staff debated. We’ll begin with the player with the least amount of rWAR and end up with the player with the most.
★ ★ ★
No. 26, Raimel Tapia (0.0 rWAR)
The mythology around Raimel Tapia goes back a number of years at this point. The freaky hand-eye coordination. The crouch with two strikes. The exciting style of play. We’ve been ready for Tapia for a long time.
So how is it possible that we just wrapped up the 2018 season and we’re still waiting? Tapia had moments of brilliance during his 2017 appearances and one in particular this past season (more on that in a second). He has at least shown flashes of a guy who is ready for an extended opportunity at the big league level.
The obvious reason there hasn’t been room for Tapia is the glut of veteran outfielders on the roster the past couple seasons. The fact that Carlos Gonzalez and Gerardo Parra are both left-handed hasn’t helped matters either. But it still feels like there’s something more going on, like there’s something missing. Or at least it feels like the Rockies think something is missing.
Tapia seems like he has been miscast when he has appeared. He doesn’t seem to have taken to pinch hitting, and he certainly is not reliable if you’re looking for a sacrifice bunt. But is that really what we ever envisioned for Tapia, for the guy who had a bunch of dorks tweeting “Mucho Swagger Papi” because it was the only chance we would ever have to say those words and not look ridiculous?
Even if our expectations were too high for Tapia, the way his 2018 unfolded, with all of 25 at-bats, didn’t feel entirely fair. I’m thinking of one night in particular where, as I listened to a Rockies game on the radio, the announcers were indignant when Tapia failed to get a sacrifice bunt down as a pinch hitter. He’ll have to do better, they said, if Bud Black is going to trust him.
If Raimel Tapia gets a chance to prove himself with regular playing time, I hope sacrifice bunts have nothing to do with it. I want to see the dynamic, exciting player who can make a difference. I want the fact that he’s still raw in some aspects of the game to be something he can grow through with more playing time rather than a self-fulfilling prophecy when he comes off the bench once a week.
I want to see him get the chance to show us more of this:
The highly requested KOA call of Raimel Tapia's pinch hit grand slam to flip the scoreboard for the Rockies. Emphatic call by @jschemmel6. pic.twitter.com/y0RInM4QZa— Jake Shapiro (@Shapalicious) July 21, 2018
Maybe Raimel Tapia doesn’t have the goods to be a big league starter. It would be nice to see him get an extended opportunity first. Hopefully as some of those veterans move on, Tapia can earn some playing time. Hopefully we can answer more questions than “can Raimel Tapia kill Triple-A pitching?” at this time next year.