Welcome to the 2019 edition of Ranking the Rockies, where we take a look back at every player to log playing time for the Rockies in 2019. 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 lowest rWAR and end up with the player with the highest.
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No. 48: Mark Reynolds: -1.0 rWAR
Mark Reynolds was a valuable bench player in his first season with the Colorado Rockies back in 2016. He had reinvented himself as something of a contact hitter who didn’t strike out nearly as often as the slugger of his previous seasons. He was a .280 hitter (!) that season with a 101 OPS+.
Reynolds followed that up with a 2017 season in Colorado where he played more and was pretty darn productive. In 148 games, he slashed .267/.352/.487. He hit 30 home runs and had a 103 OPS+. Even if the Rockies didn’t want to play him as much as they did that season, it seemed reasonable to think they would bring him back to come off the bench and provide an insurance policy at first base in 2018.
They did not bring him back, and the Rockies played a whole lot of Ian Desmond and got a whole lot of “meh” off their bench on their way to the playoffs. So as they constructed their roster for 2019, one with Desmond shifted to the outfield, they brought back Reynolds to try and recapture the magic as a bench player.
It would be an understatement to say it didn’t work out. Reynolds struggled all season to the tune of a woeful .170/.290/.311 slash line. He had just four home runs, barely outpacing the two stolen bases he somehow managed. Perhaps worst of all, Reynolds had a .049 batting average as a pinch hitter. That’s two hits in 41 at-bats off the bench, in case you were wondering about the math.
There was probably no way for the Rockies to know that Reynolds would be that bad. He had joined the Washington Nationals mid-season in 2018 and continued to be solid as a veteran reserve for the most part, although he struggled down the stretch. Even so, it’s hard to fault the Rockies for bringing him back and thinking he could provide some stability off the bench.
It’s not hard to fault the Rockies, however, for how long they stuck with Reynolds. At no point this season did it look like he was going to get things on track. Yet they kept Reynolds around through the middle of July. Patience is one thing, but wasting a roster spot that long for an offense that was already top-heavy wasn’t really something the Rockies could afford.
So we’ll probably remember Reynolds’s 2019 for the Rockies for two reasons: how long he stayed on the roster despite his struggles at the plate and the fact that he pitched in a 19-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants in July. The former is another indictment of the front office’s poor roster construction in 2019. The latter is a reminder of the whimsical and the silliness that can make baseball fun despite it all.
Let’s wrap things up by focusing on the whimsical. Here’s Mark Reynolds pitching.
Mark Reynolds, 76mph Paint. ️ pic.twitter.com/3GV3oOFYWT— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 15, 2019