Welcome to the 2019 edition of Ranking the Rockies, where we take a look back 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. 28, Yency Almonte (0.1 rWAR)
Yency Almonte was something of a yo-yo player for the Rockies in 2019, with five separate spells with the big club throughout the season.
Almonte’s 2019 was almost exactly evenly split between Triple-A Albuquerque and the big club, as he made 30 appearances for the Isotopes and 28 for the Rockies.
With the Rockies, Almonte was unable to replicate the success from his 2018 cameo, in which he posted a 1.84 ERA in 14 2⁄3 innings. Given more extended exposure at the highest level, Almonte had some struggles, with a 5.86 ERA and 5.51 FIP in 34 innings of work, striking out 29 while opponents hit .275 against him. Despite the surface numbers, Almonte’s ERA+ was just a shade below average at 94.
Part of the struggles for Almonte in 2019 may have been the fact that Bud Black never seemed to settle on a consistent role for him. At times, Almonte was used as a multi-inning reliever for the Rockies, throwing as many as 51 pitches in an outing against the Pirates in August, and at times he faced just one batter being pulled.
Regardless of his role, Almonte’s best pitch, his slider, will be key for him going forward. Opponents hit just .115 and slugged just .180 against Almonte’s slider in 2019, and had a whiff rate of 41.7% against it. Also, his slider use spiked to 54% in September, a month that saw him strike out 11 in 8 2⁄3 innings (11.4 K/9) after striking out 18 in 25 1⁄3 innings (6.4 K/9) prior to the season’s final month.
Perhaps Almonte found a formula in September that can catapult him into being the next Scott Oberg, or perhaps it was just a blip on the radar. At age 25, the Rockies really don’t know what they have with Almonte yet, and 2020 could be a big year in determining the path of his career.