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. 22, Garrett Hampson (0.1 rWAR)
It was a tale of two seasons for Garrett Hampson. He opened the season in a competition/platoon with Ryan McMahon to try and fill the DJ LeMahieu-sized hole at second base. This did not go well for Hampson.
In 24 games in March and April, 19 of them starts, Hampson slashed .182/.200/.273 and struck out 22 times. Anybody who watched those games will recall that it looked as bad as the stats indicate. Hampson simply looked overmatched, and it was a genuinely discouraging development for him and the Rockies.
So it was that we didn’t see much of Hampson until later in the summer. He showed gradual improvement in limited work, and then September happened. With more starts on a team that was assessing some of its young talent, Hampson thrived. He was hitting for more average, getting on base, stealing bases, and even hitting for a bit more power.
Hampson was such a dynamic difference maker that, even in a month, he might have changed the organization’s outlook on him moving forward. In September, Hampson slashed .318/.368/.534 with five home runs and nine stolen bases. It’s easy to imagine the Rockies front office joining a bunch of happy fantasy baseball owners in thinking that a star was born.
The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, but Hampson’s emergence was still a significant development for the Rockies. In the world of big bullpens and short benches, a versatile player like Hampson can be hugely valuable. The Rockies have tried to fill that role with a number of players, but they have been more in the “masters of none” category.
Moving forward, Hampson can provide that versatility while still getting regular playing time. When he does start, he can provide the Rockies with game-changing speed at the top of the lineup. That’s all good and worthy of excitement. I’m just afraid the Rockies will cite Hampson as a reason they don’t need to improve their lineup for 2020 and then put him into another role that he isn’t suited for.
But let’s not focus on the negative, not after the way Hampson ended his season. It was exciting to see him break through the way he did, and here’s hoping he can build on that momentum in 2020.