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Ryan McMahon proved he belonged in the big leagues in 2019

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He isn’t DJ LeMahieu, but he made the most of his first full season

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.

★ ★ ★

No. 8, Ryan McMahon (1.6 rWAR)

After getting very familiar with I-25 between Albuquerque and Denver in 2018, Ryan McMahon proved that he belonged in Denver long-term in 2019 (or however long the Rockies choose to keep him in the organization). McMahon transitioned to become a primarily second baseman this year, which came with difficult task of trying to fill the enormous shoes left by DJ LeMahieu. He started off strong, slashing .424/.470/.763 with 13 extra base hits (nine doubles, one triple, and three home runs) in Spring Training. That led him to being awarded the Abby Greer Award, which is awarded to the Rockies Spring Training MVP.

McMahon did, however, have some growing pains and hit a few roadblocks this season. In early April, he landed on the Injured List for the first time in his career after running into by AJ Pollock trying to run out a throw to first base. That was also when Daniel Murphy, David Dahl, and Jake McGee were on the Injured List. In his first game back on April 18, he hit his first two home runs of the season and went 3-for-4 with five RBI and nine total bases. In May, Brendan Rodgers was called up, which meant he and McMahon split time at second base. It certainly meant another different role for McMahon, who has been floated around the infield, but he returned to being the primary second baseman once Rodgers was optioned and later put on the Injured List with a shoulder injury.

Despite some of those roadblocks, McMahon made huge strides as a second baseman. He played in 141 games this year, after only playing in 91 in 2018. During those 141 games he hit 24 home runs and 83 RBI — both Rockies franchise records for a primary second baseman. The 24 home runs also ranked him fourth on the team behind Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, and Charlie Blackmon. He also slashed .250/.329/.450, all career highs despite a September slump that cost him some points. McMahon finished 2019 as a Silver Slugger finalist at second base, but he ultimately lost to Ozzie Albies from the Atlanta Braves. Defensively, McMahon finished with a .972 fielding percentage and committed 13 errors. As a first year full-time middle infielder, that’s not bad and will get better with more consistent reps and playing time in the middle.

Ryan McMahon had a successful 2019 season even with some of the ups and downs. There’s room for improvement, sure, but hopefully he continues the upward trajectory into 2020 and beyond. He isn’t DJ LeMahieu by any means, but McMahon definitely proved he belonged in the big leagues this year.