Ryan McMahon has played all over the infield during his steady progression through the Rockies’ farm system and to the majors. That flexibility is paying off, as he’s now in a battle for the starting second baseman job.
The Rockies drafted McMahon as a third baseman in the second round of the 2013 draft. He quickly rose through the ranks of the Rockies minor league system before making his major league debut on August 12, 2017. However, since he was blocked at his primary position, the Rockies began exposing him to other infield positions — namely first and second base. Initially, he worked on converting from third to first during the 2016 season and worked on honing his skill set in 2017, to the point where he was given the opportunity to compete for the starting job in 2018. Ultimately he made the Opening Day roster in a backup role.
During the 2017 season, McMahon also began adding second base to his repertoire. In 2017 alone, he spent 490 innings at first, 325 at second, and 210 at third. This positional flexibility allowed him to be called up multiple times during the 2018 season to fill in around the infield. His most consistent playing time came in May, when he played second while DJ LeMahieu was injured. Because of his positional flexibility, McMahon finds himself in a position battle once again.
“It’s crazy . . . it’s how this game of baseball is nowadays” said McMahon about his second major position battle in as many years. “It’s so competitive, so yeah. [I’m] just working hard, all the guys are.”
So far, his work has paid off. In nine Spring Training games (six at second base), he has hit .500/.591/.944. In comparison, Garrett Hampson — McMahon’s main competition at second — has hit .313/.421/.688 in the same number of games (five at second base). The question then remains, what role does McMahon have on this team? This is his second major position battle, and he has been shifted all around the infield. Are the Rockies just trying to put him somewhere in the lineup, or do they actually see him as their answer at second base?
“That’s a good question. I don’t really know,” he said. “I don’t really have any expectations on it. I’m just gonna go out there and whatever they ask me to do, I’m gonna be ready to do.” This is especially the case for players on National League teams, as McMahon observed. In the NL more than the AL, it is more common for players to be part of a double switch or play multiple positions to accommodate pinch hitters. McMahon understands the complexity of his role within an NL organization, adding that he’s “just trying to stay ready and be ready to help wherever [I] can.”
McMahon looks poised to repeat on the Opening Day roster, and if he keeps up his red hot Spring then he might solidify his role as the new Rockies starting second baseman.