Raimel Tapia became the worst hitter on the Rockies so slowly I didn’t even notice.
Partly, that’s because he started out so well and seemed like he was going to fulfill those prospect hopes we all laid on him. For the first six weeks of the season, Tapia was one of the best hitters on the team. We even made a Tapia shirt. He took advantage of some extra playing time due to Charlie Blackmon’s injury, and in the his first 40 games (from Opening Day until May 17) he hit .295/.336/.571, which was good for a wRC+ of 118. It wasn’t all good news though. He was striking out a lot — about 30% of the time — and wasn’t walking very much. He also seemed to be the beneficiary of some BABIP luck, as he was hitting .394 on balls in play. It’s high, but not too high for someone with speed and who doesn’t put the ball in play that often on account of all the strikeouts. Despite that though, things were looking really good for Tapia.
Except now we’re back where we started. Since May 18, Tapia has been the worst hitter on the Rockies. By a lot. In 22 games and 92 plate appearances (the fourth most on the team since then), Tapia is hitting .216/.250/.284, which translates to a wRC+ of 25. In that time he’s striking out 10 percentage points less — about 20% of the time — but isn’t walking any more. And his BABIP has nosedived to .275.
The polarizing prospect is having a polarized season. You might criticize this look by picking somewhat arbitrary dates to divide Tapia’s season into two, as I would do, but it actually looks worse when we just look at his season as a whole: .260/.299/.445, for a wRC+ of 77. Among players to log at least 100 plate appearances for the Rockies, that’s only better than Garrett Hampson and Mark Reynolds, both of whom are on the wrong side of the Mendoza line.
We know Tapia has swagger. But I don’t think we know yet if it’s swagger enough to be more than a fourth outfielder.