Welcome to the 2021 edition of Ranking the Rockies, where we take a look back at every player to log playing time for the Rockies in 2021. 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, Yonathan Daza: 0.4 rWAR
The Rockies’ outfield is in a weird state - there are a good amount of players that are fighting for a spot, and none are really true game-changers (yet). Each had their merits this past season, but one that made a strong statement and may have created a strong case for himself is Yonathan Daza.
Daza was a bright spot in what was a pretty forgettable year for the Rockies’ outfielders. After being signed in 2010, there was a pretty sizeable logjam for many a year before he’d see significant playing time at the major league level. Playing 44 games in the 2019 season, Daza hit just .206 with a double, a triple, and no home runs. His first taste of the bigs was not exactly extraordinary, and not appearing in the 2020 season didn’t help his cause much.
2021 was his big come-up, though. Making the Opening Day roster and appearing in 107 games, Daza finally found his opportunity to show the club what he could do. Check out this play from June, for example:
I show this June clip because it’s worth noting how successful Daza was in the first few months of the season versus the last few. Hot out of the gate, he hit .316 in April, .316 in May, and .327 in June. June, specifically, saw the height of his 2021 success, as he collected the most ABs, hits, runs, RBI... pretty much every offensive stat you can think of, Daza found his apex in that month. Nine-game hitting streaks will do that for you.
Unfortunately, the dreaded COVID-19 that has ravaged the world the last two years struck the Rockies in July, and Daza was among those infected. After missing some time recovering, he returned to the team but was unable to replicate his success. The sickness-shortened July and full August saw the 27-year-old struggle (albeit with fewer ABs), as he hit .103 and .179 respectively before going 8-for-29 to finish the season.
It’s worth noting, too, that the young outfielder benefited greatly from the spacious confines of Coors Field. Many hitters have shown significant home/road splits, but Daza’s were especially potent, batting .325/.359/.439 at home and .236/.304/.264 on the road.
It’s likely that Daza will contribute to the Rockies again in 2022, and has a very good chance to be the starting center fielder. One hopes that he’ll continue to take the strides shown last season, and he’ll need to to stave off the likes of Ryan Vilade, Connor Joe, Garrett Hampson, and others. Maybe that competition will light a fire in Daza to become the version of himself we saw in the early parts of 2021.