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Ryan McMahon making most of early opportunities

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Colorado Rockies news and links for Tuesday, April 13, 2021

When Brendan Rodgers went down with an injury late in spring training, it opened the door for other Rockies infielders to get a chance at more regular playing time. After Chris Owings and Josh Fuentes turned in strong Cactus League performances, and with lefty Clayton Kershaw on the mound, the former got the nod for Opening Day starts, leaving 2020’s Opening Day second baseman Ryan McMahon on the bench.

McMahon got his start for Game 2 of the season as Owings shifted into the outfield, and he hasn’t looked back since. Through the first 10 games, he leads the Rockies in home runs, RBI, batting average, OPS, and is tied for the team lead in runs scored for good measure. While these stats are buoyed by his monster April 6th (14 TB, 3 HR outburst), he’s backed it up with consistent play across the board. He’s reached base safely in eight of the nine Rockies games since Opening Day, racking up extra base hits in half of those games.

Taking a look at some underlying metrics, we can confirm what the eye test is telling us: RyMac is seeing the ball well, making good contact, and hitting it HARD.

Colorado Rockies Batted Ball, 2021

Player LA (°) SwSp% Max EV (MPH) Avg EV (MPH)
Player LA (°) SwSp% Max EV (MPH) Avg EV (MPH)
McMahon, Ryan 26.7 38.7 108.7 93.9
Story, Trevor 18.7 50 107.9 92.4
Blackmon, Charlie 14.7 34.5 109.1 91.2
Hampson, Garrett 8.3 44.8 103.7 85.4
Statcast

Obviously, this comes with a huge it’s-only-the-second-week-of-the-season disclaimer. These stats were taken from roughly 30 batted ball events each, but they point in a positive direction for McMahon. Trevor Story leads the team in SwSp% (the percentage of contact made that comes off the bat at an ideal angle, aka not a groundout or flyout), which sounds right — Story has been seemingly making solid contact every at bat in the early going (More on that below). But it’s McMahon who has been hitting the ball the hardest, despite not hitting it as perfectly as Story.

McMahon’s latest homer on Saturday against the Giants is a good example of this — squaring the ball up, but not necessarily at the best angle.

The pitch is in the lower third of the strike zone and McMahon makes great contact, but his uppercut swing causes the ball to fly high, high up into the Bay Area sky. Fortunately, and this cannot be understated, he smashed it. It was his hardest hit ball of the year, to date, and was enough to clear the Oracle Park fence in one of the deepest parts of the yard.

McMahon has always been one of the Rockies harder hitters, but his tendency to strike out has been one of the things holding him back. After posting K%s of 29.7% and 34.2% in 2019 and 2020, respectively, he’s down to 15.8% this year — striking out just six times in the early going thus far.

Again, it is early — April hitting stats mean very little. But focusing on swinging at good pitches and keeping his strikeouts down is something McMahon has concentrated on in the offseason, and that extra work seems to be paying off already in 2021. Baseball is a game of continual adjustments, so the work is far from over for RyMac, but if he’s able to keep adjusting and stay a step ahead of opposing pitchers, McMahon may finally have the breakout he’s been waiting for.

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Tired Story of non-HRs: ‘That’s baseball, man’ | MLB.com

Despite going 5-for-11 during the weekend series with San Francisco and seemingly making solid contact nearly every at bat, Trevor Story did not score a run during the Giants’ sweep of the Rockies. He also has yet to hit his first home run on the year, having some unlucky near misses. Story, to his credit, has continued to focus on the things he can control, knowing that the results will eventually come. “If my process is right, I remove myself from those results and I can feel successful, even though it doesn’t show up.” For the Rockies, they hope his luck will turn around sooner than later, as they’re relying greatly on his production in the heart of the lineup.

Can Rockies’ Alan Trejo step in if Trevor Story is traded? | Denver Post ($)

With Story in the last year of his current contract, and trade rumors continually circling, Patrick Saunders takes a closer look at recent call up Alan Trejo’s game. “I think he’ll get opportunities,” says Bud Black, citing Trejo’s ability to play solid defense all around the infield. Both acknowledge, however, that his hitting will need some improvement if he is to produce for the Rockies.

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Hi! I’m Robert, one of Purple Row’s newest writers. I attended my first Rockies game as a wide-eyed elementary schooler, deciding then that this would be my favorite team. My own baseball ambitions fizzled out later in grade school, punctuated by being told by then-Oakland A Mark Ellis that I couldn’t make the big leagues if I couldn’t catch after missing a ball tossed to me in the stands, but my love of the Rockies remained. Despite being a Rockies fan I enjoy pitcher’s duels, squeeze bunts, and slap singles the other way. Looking forward to discussing baseball with you all, and hoping the Rockies can surprise this year!