I don’t think anyone will argue that Garrett Hampson is a fun baseball player. The 26-year-old is one of the fastest players in the Majors, has phenomenal instincts on the basepaths, and is a more than capable fielder at three valuable up-the-middle positions. He has all the traits of a classic leadoff man.
Unfortunately, Major League players have to hit to some extent to remain relevant, and Hampson hasn’t done that so far in his career. After 818 PAs (not an insignificant number), his career slash stands at .245/.303/.399, and you don’t need me to tell you that’s not up to par. Hampson both hasn’t slugged and hasn’t gotten on base at a good enough rate. What’s the issue? What’s the fix? Is there a fix?
Let’s start out with some of his issues first. Garrett Hampson’s biggest problem to me is he’s caught in the middle. Hand-eye coordination? Solid, not plus. Game power and raw power? Both subpar. Plate coverage and overall bat control? Again, just okay. In other words, no hitting trait of his is distinctly plus, aside from his really good eye and discipline, but even then, he can’t put his eye to good use because pitchers challenge him without fear, knowing he won’t punish them very often, and knowing they can essentially get him out without having to make the perfect chase pitch.
This is a really bad place to be in as a hitter, because it leaves you being average or below average at everything, with no real outlier trait to help you stand out. An example of a hitter with only one plus trait being good would be White Sox 2B Nick Madrigal, a player with basically no power whatsoever (seriously, he has 20/30 grade power) and just average plate discipline. In his case, his legit 80 grade bat control has turned him into a very productive hitter (114 wRC+ for his career) despite all his other deficiencies. Yet another example would be Cardinals OF Tyler O’Neill who, despite having huge swing-and-miss issues and poor plate discipline, has made use of his 70 grade raw power to slug .465 for his career and be a perfectly above average hitter (107 wRC+) during his time in the Majors so far.
This is exactly why I’m not very optimistic on Hampson moving forward, and I’m not even sure if there is a fix here. He simply doesn’t have the power nor the hit tool to make use of his good eye, and those aren’t things that can be changed overnight. There is no clear plus tool with the bat on his hands. And I think the Rockies know this, too, because his playing time has begun to slip; he’s had just 13 PAs in the past week or so, and two came as a pinch hitter.
Even with yesterday’s start at second base in place of Brendan Rodgers, the room for Hampson to be a starter is shrinking daily. Yonathan Daza has effectively taken over in center and whether it’s right or not (it’s not), the return of Chris Owings adds a player of a similar profile to the roster. Rodgers is already an everyday player in the middle infield, and Ryan Vilade will almost surely get a look in one of the OF corners in 2022. Is it even a possibility he gets at-bats on a daily basis?
And really, is this all there is to Garrett Hampson? Is he destined to be just a utility man and designated runner? Or can he make a change and turn himself into a regular? We don’t know for sure right now, of course, but this is going to be interesting to follow moving forward.
★ ★ ★
You know, if you would’ve told me before yesterday’s game that Germán Márquez would throw a complete game one-hit shutout on 92 pitches (a Maddux!), I would’ve signed up for it with no questions asked. Baseball has a funny way of doing things, however, and that one-hitter will most likely feel bittersweet for both Márquez and Rockies fans. The righty came within three outs of the first ever no-hitter at Coors Field by a Rockies pitcher, and succeeded in making me a nervous wreck from the sixth inning onwards. Seriously, my heart was pounding so hard I thought my chest was going to explode.
Jack Wynkoop has always been an interesting guy to me. A finesse pitcher who gets outs via weak contact and command, it seems the Rockies have decided he wasn’t going to be able to carry his steady Minor League success to the Show, so they have decided to turn him into a full-time reliever. Wynkoop talks about the change in mentality that is required when going from starting to relieving, what he’s learned from guys like Daniel Bard and Dom Núñez, and more.
In short: admit that this is a rebuild, hire a GM sooner rather than later, trade off pieces (even Germán Márquez should be in trade talks), beef up baseball ops (analytics, data, execs, scouting, etc)... and change the uniforms? That last proposition caught me off guard, but I can’t say I hate it. Just keep purple as the main color, re-design the logo and uniforms, and we’re good to go.
On The Farm
At Double-A, Hartford saw its contest with the Altoona Curve suspended due to rain, and they’ll likely play a doubleheader on July 1st to make up for it. The rest of the teams in the farm system all took the field on Tuesday.
A close game that saw the Isotopes strand the tying run at third base, with two out in the 9th inning. Catcher Brian Serven (No. 43 PuRP) and DH Nick Longhi combined to go 7-for-9 with a walk, but the offense left runs on the table, going 3-for-14 overall with RISP and stranding 16 baserunners. Starter Brandon Gold was nothing spectacular in a no-decision (5.0 IP, 8 H, 3 R/3 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HR), and Jesús Tinoco ended up taking the loss in relief after allowing one earned run (that ended up scoring after he left the game) in 2+ IP. Albuquerque drops to 15-33 with the loss.
The Indians were dominated by Tri-City starter Davis Daniel, whose final line (7.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R/3 ER, 0 BB, 13 K, 3 HR) tells you all you need to know: every run came on scattered solo homers (two from RF Cade Harris), and Spokane’s bats couldn’t create any sort of traffic on the bases aside from that. No. 23 PuRP Will Ethridge took the loss after a poor start (5.0 IP, 9 H, 4 R/4 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 0 HR), and the Dust Devils added three more runs against the bullpen for good measure. The Spokane Indians are now 22-27 and will look to rebound on the second game of the set Wednesday afternoon.
When you go 1-for-7 with RISP and hit zero homers, you’re going to have a tough time scoring runs, as the Fresno Grizzlies found out on Tuesday. Every starter got on base exactly once, but they couldn’t string the hits together to score more than once. No. 17 PuRP Sam Weatherly was unable to continue his torrid pace in this outing and took the loss (5.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R/3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 HR), with most of the damage coming on a three-run homer in the top of the first. The loss puts the Grizzlies at a still strong 30-19 record, but now four games back of the first-placed San José Giants.
★ ★ ★
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