Remember in 2019, when the Rockies were long out of the playoff picture and some young guys named Ryan McMahon, Raimel Tapia, Garrett Hampson, and Sam Hilliard, among others, made September fun?
This year, even though he’s a little older than that crew in 2019, the creator of fun is 29-year-old Connor Joe. Plenty has been written about Joe from his work ethic, perseverance, toughness, and “growing legend.” The increasing fame, coupled with his magical moments on the field like Wednesday’s grand slam, got me thinking wondering: should Joe take over the leadoff spot permanently? Joe has hit leadoff in the last 15 games, and while the Rockies have been an average 7-8 team during that stretch, Joe has made it fun. With his recent success, it seems like it might be a good idea, even if it means Joe Wally Pipps Raimel Tapia, who I really like.
Upon looking at the stats, however, I came to a different conclusion. I do think Joe should get a shot to be the leadoff hitter. At the same time, I also think Tapia needs to be in the lineup, but he might be better batting eighth instead of first. The reason comes in statistics and in the personality each player brings to the team. The Rockies need them both.
Before we dive into the numbers, due to Joe’s smaller sample size, the stats are not equal. Joe needs more time to officially become the leadoff hitter. However, in his 178 plate appearances, Joe’s numbers —.292/.376/.500 — are closer to those of Charlie Blackmon than the faster-than-stronger leadoff hitters Bud Black has gone with this year like Tapia and Garrett Hampson.
Blackmon was among the best leadoff hitters in the game from 2014-2019. He was named an All-Star four times and won the batting title in 2017. Chuck Natzy is a special player and I am not saying Joe is like him. He’s a different kind of player. But the Rockies, of all teams, have proved that a power-hitting leadoff hitter can work and work well. Joe could be that kind of guy with the added versatility that he can play in the left field and first base.
Back to the statistics this season, the Rockies offensive leaders in batting average (with at least 150 plate appearances) are Joe (.292), Brendan Rodgers (.289), Tapia (.288), Blackmon (.274), and C.J. Cron (.273). When it comes to on-base percentage, Cron leads the pack at .377, followed by Joe (.376), Blackmon (.354), Rodgers (.344), and Tapia (.339). When Tapia and Joe are both in the top five in both categories, they both need to be in the lineup. The pickle is that they both play left field and Cron equally needs to be in the lineup at first. Tapia can also play center and maybe Joe can too. As much as I want to see Hilliard be able to add much-needed homers to this offense, his consistency is still an issue as evidenced by his .218/.306/.483 in his last 30 games. Another solution could come through the universal DH if the Rockies can resign Cron and Joe (86 percent of the Purple Row community was in favor of resigning Cron earlier this month and it would be easy to imagine just as high of numbers in support of Joe).
Connor Joe and Raimel Tapia in 2021
|Name and role||PA||BA||OBP||SLG||OPS||H||2B||3B||HR||BB||SO||SB||R||RBI|
|Name and role||PA||BA||OBP||SLG||OPS||H||2B||3B||HR||BB||SO||SB||R||RBI|
|Joe not leadoff||107||.294||.365||.442||.810||28||5||0||3||11||22||0||7||19|
|Tapia not leadoff||47||.306||.391||.341||.730||13||1||0||0||5||6||1||3||20|
Tapia, who was placed on the 10-day DL on Aug. 10 with a big toe strain, started his Triple-A Albuquerque rehab assignment on Thursday. He’s due back with the Rockies next week. Why not put him in the eighth spot? Tapia gets on base frequently. He’s got 19 stolen bases. He makes things happen and it could be really nice to have Joe batting two spots after him. If the Rockies can get more production from that no. 8 spot, they could be future RBIs for Joe. Right now, the eighth spot is slashing .204/.299/.374, which is not surprising for the weakest spot outside the pitcher. Tapia has proved his consistency and his value on the basepaths. Maybe this shakeup could do some interesting things with pitchers laying down bunts and getting Tapia around the bases faster and ready for Joe and Rodgers.
Joe and Tapia have only played in 10 games together so far, with the Rockies going 4-6 in those games. In all 10 of those games, Tapia was the leadoff hitter. Maybe it’s time to try the Tapia-pitcher-Joe combo.
Joe brings Joy. Tapia brings swagger. The Rockies need both as they try to create an identity for this team moving forward. It could be fun, but what do you think?
Who should be the Rockies leadoff hitter?
This poll is closed
Someone else (let us know who - even if it’s a trade/free agent for 2022)
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This is a really interesting piece from Kevin Henry about how Rockies players, specifically Daniel Bard, but also with some input from Ryan McMahon and Austin Gomber, deal with negative attacks on them on social media. Professional athletes are targets for criticism from fans who can get passionate about their teams and possibly overlook them as human beings as they post ugly messages and send nasty DMs. Being in the public eye is going to invite analysis and criticism, that is, after all, what all of us in the media and on social media do all the time. However, it’s good to see the perspective from the players on how they cope and try not to let it affect them.
Yeah, we know what that means. With three games at the Dodgers and three at the Rangers after just barely avoiding a sweep by the Cubs, the Rockies will be lucky to go 3-6 on this road trip with six games against sub-.500 teams.
Bryan Kilpatrick brings up another downer that’s getting hard to ignore. Austin Gomber, Germán Márquez, and Jon Gray are all fairing pretty poorly in August. Gray is 0-4 with a 6.75 ERA and 1.70 WHIP in 20 innings in four starts this month. Gomber is 1-3 with a 7.40 ERA and 1.84 WHIP in 20 2/3 innings in five starts in August. Márquez is 2-1 in four starts with a 6.98 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in 19 1/3 innings. Hopefully, September will be better.
Since Taylor Motter is still a relatively new face to Rockies fans, it’s nice to learn some more about him. In his MLB career, which has included stops in Seattle, Tampa, Minneapolis, and now Denver, he’s made helping people who are experiencing homelessness, especially kids, a part of his life. He’s met with kids experiencing homelessness in various cities and tries to give them gifts. He shared this information during the Kindness Night event with the Albuquerque Isotopes on Aug. 6 before he was called up to the big leagues.
On the farm
Rain ended this one after seven innings and that’s probably for the best. The Express scored four runs in the first and four more in the third off Isotope starter José Mujica. Mujica gave up two singles to start the game and then Alan Trejo made a throwing error in the first that allowed the first run to score. Round Rock’s John Hicks then hit a three-run homer and added another solo shot in the third.
Trejo hit a sac fly in the fourth to score Colton Welker for Albuquerque’s only run. In his first game of a rehab assignment to come back from a toe injury, Raimel Tapia went 1-for-2 with a double. It was only one of three hits for the Isotopes.
Max George hit a two-run double to cap off a four-run, ninth-inning rally as the Yard Goats came from behind to post a win on Thursday night. Trailing 5-3 entering the final frame, Elehuris Montero, Micahel Toglia, and Coco Montes hit back-to-back-to-back singles to cut Harrisburg’s lead to 5-4. Willie MacIver then walked to load the bases and Manuel Melendez hit an RBI single to tie the game. George then smacked the eventual game-winning double. Hartford’s PJ Poulin pitched a scoreless 1 1⁄3 for the win and Nate Griep forced a ground out, strike out, and fly out for the save.
Aaron Schunk hit a two-run homer and Ezequiel Tovar added a solo shot to lead Spokane to a win on Thursday night. Brenton Doyle also added an RBI single for an insurance run in the eighth. Will Ethridge had a solid start for the Indians, giving up just three hits, unfortunately including a two-run homer, with eight strikeouts and two walks in six innings. The bullpen followed with a near-perfect performance with Stephen Jones throwing two scoreless innings with one hit and two strikeouts. Dugan Darnell earned the save with two strikeouts in a three-up, three-down ninth.
The Grizzlies were held to two hits on Thursday night, but managed to avoid the shutout by taking advantage of an error and a HBP, which allowed Robby Martin Jr. to pick up an RBI on a fielder’s choice grounder. Zac Veen kept up his impressive hitting with a double. Fresno starter Case Williams gave up two runs in the first when the Nuts walked twice and had two hits. Williams pitched three more scoreless innings after that, but Anderson Pilar gave up three runs (only one earned) in the fifth due to two errors - one by him and another fielding error by Veen.
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