After the first calendar month of the 2021 season, Ryan McMahon was on pace to hit 50 home runs this season. Yes, you read that right, 50! With four doubles to go along with his eight dingers in just under his first 100 plate appearances, McMahon was showing the ability to frequently drive the ball for power and was looking like he was finally primed for his breakout offensive season.
Fast forward to the end of August and “RyMac” is on pace for just 26 homers with a month remaining on the schedule. Maintaining a 50 homer pace was an unrealistic expectation, but the 100-point nose-dive in his slugging and on-base percentages since his hot start shows that Ryan McMahon simply hasn’t been near the same level of hitter he was to begin the year.
To understand how we got here, let’s look at McMahon’s season in month-by-month segments to see where he started to fall off.
Ryan McMahon 2021 season by month
McMahon’s breakout campaign clearly went off the rails in June. His strikeout rate sky-rocketed and all three slash categories plummeted as he was mired in a terrible slump. It was a tough month, but he rebounded in July with an efficient month at the plate. Well, an efficient month in every category except for the power department, that is.
To right the ship and break-out from his June swoon, McMahon clearly made adjustments to better work counts in his plate appearances and cut down on his strikeouts. The results came in the form of an .861 OPS in July, with an increased walk rate and a significant dip in punch-outs from the prior month.
The extra-base power was still occasionally around as he put up five doubles for the month, but he only left the yard one time after entering the month just outside of the top-ten in the NL with 16 long balls. While McMahon’s July got his season back on track, the drop in power was an indicator of how his bat has played since the end of May.
This includes a recent 51 game stretch from June 16th to August 25th where McMahon hit just two home runs and had a slugging percentage of just .349 over 203 plate appearances (about 41% of his total season so far). He did hit two long-balls last week in a five game stretch — against the Cubs and Rangers — but since that 51 game stretch he has continued to look more like the hitter we saw in June. In his last eight games, McMahon is hitting just .160 and is reaching base less than a quarter of the time.
All of these ebbs and flows balance out to McMahon being about a league-average hitter for the season as a whole. His .776 OPS is above league average, but when adjusted for his home park it comes out to a 97 wRC+ for the 2021 season. This is not to say that he has not been valuable, as he does have a 3.7 WAR for the season. But that figure is mostly supported by his defensive value, as represented by his combined 2.6 dWAR between three different infield positions.
A league-average hitter who is a strong defensive performer at multiple infield positions is a positive piece on a roster, there is no doubt about that. But the windows of excellence we see from Ryan McMahon’s bat, like we saw in April and July, makes us believe he can reach a new level and be a core fixture in the middle of future Rockies’ lineup. But months-long droughts continue to hold McMahon’s case back.
The Rockies are currently in a position to be taking inventory for their next competitive team. While less-tenured players like Brendan Rodgers and Sam Hilliard still have time to make their impressions on making the cut, Ryan McMahon is running out of time with only two years of team control remaining after this season.
If McMahon can minimize the drop-off during the bad stretches while still experiencing the scorching hot streaks we’ve seen before, then he will be the hitter we’ve been dreaming of. If not, then it may soon be time to start accepting that Ryan McMahon is not a core piece for the franchise in the future. How he finishes the 2021 season may go a long way on how McMahon is viewed moving forward.
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The Detroit Tigers have taken great strides forward this season and have more talent on the way in the upcoming seasons. While they’re not a playoff competitor yet, Noah Yingling wonders if a play for Trevor Story could help expedite the process. On paper it does make sense, in Yingling’s opinion, however Detroit will likely need to pay a premium to make it happen.
In case you missed it, Ashton Goudeau is back in town. On Friday, Goudeau was recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque and reliever Justin Lawrence was optioned to the Isotopes to make space on the roster. Lawrence’s last appearance was on Wednesday, when he surrender three runs while recording only one out, and he has put together an unsightly 8.64 ERA in 16 2⁄3 innings with the Rockies this season.
On the Farm:
The Isotopes fell to 13 games below .500 on Friday, losing to the Oklahoma City Dodgers by a 5-2 tally. Ryan Castellani was tagged with the loss, surrendering four earned runs in three innings pitched with five walks issued. Even though the Isotopes lost by three runs, they outhit the Dodgers 9-6 in the ballgame. Ryan Vilade, Joshua Fuentes and Colton Welker all had two hits in the ballgame. One of Welker’s knocks was a solo home run in the fourth inning, his third of the season.
The Yard Goats took care of business at home to split their series with Reading at two games apiece. David Hill delivered a quality start for Hartford, allowing three runs over six innings to earn the victory. The game was close at 6-3 heading into the seventh inning, but a triple by Case Golden and singles by Jose Gomez and Matt McLaughlin stretched the Hartford run total to 10, which was enough cushion for the bullpen to hold onto. Golden and Coco Montes each drove in two runs in the ballgame.
The Indians secured their 60th win of the season, beating Tri-City for the fourth straight day. Spokane held the lead early, but the Dust Devils tied up the affair with two runs in the sixth inning. Fortunately, Spokane responded quickly with three runs of their own to bring the game to it’s eventual 5-2 final. Trent Fennell started the game for Spokane, throwing four no-hit innings with five strikeouts. He issued four walks, however. Grant Lavigne was a perfect two-for-two in the victory with two walks while Niko Decolati recorded two hits as well, along with two runs scored.
The Grizzlies took home the third victory of the evening for the Rockies’ affiliates, defeating Stockton for the third time in the last four games. The Grizzlies led by two runs throughout most of the ballgame, but Stockton was able tie up the match with two of their own in the eighth. An RBI single by Ronaiker Palma broke the tie in the ninth and Fresno was able to hold on for the victory. Zac Veen recorded two hits in the game and Mateo Gil drove in two runs with his ninth home run of the season in the fourth inning.
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