Welcome to the 2022 edition of Ranking the Rockies, where we take a look back at every player to log playing time for the Rockies in 2022. 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 36, Ezequiel Tovar: -0.3 rWAR
After the departure of Trevor Story in last year’s offseason, the Colorado Rockies entered a period of uncertainty in regards to their shortstop position. The signing of José Iglesias to a one-year contract was seen as a stopgap move to tide things over until the emergence of an exciting young prospect. At season’s end, we finally saw that prospect, Ezequiel Tovar, make his debut at the game’s highest level and give Rockies fans reason to be excited for the future.
The 21-year-old Venezuelan shortstop (ranked No. 1 in our midseason PuRP rankings and No. 2 per MLB Pipeline at time of publishing) made his way to the big league club’s lineup on September 23rd against the San Diego Padres, picking up two hits en route to a 4-3 walk-off victory. Tovar’s first knocks came on the first two pitches he saw — an auspicious start for the rookie. He would consistently play in the remaining contests on Colorado’s schedule, adding his first career round-tripper in the final game of the regular season (against Clayton Kershaw, no less). Tovar ended the season with a slash line of .212/.257/.333 with a homer and two RBI in nine games.
While not overpowering, Tovar showed flashes of the offense that got so many fans excited for his debut originally. In addition to his bat, Tovar’s glove impressed as well as he made both routine plays and some highlight reel web gems, including this diving effort against the Dodgers:
Fielding like that will be integral in helping to fix a Rockies defense that was near the bottom of the league in errors committed. Tovar’s glove has often been considered above-average and will (hopefully) only improve as he gets more experience at the major-league level.
All this begs the question: what’s next? Iglesias will enter the 2022 offseason as a free agent and while it’s possible that Colorado will attempt to sign some infield support, expect Tovar to get the bulk of the work short next season. His first full season in the majors will likely be a good idea of what the next generation of Rockies can do as a unit, as Tovar is expected to be joined in the everyday lineup by the likes of Elehuris Montero, Sean Bouchard, Michael Toglia, and — maybe at some point in the season — Zac Veen. These youngsters represent the continued youth movement that Colorado has undergone in recent seasons, and 2023 will be a gut check for many of them on what the trials and tribulations of a full MLB campaign entail.
The sample size was small, but Tovar’s first taste of MLB action was exciting and gave fans hope that the Rockies have found their long-term solution for the shortstop position. Eyes will be on him on Opening Day as he’ll try to follow up his debut with a full 162-game marathon.
We shall see what he has in store!