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Garrett Hampson’s struggles might leave his future with the Rockies in doubt

The Rockies’ super utility speedster has a cloudy future after a career-worst 2022 season.

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.

★ ★ ★

No 42, Garrett Hampson: -1-1 rWAR

Garrett Hampson entered the 2022 season as a victim of the Colorado Rockies’ offseason decisions when it came to filling holes in the lineup. With the departure of Trevor Story, his native position of shortstop should have been his to earn until the Rockies brought in veteran José Iglesias as the full-time starter. When the Rockies brought Kris Bryant and Randal Grichuk into the fold, an already-packed outfield became even more crowded as he lost playing opportunities in his secondary position of center field. Second and third base? Already quite occupied by Brendan Rodgers and a freshly-extended Ryan McMahon.

Then came the injuries.

Hampson suffered a hand contusion in April that lost him almost a full month of playing time, then landed on the COVID-19 IL in June for a brief period of time. The crowding in his usual spots and the early injury combined with a generally poor season led to Hampson taking his fewest plate appearances in a full season—discounting 2020—since his 2018 rookie year.

To put it mildly, Garrett Hampson did not have a good season offensively. His .211/.287/.307 slash all are career-worsts. His 42 hits, two home runs, 15 RBI, and 21 walks are all the lowest since his 2018 rookie season. His .594 OPS, 60 OPS+, and 55 wRC+ are all career lows. Like many Rockies batters this season, Hampson suffered from power drain with a career-high ground ball rate of 44.7% and his two home runs are a far cry from his 11 in 2021. He also continues to struggle with high strikeout numbers. Hampson was sent down on strikes 27.9% of the time this season, the second-highest rate in his career. While his early injury and a crowded roster didn’t help Hampson in getting plate appearances, he gave the Rockies little incentive to keep putting him in the lineup card.

Defensively, Hampson did not fare much better. His -9 total DRS is the second-worst on the team and he posted a negative Ultimate Zone Rating at every position he played in 2022. Hampson is valued by the Rockies as a true super-utility player, but this season was very much a “jack of all trades, master of none” season with the glove.

There were some positives, though. Hampson’s elite speed was frequently on showcase. His 12 stolen bases led all Rockies in that category and he was only caught twice. When he did make contact, he was able to showcase his extra-base speed with seven doubles and three triples. His 9.3% walk rate was a huge step up from last season’s 6.7% and his highest walk rate since 2018. Hampson also made some truly spectacular catches in center field during the final days of the season.

Garrett Hampson’s -1.1 rWAR is not only a career-low point for the speedy utilityman, it’s also the first season in his career with a negative rWAR. With adjustments over the offseason and assistance from the coaching staff, I am confident Hampson could return to his 2021 form or even better. The problem is that the crowded roster is only going to make things harder. Most infield positions are spoken for, and rookie Ezequiel Tovar is expected to be the full-time shortstop in 2023. The outfield is as crowded as ever with Michael Toglia able to play right field, the return of Kris Bryant, and Sean Bouchard impressing in September.

Unfortunately for Garrett Hampson, his future with the organization looks cloudy right now.