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Wynton Bernard was the feel-good story of 2022

The 32-year-old outfielder made his long-awaited MLB debut

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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. 24, Wynton Bernard: 0.1 rWAR

We all heard the story of Wynton Bernard in 2022. The 32-year-old outfielder spent 10 years in the minor leagues, bouncing between the Padres’, Tigers’, Giants’, and Cubs’ systems, independent ball and two stints in Mexico before finally being signed by the Rockies in the 2021 off-season. In his first stint with the Albuquerque Isotopes, Bernard slashed .254/.319/.395 with 25 extra-base hits and 23 stolen bases in 100 games. In 2022, he was slashing .325/.374/.588 when he finally got the long-awaited call and then made a long-awaited call to his mom to tell her the good news:

Bernard was immediately thrust into the lineup, playing center field and batting eighth against the Arizona Diamondbacks. In the debut, he did a little bit of everything — going 1-for-3, scoring a run, stealing a base and striking out in the 5-3 victory.

“Walking up to the plate and hearing everybody cheering for me, I can’t even describe it,” he reflected at the time, with a huge grin on his face. “And then to see my family out there, just thinking about all the times that they supported me and they continue to support me… it’s just like everything coming full circle.”

In 12 total games with the Rockies, Bernard hit .286/.286/.310 with one double, three RBI, eight strikeouts and three stolen bases in four tries. He finished the Triple-A season leading the PCL in nearly every offensive category: .333 AVG (1st in PCL), .977 OPS (1st), 95 runs scored (5th), 31 doubles (4th), eight triples (T-2nd), 21 homers (6th), 92 RBI (3rd) and 30 stolen bases (5th).

Unfortunately, the Legend of Wynton Bernard may not last into a second season. The Rockies have a crowded outfield with veterans such as Charlie Blackmon and hopefully the return of Kris Bryant, as well as youngsters like Michael Toglia and Sean Bouchard. Connor Joe and Alan Trejo could factor into the mix, and Sam Hilliard’s status is also a bit up in the air. If Bernard tears it up in spring training, he might be able to break with the team but if nothing else, he was the feel-good story of an otherwise abysmal Rockies season.