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Yonathan Daza took major steps forward in 2022

A shoulder injury took him down for 22 games, but don’t count him out for 2023

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. 8, Yonathan Daza: 1.1 rWAR

Yonathan Daza debuted in April 2019, but then ran out of options in 2021, forcing the Rockies’ hand on whether or not to keep the outfielder. They did indeed decide to keep him and Daza has really solidified himself in the Rockies outfield. Long touted as a defensive wizard in center field, Daza finally came around offensively this year.

His .301/.349/.384 slash were all career-bests, as were his 34 RBI and 26 walks. His 14.2% K% and 93 wRC+ were also career-bests. And this was all despite missing 22 games in August and September due to a dislocated shoulder. Upon his return, Daza went 2-for-4 with a double, a home run, four RBI, and two runs scored. In the final month of the season, Daza went 28-for-101 (.308) with seven doubles, a triple, a homer, 16 runs scored, 10 RBI and an .800 OPS. Oh, and I forgot to mention that he ranked in the top five on the team in runs scored (56, 5th), doubles (21, 5th), triples (2, T-4th), average (.301, 2nd), and on-base percentage (.349, 3rd).

Not too shabby.

For a deeper dive, Evan Lang profiled Daza’s emergence in mid-September.

Thomas Harding reported in May that Daza began adding aquatic workouts to his regime in hopes of building muscle mass and making gains in slugging categories. It seems to be working, considering that his slugging percentage was up 29 points from 2021.

While Daza was originally expected to be a defensive replacement at best, he’s been showing that he has value both on and off the field. His -6 DRS was a career-worst, but some of that might be due to his shoulder injury. Daza was also cited by rookie shortstop and fellow Venezuelan Ezequiel Tovar as a mentor to him and other Latino players.

“I’ve talked to quite a bit of guys, but mostly Daza,” Tovar said after his debut. “Daza and [I] go way back; he’s practically my neighbor in Venezuela.”

Now, the Rockies will likely have a crowded outfield in 2023 with players like Sean Bouchard, Kris Bryant and Randal Grichuk. Connor Joe may be back, or he may not. And if he does come back, it’s difficult to say what position he will play. Alan Trejo has also been rumored to be testing out playing in the outfield. Brenton Doyle was also recently protected from the Rule 5 Draft and who knows... we might see Zac Veen soon! The Rockies recently had a very left-handed outfield and now they have a very right-handed outfield, so we’ll have to see how the offseason shakes out to see where Daza fits in for 2023. But he certainly had a breakout year in 2022 and is making a strong case for coming back.