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. 23, Alan Trejo: 0.2 rWAR
If you’re a fan of Hamilton: An American Musical (like I am), you’re probably familiar with one of the production’s catchiest tunes, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “My Shot.” Actually, let me drop the video here.
“My Shot” is a declaration of intent from a young Alexander Hamilton as he begins his political career. And while Alan Trejo, who’s spent much of his career as the Rockies back-up shortstop, may seem a strange comparator with one of the Founding Fathers, both are early in their careers and trying to break into a system.
Consider the in-between baseball world in which Alan Trejo has found himself. He spent last year and the the beginning of this year in the shadow of All-Star shortstop Trevor Story. After Story left in free agency, surely Trejo must have thought this might be his moment. Instead, the Colorado Rockies signed José Iglesias to a one-year deal, sending Trejo back to Albuquerque. Meanwhile, all anyone can talk about is the up-and-coming-defensive-wizard Ezequiel Tovar.
This year, Alan Trejo showed what he could do.
How Good Was He?
When utility infielder Alan Trejo had opportunities in 2022, he took them. Here’s his entire career with the Rockies as shown by FanGraphs:
On Trejo’s first was call up in 2021, he did don’t see much success, earning a lowly wRC+ of 37 over 50 plate appearances, though he did have one home run.
In 2022, Trejo had 125 plate appearances with the Rockies in which he hit four home runs and earned a much-improved wRC+ of 92. All of his offensive metrics improved, and he slashed .271/.312/.424. Actually, Trejo’s Baseball Savant spray chart is dotted with singles all over the outfield, like this one:
In other words, he has shown the ability to make contact and produce the kinds of hits that are valuable at Coors Field.
Interesting note: although Trejo has completed his aeronautic engineering degree, which required substantial math and physics, he doesn’t get too caught up in the data.
“I try not to dive into math or numbers in baseball because I feel like I always go down a wormhole, worrying about stuff like that,” he said. “So I try to stay away from looking at my numbers as much as I can.”
Instead, he reviews them at the end of the month to “decompress and digest all the information of that month and go from there.”
Defensively, the Rockies moved him around, using him at third (17 innings), second (107 innings), and short (161 innings). While in terms of DRS, he was a positive defender at second and third, at shortstop he earned a DRS of -5, which suggests his glove continues to evolve.
Trejo feels like he’s been an effective utility player for the Rockies.
“I think that I’ve embraced my role pretty well,” he said, adding that he’s “a guy that’s going to come up from the minor leagues and just give it his 100% effort in trying to help the team win.”
What’s Next for Trejo?
That’s a good question. While the odds are good that the Rockies will not re-sign Iglesias, if Ezequiel Tovar is ready, it is assumed he will break spring training with the team.
Where would that leave Alan Trejo?
Late in the season, someone mentioned on a broadcast that the Rockies may try Trejo in the outfield, a position with which he is unfamiliar.
“I’ve never played outfield before,” he said, “but I’ll definitely start working on it in the offseason.”
In fact, preparing for that potential new role is part of his offseason training plans.
“Obviously, I want to get a lot faster. I want to be more of an impact on the base paths,” Trejo said. Currently, his foot speed is 26.7 ft/s, which is below league average and makes him one of the slower members of the Rockies roster, so it would make sense that he would want to improve this part of his game, especially if he’s going to spend some time in the outfield.
For Trejo, though, it’s about being a true utility player.
“I want to be more versatile,” he said of his offseason work, “so just practicing short, second, third, maybe outfield — just getting stronger for next year.”
Prediction: In 2023, the Rockies intend to make Alan Trejo the new Garrett Hampson, that guy who can play just about anywhere. Hampson’s super weapon is his speed, but 2022 saw him having a career-worst season with a 55 wRC+, which Evan Lang has discussed. If a player can’t get on base, being fast isn’t worth much.
Trejo showed in 2022 that he can outhit Hampson, and Bill Schmidt has made clear that the Rockies are looking for players who can hit with power and drive in runs.
Then there’s the matter of salary. In 2022, Garrett Hampson’s base salary was $1,862,500 while Trejo’s was $702,000. Both will see raises in 2023, but Trejo stands to make significantly less than Hampson. It would not be surprising to see the Rockies take that cost saving.
That’s a long way of saying that it’s possible Hampson will not be back, and the Rockies will attempt to use Trejo in his utility position.
Whether it will work, I do not know.
But I am certain he will not throw away his shot.