In our 2022 State of the Position article for the DH and bench, not only did I call Connor Joe our best bench player, but I also named him “most likely to find himself regular starting time depending on other roster decisions.” Back in October he topped my list of players that deserved extra looks in spring training. With a little over a week remaining until the Colorado Rockies play their season opener at Coors Field, I strongly believe Connor Joe has earned an opportunity to start at a variety of different positions.
Joe established himself as a roster regular last year with a strong second half after being called up on July 20th, earning playing time with strong performances until a hamstring injury ended his season prematurely in September.
Connor Joe - Hitting 2021
|May 7 - June 20||26||63||54||.241||.349||.278||13||2||0||6||9||13|
|July 20 - September 3||37||148||125||.304||.392||.552||38||7||8||29||17||28|
I have endless praise for Connor Joe, especially when it comes to his bat. An extremely patient hitter, Joe watches and waits for his pitch to hit while keeping his strikeouts to a minimum (19.4% in 2021) and drawing a decent number of walks (12.3%). Thanks to drawing walks and using his strong plate vision to knock base hits, Joe had a team high .379 on-base percentage in 2021. He also demonstrated that his bat has some pop by hitting eight home runs over 179 at-bats.
Connor Joe - 2022 Spring Training
A healthy Joe is continuing where he left off by putting together a strong spring training. If he continues to perform, there is no excuse for the Rockies to find a way to get him in the starting lineup. Here are the places where I believe he fits best.
With Charlie Blackmon a prime candidate to become the Rockies’ primary DH, that leaves his patrolling grounds in right field ripe for the taking. Joe picked up playing left field regularly in 2021, making 32 appearances and 27 starts. Joe would have to move to right field in order to get regular outfield time with Kris Bryant set to be the Rockies’ starting left fielder this coming season. While Joe hasn’t made any regular season appearances in right, he has played there during spring training. The Rockies could ramp up his right field playing time for the remainder of spring to prepare him for the season.
Another position dependent on the Rockies’ choice of designated hitter, Joe could find himself the Rockies’ starting first baseman if veteran CJ Cron is that choice. Joe started 13 games over 14 appearances for the Rockies in 2021. With Ryan McMahon as the starting third baseman, Joe would be the next man up for first base should Cron become the primary DH. His major competition for the spot would be prospects Michael Toglia and Elehuris Montero, neither of whom are likely ready for regular big league starts.
Connor Joe’s best shot at being a daily starter comes with the Rockies’ newest position. With the Rockies having yet to cement their DH, they could turn to the talented bat of Joe to fill the spot if they want to keep Blackmon and Cron at their defensive positions. Joe’s bat has simply been too consistent to keep out of the lineup.
The 29-year-old Joe has had plenty of career setbacks, from injuries to a cancer diagnosis. Despite it all, he stormed onto the Rockies roster in 2021 to the delight of fans all chanting “Joe! Joe! Joe!” He’s not a prospect, but he’s too good to be demoted to the minor leagues or just be a bench bat. Connor Joe deserves a chance to be a starter this season, and the Rockies have the ability to make that happen.
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Kevin Larson (@SABRSkeptic) of Rox Pile delivers a huge preview of the upcoming 2022 season. He breaks down all of the offseason roster acquisitions, how they fit in, and what that means for the upcoming season. He also breaks down some points of praise and concern for the coming season, betting odds (if that’s your thing), and answers some questions from fans on social media.
Thomas Harding, Rockies beat writer at MLB.com, discusses how the extra hard work improving his defensive skills while aiming for the every day catching role benefited both player and team. Despite a slow offensive start in 2021, Díaz became an important offensive weapon for the Rockies while his excellent defense led to him throwing out a league second best 42.1% of runners trying to steal. Díaz earned a three year, $14.5 million contract extension for his hard work, but aims to continue improving.
“Especially after I signed my extension, I want to keep improving my confidence, and keep improving myself,” he said.
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Germán Márquez’ excellent 3 2⁄3 innings with six strikeouts kicked off a mostly strong day of pitching for the Rockies. Emphasis on “mostly” because things completely unraveled in the ninth inning. Despite the Rockies holding the Diamondbacks to three runs on eight hits through eight innings, the Diamondbacks ended up winning with nine runs on 15 hits. Sophomore reliever Jordan Sheffield entered a 2-2 ballgame and delivered a pumpkin of a hanging changeup for a home run to start the inning. From there he gave up two singles, a walk, a wild pitch, another home run, and walk while recording just one out. He was relieved by Logan Cozart, who promptly gave up a third home run to result in the final score. The Rockies scored two runs on five hits, with two of those hits coming from Ryan McMahon’s 2-for-3 afternoon.
The Rockies will play the San Francisco Giants in at Scottsdale Stadium this afternoon. Chad Kuhl will make his first start and second appearance of the spring for the Rockies, facing off against Giants lefty Alex Wood. First pitch is at 2:05 PM MDT.
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