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The Jurickson Profar experiment did not pan out

Lackluster defense and offense led to Profar’s release in August

Welcome to the 2023 edition of Ranking the Rockies, where we take a look back at every player to log playing time for the Rockies in 2023. 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.

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No. 57, Jurickson Profar: -1.7 rWAR

There is always risk and gamble when you sign a veteran free agent to join your team. Sometimes it works out and you get a nice surprise, while other times you end up with a player who is among the least valuable players in baseball

Such was the case for Jurickson Profar in 2023 with the Colorado Rockies.

The union between Profar and the Rockies was born more out of desperation than infatuation. The theme of injuries for 2023 began early in spring training and Profar’s addition to play left field was made possible after Sean Bouchard suffered a ruptured bicep. Combine this with the fact that the Rockies felt rookies Nolan Jones and Michael Toglia needed more time in Triple-A and you end up paying over $7 million for one season of Profar.

Offensive woes

On paper, the addition of Profar seemed like a decent move, albeit an overpriced one. Coming off a season in which he batted .243/.331/.391 with 15 home runs for the San Diego Padres, the Rockies believed that Profar would be the critical leadoff batter to help boost the offense and provide some more pop. He would also bring an impeccable ability to put the ball in play and get on base via the walk, all while playing a decent left field defensively.

Profar’s offense got off to a rocky start (no pun intended). Due to signing so late in March, the only spring training that Profar had was playing four games for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic and a week of action in extended spring training camp. In fact, the Rockies started the season with only 25 players in San Diego because Profar was technically on the active roster despite not being with the team.

Profar’s first month was fairly unremarkable. By the end of April, he was batting .219/.300/.344 with three home runs, 10 RBI, 25 strikeouts and 11 walks. It was forgivable given the circumstances of his signing, and he was getting on base while playing decent defense in left field.

His best month came in May where in 24 games, he batted .269/.343/.452 with two home runs, nine doubles, 12 RBI, 15 strikeouts, and 11 walks. He also saw an end to a career-high 37-game on-base streak from April 15 to May 30.

The oddity of Profar’s season is that he was performing to his career average in almost every category. The problem was that it wasn’t contributing much of anything to the Rockies lineup. This is best exemplified by his struggles in critical situations. Profar batted just .161/.284/.284 with runners in scoring position and while he did manage 28 RBIs with 15 walks to 16 strikeouts, he struggled in any situation that had men on base with any number of outs.

His switch-hitting also wasn’t much of a positive factor. As a left-handed batter, Profar batted .215/.297/.328, which is understandable since he bats from that side more. But the contrast to his right-handed batting, where he batted over .280 with an OPS of .813, showed that the primary form of the hitter was more of a burden than an actual asset. By the time he was released, Profar finished his Rockies tenure with a .236/.316/.364 slash line to go along with eight home runs in 111 games.

Defensive woes

Then there was the defense.

Things got off to a promising start as Profar was dazzling Rockies fans with spectacular diving catches and plays in left field in April like the ones below.

Unfortunately, things degraded as the season went on. As a member of the Rockies, Profar recorded a -11 DRS, the fifth-worst mark in baseball this season. A nagging knee injury could have played a part in the decline in his defense this season, as his range continued to degrade and by the end of his time in Colorado he saw his playing time reduced to designated hitter while the rise of Nolan Jones took over in the outfield.

Closing thoughts

Profar had potential when the season began, but as time went on, his struggles were amplified as the Rockies continued to struggle as a whole. His stats showed that he was as he had always been, and while he found some minor success in a return to the Padres, it was a sunk cost for the Rockies as they finally turned to the youth down the stretch.

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