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Sean Bouchard made the most of limited playing time in unlikely comeback

Sean Bouchard could have missed the entire season, but came back late to prove he’s a major league player.

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. 13, Sean Bouchard: 0.6 rWAR

After UCLA product Sean Bouchard made his electric 2022 debut, hitting .297/.454/.500 with three home runs in 27 games, the 27-year-old had a real chance at taking home the starting job in left field out of spring training.

Unfortunately Bouchard suffered a severe injury in early March. He ruptured his bicep on a routine swing early in a spring game. Likely considered to be season ending, Bouchard had the rupture surgically repaired and the Rockies—with Randal Grichuk recovering from his own surgery—seemed to panic and brought in Jurickson Profar.

Like his teammate Brendan Rodgers, Bouchard recovered ahead of schedule from his surgery. In mid-August he was activated from the 60-day IL and sent to the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes after rehab assignments with the Arizona Complex League Rockies and the High-A Spokane Indians.

Bouchard was called up to the Rockies with the September roster expansions, though he saw limited playing time. He only made 11 starts in the 21 games he appeared in, logging 43 total plate appearances. However, he made the most of his short season by continuing where he left off in 2022: getting on base and showing considerable pop.

In 38 at-bats to close out the season Bouchard hit .316/.372/.684 while drawing four walks with two doubles and clubbing four home runs. In the season finale against the Minnesota Twins he came in as a pinch hitter and sent out his season with a bang by hitting a 392 foot, game-tying home run to left field.

Although he’s made the most of limited playing time in both of his big league seasons, Bouchard will have his work cut out for him to find more at-bats going into the 2024 season. Now that the Rockies have found starting outfielders in rookies Brenton Doyle and Nolan Jones, Bouchard will have to compete for outfield time with Charlie Blackmon, Kris Bryant, Michael Toglia, and Hunter Goodman. He will likely make the team as a fourth outfielder and corner infield backup thanks to his positional versatility, but it remains to be seen how much playing time the soon-to-be 28-year-old will get next season.