clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Doyle took the CF throne in 2023 and ruled it beautifully

Brenton Doyle became the second Rockie ever to win a Gold Glove as a rookie

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.

★ ★ ★

No. 11, Brenton Doyle: 0.9 rWAR

It was April 24, 2023. The Rockies were already struggling with a 6-17 record. Kris Bryant, Yonathan Daza and Randal Grichuk were all injured, leaving the Rockies outfield utterly depleted.

So, the organization called up a 24-year-old outfielder with a cannon for an arm, a 2022 minor-league Gold Glove, and speed. The 2019 fourth-round draft pick had zipped through the farm system, playing most of 2022 in Double-A Hartford before playing the final nine games in Triple-A Albuquerque. 12 games into his 2023 season with the Isotopes, he was batting .306/.404./.633 with five home runs and eight RBI.

Who would have known that when Brenton Doyle was slotted into the April 24 lineup to face the Cleveland Guardians at Progressive Field, he would go on to have one of the best defensive seasons in the outfield in Rockies history — and that’s saying a lot for an outfield where guys like Larry Walker and Carlos González once roamed.

Before making his MLB debut, Rockies manager Bud Black told the Denver Post’s Patrick Saunders, “He’s potentially a player who can do some really good things. He’s got that skill set.”

As it turns out, one of those really good things was putting up ridiculous defensive stats on his way to winning the National League Gold Glove for center field in his rookie campaign. Only one Rockie before him had ever won a Gold Glove as a rookie, and his name is Nolan Arenado — a guy who went on to win nine more consecutive Gold Gloves before snapping his streak in 2023.

Dominating the Statcast leaderboards, Doyle finished first in Fielding Run Value (20) and Ultimate Zone Rating (24.5), he was first among center fielders in outs above average (15, tied for eighth overall) and runs prevented (14, tied for second overall), second in Fielder Runs (7, behind only Nolan Jones’s 8), and sixth in Overall Arm Strength (96.1, once again behind MLB-leading Jones). His 373 putouts and 10 assists were the most in MLB in center field, he helped turn three double plays, and he registered a .997 fielding percentage after only committing one error in 348 attempts.

His diving catches made highlight reels, as did his laser throws to gun down runners who didn’t know him yet. Some would-be runs learned their lessons and didn’t dream of running on him. Doyle also wasted little time carving his name into the Rockies record books as his 19 defensive runs saved was 13 more than the previous record (Tyler Colvin in 2012).

Instead of being intimidated by the vastness of the outfield at Coors Field, Doyle turned covering all that ground into an advantage. As Doyle told Purple Row’s Renee Dechert, “I love having Coors as our home field because it definitely betters my skillset … Just having Coors the size [it is] and the gaps, it makes a lot of fields seem tiny.”

If Purple Row’s Ranking the Rockies just went off defensive stats, Doyle would be in the top three of the Rockies roster. However, going by rWar, Doyle comes in at No. 11 with 0.9 because of his struggles at the plate.

While he tended to strikeout lots in his minor league career, he finished his three-plus seasons batting .287/.347/.496 with 55 homers, 50 doubles, 10 triples, 206 runs, 62 stolen bases, 97 walks, and 371 strikeouts in 1,126 at-bats. His transition to MLB at the plate didn’t go as well as it did in the field. In 399 at-bats in 126 games with the Rockies, he hit .203/.250/.343 with 48 runs scored, 16 doubles, 10 homers, five triples, 48 RBI, 22 walks, 22 stolen bases, and 151 strikeouts.

He did make some adjustments toward the end of the season that reduced his strikeouts and increased his hits. There are plenty of reasons to believe Doyle can and will improve at the plate in 2024 and beyond.

Until then, we can revel in his 2023 highlight reel from center field.

Like this from playing at legendary Fenway Park.

Or this double play in Pittsburgh.

Or this throw that clocked 105.7 mph on the radar gun to set a Statcast outfield throw record for fastest ever and froze Toronto’s David Schneider at third base.

In just 121 days, Doyle will start up his 2024 highlight reel when the Rockies take on the Diamondbacks in the season opener on March 28, 2024.