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Randal Grichuk got hot at the right time in 2023

The veteran outfielder thrived in Colorado prior to trade to the Angels

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. 10, Randal Grichuk: 1.0 rWAR

When the Colorado Rockies acquired Randal Grichuk prior to the 2022 season, it was with the hope that he could provide an offensive boost and a reliable defensive glove. Unfortunately, it wasn’t exactly the type of season he had envisioned due to an astronomical ground-ball rate. Still, he cashed in 19 home runs and was fairly average across the board.

In 2023, he aimed to change that.

The world had other plans as Grichuk underwent surgery around Spring Training time to address a bilateral sports hernia. As a result, he spent March and April recovering and rehabbing from the injury while players like Yonathan Daza and Harold Castro held down center field.

Grichuk played in just eight games to get his timing back with Triple-A Albuquerque before he made his season debut on April 29 against the Arizona Diamondbacks. From that day forward, Grichuk was a mainstay in the lineup, rotating between all three outfield positions with the occasional stint as the designated hitter. In total, he played 64 games for the Rockies prior to a trade to the Los Angeles Angels at the end of July.

So what did Grichuk accomplish in those 64 games with the Rockies? Well, whereas 2022 was defined by ground balls, 2023 was defined by contact and an ability to get on base. By the time he was traded, Grichuk was slashing .301/.365/.496 after 263 plate appearances. Should he have continued the rest of the season with the Rockies, there was a chance he could have seen career-highs in all three categories of his batting line.

But what was most notable was his batted ball profile.

Grichuk managed to trim a 50% ground ball rate down to 37.4% with the Rockies while increasing his line drive rate to 24.7%. Grichuk’s power was not as evident this season as he hit just eight home runs with the Rockies, but he made up for that by making more solid contact that fell for base hits and kept off the ground. Managing to increase the quality of contact worked well with Grichuk’s general ability to limit strikeouts. He struck out a total of 51 times but also had 18 walks, both of which fall into his career trends.

Grichuk’s best month came in July, which helped build his trade stock. In 16 games that month he slashed .350/.391/.700 with six home runs, nine RBI, and 13 runs scored. He had been solid the previous two months and following the All-Star break managed to find his power stroke and drive in runs. That production was attractive enough for the Angels to acquire him alongside C.J. Cron.

Defensively, Grichuk wasn’t the best, but he wasn’t a slouch. As was the case in 2022, he was best suited for defensive work in right field. In 192 innings in right, he recorded 3 DRS, as opposed to the negative marks posted in left and center field. His UZR came in at 0.7, which shows that overall he was a competent fielder that wasn’t a detriment to the team, especially once Brenton Doyle took over in center, and Grichuk found himself manning the corners more often.

Wisely, the Rockies moved Grichuk for minor league pitching with potential at the deadline.

In his two seasons with the Rockies, Grichuk wasn’t the revelation that they had hoped he would be, but he was a solid, yet average, contributor to the lineup who was also a helpful mentor to younger players.

He is now a free agent, and while a reunion isn’t likely, it could be a familiar option to bring back in case the Rockies feel their situation in right field isn’t quite set for 2024.