clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

How should Rockies fans view Ryan McMahon’s ceiling as he races toward record Ks?

Colorado Rockies news and links for Friday, August 25, 2023

At his current pace, Ryan McMahon could become the all-time Rockies leader in a category no one wants to be king of — most strikeouts in a single season.

Through Thursday’s 5-3 loss at Tampa Bay, McMahon has recorded 157 strikeouts (fourth most in MLB this season) in 513 plate appearances. Trevor Story sits atop Colorado’s notorious leaderboard with 191 strikeouts from 2017. This season, McMahon is striking out once per every 3.27 plate appearances or 30.6% of the time. If McMahon plays in 33 of the remaining 35 games, he is on pace to record 40 more strikeouts, bringing his total to 197.

Rockies All-Time Single-Season Strikeout Leaders

Player Year Strikeouts
Player Year Strikeouts
Trevor Story 2017 191
Mark Reynolds 2017 175
Trevor Story 2019 174
Trevor Story 2018 168
C.J. Cron 2022 164
Ryan McMahon 2019 160
Ryan McMahon 2022 158
Andrés Galarraga 1996 157
Ryan McMahon 2023 157*
Ryan McMahon 2021 147
*Through 127 games this season

McMahon’s highest strikeout year previously came in 2019 when he fanned 160 times. He’ll likely top that by the end of the week. He’s posted a golden sombrero (three strikeouts in a game) 15 times, struck out twice in 30 games, and managed no strikeouts in 26 games this season.

McMahon also leads the Rockies in home runs with 21 (tied for 34th in MLB) and RBI with 65 (tied for 55th in MLB). Sluggers often swing big, getting homers or strikeouts. After all, Reggie Jackson is known as Mr. October and hit 563 homers in his career, but he also struck out 2,597 times — most in MLB history.

In 2023, McMahon has already surpassed his FanGraph’s ZiPS preseason projections of 149 strikeouts. FanGraphs also had him at 22 homers and he should bet that too. His career high in homers is 24 from 2019 as well, so he could set multiple career-most numbers this season.

For the last few seasons, McMahon has always been hyped in preseason talks as the Rockie who will finally break through and be an All-Star. I have wanted to believe this so badly and really thought it could be true. After witnessing strikeout after strikeout, I have finally come to the realization that it’s not going to happen. I hope I am wrong, but I have to lower my expectations and just accept McMahon for who he is: a very good defender and slugger who will strike out 30% of the time.

His defense is outstanding. He legitimately deserves to be in the Golden Glove conversation this year and Nolan Arenado does not. A lot of expectations were thrust upon McMahon as Jeff Bridich dropped the Arenado bomb and walked out the door. It’s not McMahon’s fault and it’s not fair, but it was automatic.

Arenado is an eight-time All-Star who averages 35 homers with 101 strikeouts per 162 games with a career line of .288/.345/.532. McMahon averages 23 homers with 169 strikeouts per 162 games with career line of .246/.326/.434. Expecting McMahon to be in the same ballpark is just not realistic.

Trying to figure out a more appropriate way to measure McMahon’s success, I thought comparing McMahon to Trevor Story could be more fitting. A quick look at the numbers dismisses this idea as well.

In his eight-year career, the two-time All-Star averages 33 homers and 191 strikeouts per 162 games with a career line of .267/.335/.510. Even though Story’s record 191 remains his 162-game average, that number came back in 2017, which was his second season in MLB and his first full season. That season, he played in 145 games and has played in about that many three times since: 2018 when he decreased his strikeouts to 168, 2019 when we went back to 174, and 2021 when he dropped to 139.

McMahon, on the other hand, is not drastically reducing his strikeout totals. His career-worst was 160 which came in 2019, his third season with the Rockies but first full season (141 games). He recorded 147 in 2021 in 151 games and 158 in 153 games last season.

Considering his lower average and his higher strikeouts, instead of comparing McMahon to Arenado or Story, the closer fit is two other names on the Rockies single-season strikeout leaderboard: C.J. Cron and Mark Reynolds.

Cron struck out 164 times last season, which is currently fifth worst in team history. In his 10-year career, Cron still averages more homers (29 vs. 23) with fewer strikeouts (143 vs. 169) per 162 games and a better career slashline at .260/.320/.471. Reynolds struck out 175 times in 2017 and is currently the runner-up to Story’s 191. Reynolds also holds the most strikeouts in any season in MLB history at 223 in 2009 when he was with the Diamondbacks. Even in the most pessimistic McMahon outlook, at least that record isn’t in jeopardy.

Cron is a great baseball player and he even got an All-Star nod last year. Reynolds had a wonderful career. However, both players are simply in different tiers than Story and Arenado. When it comes to hitting, McMahon is in the Cron-Reynolds tier. The defense is stellar, somewhere between Arenado and Story. It’s more than enough to make McMahon a solid baseball player. He’s only in the second year of a six-year, $70 million contract that will keep him as an anchor on the team through 2027 (when he’s 32 years old).

Season after season as RyMac transitioned from rookie to now the sixth oldest position player on the Rockies roster, I kept clinging to who I wanted McMahon to be instead of who McMahon really is and what he is capable of doing on the baseball field. Maybe this way of looking at him can make me appreciate RyMac for what he does deliver instead of who he isn’t being.

It may be disappointing, but it’s just reality. Maybe that’s just the unofficial motto for the Rockies.

★ ★ ★

Injuries & Moves: Updates on Anderson, Feltner |

Good news for the Rockies pitching staff and for Chase Anderson and Ryan Feltner. Anderson pitched in his first Triple-A Albuquerque start on Thursday night since going on the 15-day IL on July 15 with right shoulder inflammation. He will make two starts and then the Rockies will see if he can return to the rotation. Feltner is also healing well since fracturing his skull on a line drive on May 14. His throwing sessions have gone well and Thomas Harding reports that he is scheduled for one more throwing session before possibly starting a rehab stint in the minors. The Rockies seem optimistic he’ll pitch for them before the end of the season.

“I’m kind of part of the problem”: Why do Rockies fans keep paying to watch a losing team? | Colorado Sun

In the fourth article in a great Colorado Sun series on the Rockies in their 30th anniversary, this installment looks at the ever-present conundrum of Rockies fans loving baseball and the team, but also supporting a failing organization with their dollars. This in-depth article by Kevin Simpson offers heartwarming snapshots of season ticketholders and lifelong fans. If you’ve got a few minutes, this is a good one.

★ ★ ★

On the Farm

Triple-A: Albuquerque Isotopes 6, Oklahoma City Dodgers 3

At one point, the Isotopes were down 3-1. Hunter Goodman hit a pair of RBI singles, Jonathan Morales and Wynton Bernard each hit solo homers, and Jimmy Herron hit an RBI double to complete a huge comeback. Chase Anderson made his first rehab start, giving up three runs on five hits (one homer) with one walk and one strikeout in 2 23 innings. Josh Rogers entered to throw 4 13 scoreless innings for the win, Matt Carasiti threw a scoreless inning for the hold, and Stephen Jones threw up a scoreless ninth to earn the save.

Double-A: Somerset Patriots 2, Hartford Yard Goats 1

The Patriots ruined a seven-inning, shutout performance from starter Carson Palmquist by putting up two homers in the bottom of the ninth for a walk-off win. The Yard Goats got their lone run in the seventh inning when Colin Simpson hit a one-out double, Bladimir Restituyo grounded out to move him to third, and Sterlin Thompson hit an RBI single.

High-A: Spokane Indians 7, Vancouver Canadians 2

Cuba Bess smashed a two-run homer, Gabriel Martinez added a solo shot, and Nic Kent drove in three runs to lead Spokane to a win on Thursday night. Kent hit a two-run double in the third and added a sacrifice fly in the fifth. Braiden Ward hit an RBI triple and Benny Montgomery added a sacrifice grounder on a night when the Indians out-hit the Canadians 12-6. Mason Green picked up the win after striking out seven in five innings, only giving up two runs on three hits with four walks. The bullpen shutdown Vancouver for the remainder of the game, adding four more strikeouts.

Low-A: Fresno Grizzlies 4, Stockton Ports 1

Kyle Karros hit two RBI singles and Andy Perez added one of his own the lead the Grizzlies on Thursday night. Connor Staine pitched six solid innings in the win, giving up only one run on five hits with eight strikeouts.

★ ★ ★

Please keep in mind our Purple Row Community Guidelines when you’re commenting. Thanks!