When rosters expanded last September, several Rockies made their major-league debuts to great fanfare. Perhaps the one who best delivered on his own hype was Jordan Pacheco, a utility guy in the purest sense of the word, with a bat that knows what it’s doing. Pacheco was scouted as a middle infielder and only played there (with a little time at third) in his 2007 season. After that, the Rockies felt he might develop well as a catcher, and he moved behind the plate.
So far, I don’t know that Pacheco has delivered there defensively. I’d rather see Wilin Rosario as the backstop if Ramon Hernandez is feeling old and needs a day off. And Pacheco’s infield defense in 13 games in 2011 saw him committing 3 errors in 13
games. However, where Pacheco has really shined is with his bat. He’s a situational hitter if I’ve ever seen one, and goodness knows we need some of those. He knows how to work the count, how to hit the ball where it will make an impact, and how to show some patience. His .286 batting average doesn’t really tell the whole story, nor does his -0.3 WAR (via Fangraphs).
Instead, look to his 14 RBI’s in just 88 plate appearances, despite only 3 extra-base hits. Look at the fact that he only struck out 9 times. And just trust my gut on this one – in September, when the game was late and close, I was always happy to see Pacheco coming to the plate. He delivered more often than not, and he’s still got a long way to grow.
Pacheco’s best chance at a starting spot coming into the regular season will be at third base. Casey Blake, the guy we signed just to man the hot corner, likes to hurt himself, and if he proves even more brittle than we originally feared, he will have to clear the way for a younger, stronger guy to take the everyday job. That guy could very well be Jordan Pacheco (though it could also be Nolan Arenado, so let’s not get carried away). I’d be thrilled to have Pacheco’s bat in the lineup every day, preferably hitting near the bottom since he’s good at driving in runners. Defensively, he has some work to do no matter the position, but that’s what spring training is good for. Pacheco’s 2012 fate is uncertain, but I think it’s safe to say we will see him somewhere, doing something good.