Sports are hard. At any age and any level of competition, they are just plain tough. So if you’ve played, whether in Little League or in college, you know that terrible feeling when you’re the one who let everybody down. You made the error, missed the free throw, or whatever it may be. It’s a helpless feeling.
In that moment of disappointment, as you process what happened and wish you could have a do-over, you search the sea of people, the parents, coaches, umpires and teammates. for any help, any sign of encouragement.
It’s in that moment that each team needs a player who picks everybody up. A friendly set of eyes that seems to always be there to smile, pat you on the back, and tell you to forget about it and get them next time. Everybody probably tries to be supportive, but some handle the frustration better than others. You need that upbeat, always-providing-encouragement teammate.
Watching from home, I have this sneaking suspicion that Jordan Pacheco is that guy for the Colorado Rockies. The way he’s always on that top step greeting teammates, the way he provides encouragement from behind the plate when he’s catching, the way he pumps his fist each time he catches the ball at first base.
Who doesn’t love that guy?
Follow-up question: does the fact that Pacheco seems to be that awesome teammate, and the likability that stems from that, cloud the fact that he might not be very good at baseball?
You might argue that Pacheco’s 2012 season made him the poster boy for the “batting average is misleading” camp. He batted .309 in 132 games, a rock solid number. But his five home runs and 54 RBI pointed to a guy who doesn’t have enough pop to play either spot in the corners of the infield. The saving grace was the fact that Pacheco contributed a team-leading 32 doubles. Extra base hits can cover up a lack of power, at least for a utility guy.
That’s if you only want to talk about offense. Unfortunately you have no choice but to note that Pacheco seriously has always struggled in the field. He has been described as one of those “all he does is hit” guys. But if you don’t have a position, you better really hit so that a team has no choice but to find a spot for you. What happens if he doesn’t hit enough?
That problem popped up almost immediately in 2013. It started out looking so good for the guy who looks like that guy from the Hunger Games. Remember this:
Complete with bat flip.
From there the decline in numbers was staggering. For starters, that grand slam would be Pacheco’s only home run all season. He batted .196 for rest of May and only .234 in June. He was able to right the ship somewhat near the end of the season after an extended stint in the minor leagues, but his season numbers were still underwhelming: .239/.276/.312 with that single home run and 22 RBI in 262 plate appearances. That made Pacheco good (bad?) for a -1.4 WAR, a woeful wRC+ of 47 and OPS+ of 53. There’s no way around it: Jordan Pacheco was awful this season. If you make me give him a grade, it’s hard to justify a “passing” grade, right?
So where does that leave us? Let’s presume that the truth for Pacheco the hitter is somewhere in the middle: not as good as 2012 and not as bad as 2013. That level of hitter won’t work at first base, even in a time share. Can you live with that production from your back-up catcher? Maybe. But Pacheco is shaky defensively behind the plate (and that’s a charitable description), so it is hard to say that his maybe-above-average offense is worth it.
Jordan Pacheco is easy to cheer for and appears to be a popular teammate. Unfortunately, as it stands now he is a bad defensive player who doesn’t really have a position and might be a pretty good hitter. It’s hard to say there’s a spot on the big league roster for a guy like that.