Sep 1, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies pinch hitter Rafael Ynoa (43) hits an RBI single in the sixth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
As the season gets underway, RoxPile.com is making some fun (but completely unqualified!) predictions about how members of the Colorado Rockies will fare this summer. In this edition: Rafael Ynoa.
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Rafael Ynoa burst on to the scene with the Colorado Rockies in 2014 after languishing in the Dodgers farm system for more than eight seasons without ever getting a shot at the big league level.
With the Rockies, he didn’t miss his opportunity when he debuted in September, hitting .343 with 13 RBIs in just 71 plate appearances as a third baseman, shortstop, and second baseman at the end of the year with the club.
Now, he’s made an Opening Day roster for the first time in his career. Here’s what we can expect from him this summer:
What The Numbers Say
FanGraphs lists various projection systems, which you can learn more about here.
Both Steamer and Depth Charts only believe Ynoa will play about 40 more games for the big league club this year, possibly being replaced at some point by another utility infielder (the options, I suppose, would range from Charlie Culberson to Christhian Adames, to possibly someone else).
ZiPS, on the other hand, like Ynoa to earn 460+ plate appearances, which… is a lot. No offense to him, but at this point if Ynoa has anywhere near the magic number of 502 plate appearances, it means somebody’s gotten injured, and that’s bad.
Not surprisingly, all projection systems like him to regress a lot from his .343/.380/.463 slash line (and .397 BABIP!) from 2014, which is probably a safe bet.
Call to the Pen
Ynoa’s best-case scenario involves utility work, because any sort of everyday work he sees will come at the expense of the team in a way similar to Daniel Descalso being an everyday player (i.e., Troy Tulowitzki, Nolan Arenado, or DJ LeMahieu see a significant injury during the year).
As a utility player, though, Ynoa can do what he’s shown in short spurts he can do so far this year: pinch-hit, fill in on the infield when he’s called upon, and every so often spell the starters on a scheduled day of rest throughout the year.
It seems like the Rockies have had good luck with utility player and pinch hitters throughout their 20-year history (well, with the exception of Charlie Culberson), so Ynoa could fit very well into that line of successful bench role players.
Ynoa’s one worst-case scenario would be to see him as an everyday player. He obviously doesn’t have the skills that Tulo, Arenado, or LeMahieu do (but who does?), and he’d get found out over the long run if he has to play every day. Other than that, considering his year last summer with the Rockies, he should be a pretty effective role player for the club.
I like Rafael Ynoa a lot, and there’s no secret I want to start his fan club, so, yeah. I think he’s going to do just fine as a utility guy with the Rockies, and thanks to the fact that he switch hits, and that he can play every infield position, I think Ynoa will stay in the big leagues the entire season as a bench option for Walt Weiss and the Rockies.
Expect him to hit over .275, get his fair share of doubles, play third, and maybe second, whenever Arenado or LeMahieu need a spell, and generally be a pinch-hitting option for the Rockies off the bench all year.
Give us your predictions!