Alright, enough is enough. The competition is over. The Opening Day starter at second base for the Colorado Rockies has been decided. Sorry Garrett Hampson, but Ryan McMahon has all but locked it up.
After seven seasons, the Colorado Rockies will enter the season with a new starting second baseman. With the departure of 3-time Gold Glove winner and 2016 battling champion DJ LeMahieu to the New York Yankees, the competition to replace him was going to be fierce.
The battle between Ryan McMahon, Garrett Hampson, Pat Valaika, and Brendan Rodgers had been whittled down to Hampson and McMahon. After solid performances from both throughout camp, there is now no denying that Ryan McMahon is the most deserving of the majority of the playing time at second come the start of the season.
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McMahon has lit up the scoreboard all spring long and keeping him out of the Opening Day lineup would be unfathomable. After another huge day at the plate on Monday against the Reds (2-for-3 with a 466 ft blast to center, a double, and 2 RBI), he is now hitting an eyebrow raising .444 in 45 at-bats with 3 HR, 11 RBI, and 11 runs this spring with a little more than a week left to play before the regular season.
With him in the everyday lineup, he will bring some power in which LeMahieu didn’t in past seasons. He has also provided solid defense and can give Bud Black some flexibility by being able to play first and third base.
This doesn’t mean Garrett Hampson won’t see his fair share of time at second. The left handed hitting McMahon splits against lefties has been sluggish which will lead to some platooning opportunities for Hampson along the way. This also frees up Hampson to be the super-utility off the bench as he plays multiple infield positions as well as center field. His speed will also be useful as a pinch-runner.
The 24-year-old McMahon has shown that he has the potential to be a star in the making. He will now have to prove it over the course of a 162-game season.
As hard as it will be to see someone other than LeMahieu at second, rest assured that Ryan McMahon has proven (at least over the course of spring training) that it will be in good hands.