Here are three Colorado Rockies positions which could produce “X factors” at the plate in 2020.
Pitching is always going to be the key factor of success when baseball is being played a mile above sea level. But 60 games gives anyone a chance to be successful. While we’ve explored which pitchers could be X-factors during the 2020, these three hitters will make a difference for the Colorado Rockies in a the season shortened by COVID-19.
Whoever is the Rockies designated hitter
Ian Desmond would have been the perfect candidate to be the Rockies first-ever full-time DH. Since the pandemic and Civil Rights injustices of the last several months, Desmond has courageously announced that he will not be participating during the 2020 season. This leaves a big unifying hole in the clubhouse, but gives the opportunity for someone to fill the void and literally step up to the plate.
The first thought about who can serve as a full-time DH is Daniel Murphy. He struggled to adapt to his full-time position at first base after primarily playing second most of his career. With Desmond gone though, Murphy will be heavily relied upon as the player with the most experience at first. That leaves Ryan McMahon to naturally fill the void.
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McMahon started mostly at second last season and while playing DH he could give more reps to Brendan Rodgers at second. Rodgers’ season was cut short due to season-ending surgery and he could use all the reps he can get, even in a shortened season. McMahon showed he deserved to be up in the big leagues, but second still may not be his strongest position. He can serve primarily as DH and switch it up with Murphy at first when the former All-Star needs a break at first. Both added much needed left-handed presences at the plate.
Whoever is the Rockies leadoff hitter
Remember when Carlos Gonzales moved over to right field from center field? It felt like the end of an era. CarGo used to leadoff all the time and then Charlie Blackmon redefined what it meant to be a leadoff hitter. Now that Blackmon has moved to right, it feels like a similar shift. Blackmon was absolutely no slouch in 2019, but he certainly regressed from the playoff runs from the previous two years.
Blackmon’s shift now seems like a prime opportunity for Raimel Tapia to be a permanent staple with this ball club. Tapia had a negative WAR last year but improved his batting average to .275. Blackmon is the superior hitter but, if Tapia could pick up some of the weight, this lineup could be that much more dangerous to provide protection at the leadoff and two hole spots before Nolan Arenado.
Whoever plays second base
Garrett Hampson made the 2019 Opening Day roster. Brendan Rodgers is supposed to be the future of the franchise. McMahon was the best second baseman on the team last year. Hampson would be a great asset as a utility player and bat anywhere in the lineup. Rodgers needs the most reps to become the player that every prospect list has projected him to be. McMahon can be a great first baseman/designated hitter as stated earlier. This makes the most dense lineup for three players fighting over the same position.
An extra X-Factor because … duh.