Will Ryan McMahon become the next Nolan Arenado at the plate and at the hot corner for the Colorado Rockies?
Fans of the Colorado Rockies would probably like nothing better than to see “RyMac” emulate Arenado, the eight-time Gold Glove Award winner and five-time All-Star, who will be taking his talents to St. Louis this season following a trade last month between the Rox and Cardinals.
But, in fairness to McMahon—or any other player for that matter—expecting to duplicate the numbers both offensive and defensively that Arenado put up in his eight years with the Rockies is not realistic. As spring training gets underway for Colorado in Scottsdale, Arizona, McMahon is perhaps one of—if not—the leading candidates to take over for Arenado at third base.
While five weeks of spring training remain before manager Bud Black announces the opening day lineup, Colorado Rockies fans did get a hint at the end of last season of what life might be like with McMahon at third base.
As you may recall, Arenado missed the final portion of the pandemic-shortened 2020 season due to a left shoulder injury. In Arenado’s place, McMahon was inserted into the lineup, logging eight starts at third base as part of a season-ending stretch in which he started in nine consecutive contests.
During those nine games, McMahon batted .250 (8-for-32) while collecting two doubles and two home runs. He also had multi-hit outings in two of his final five games a year ago.
Did McMahon, who made 28 starts at second base, 10 at first base, and 10 at third base a year ago while committing just 10 errors in 263 fielding chances, do anything special during those final games last year that he can apply to the upcoming season?
"“Obviously, I just think I played a lot looser,” he told the media, including Rox Pile, during a Wednesday morning Zoom press conference at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, the club’s spring training home.“Our team, unfortunately, was not in the best position. There wasn’t a lot of season left. I think we were all kind of like, ‘Hey, let’s just go out there, let’s grind out these at bats, let’s play some hard-nosed baseball and finish the season strong.’ I think, along with that, I was just a little bit more selective at the plate. Honestly, I just loosened up, had a little bit more fun with it.”"
Pitch selection will be a key for McMahon this coming season.
While the Yorba Linda, California native smacked nine homers in 2020 to trail only Trevor Story, who had a club-leading 11 (Arenado finished with eight), McMahon did have a team-leading 66 strikeouts in just 172 at-bats. In terms of strikeout percentage, he fashioned a 34.2 mark in 2020, which was 18th-worst in the majors and 6th-worst in the NL among players that had at least 100 plate appearances.
More from Rox Pile
- A Colorado Rockies Thanksgiving
- Colorado Rockies: What if Todd Helton had played football instead?
- Colorado Rockies: Charlie Blackmon out for the season
- Colorado Rockies: Injuries shift look of roster ahead of Dodgers series
- Colorado Rockies: Has Sean Bouchard earned a second look in 2023?
The four-year MLB veteran hopes to make changes at the plate in 2021 to lower his strikeout percentage.
"“Obviously, you work on your swing,” said McMahon, who finished last year with a slash line of .215/.295/.419. “You want to have a short stroke so that you can see the ball longer and gain more information. But I think the really big thing is staying within your zone. These guys (pitchers) we face are really good. They get paid a lot of money, too. If they make a good pitch, you don’t want to go out there and chase it and be looking for it out there again. You want to wait and get them on the plate and hit their mistakes.”"
RyMac would like to hit a lot of mistakes made by pitchers as his fifth Major League season will soon begin, very likely as the starting third baseman for the Rockies.
Who would have ever imagined last September that Ryan McMahon would not only end the 2020 season as Colorado’s starter at third base but would also begin the 2021 campaign at the hot corner for the Rockies?
Come April 1 when the Rox open the regular season against the World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers at Coors Field, that scenario is a distinct possibility. And it won’t be an April Fools joke someone is playing on you.