One of the bright spots for the Colorado Rockies in 2021 was the emergence of veteran minor league outfielder Connor Joe. Joe’s hard work, offensive consistency, and infectious energy not only made him an instant fan favorite but also earned him a surprise role as a lineup regular until a season-ending injury.
Joe was one of a handful of players that helped the Rockies to a record above .500 in the second half of their season–a record significantly better than that of the division foe San Diego Padres.
Connor Joe should be near the top of Colorado Rockies who have earned an everyday role in 2021
In just 63 games, Connor Joe’s 1.6 WAR was seventh on the Colorado Rockies in 2021, ranking above Brendan Rodgers, Jon Gray, and Charlie Blackmon. His 117 OPS+ was second only to C.J. Cron’s 130. Joe made a name for himself with a knack for getting on base and seemingly always finding a way to drive in runs. He hit .400 with a 1.106 OPS with runners in scoring position and his batting average and OPS actually improved with 2 outs and runners in scoring position to .455 and 1.311 respectively.
In 52 plate appearances with runners in scoring position, Joe struck out only 6 times and grounded into just a single double play, meaning he consistently got the ball in play and put up quality team at-bats with remarkable consistency when it mattered the most. In 26 plate appearances with runners in scoring position and two outs, Joe struck out just twice.
In addition to his clutch hitting, Joe’s power numbers came as a surprise. He collected 8 home runs to go along with his 35 RBI and .285 batting average. All 8 home runs and 29 of his 35 RBI came during a 37 game stretch in his second stint with the club from late July until an injury ended his season in early September. He hit .304 with a .944 OPS during that span.
The question will be whether or not Joe can sustain some form of this success if he gets a chance to play every day in 2022.
It is only reasonable to assume there will be some regression. Continuing the 35-home-run pace he was on for his torrid second stint with the club is unlikely. But if the Rockies are looking for a clutch hitter who brings energy and might hit 15-20 home runs, Joe looks like a guy who might be able to do just that.