Ryan McMahon does have some strides that he has to make with the Colorado Rockies. Primarily, he has to be more consistent with his bat.
He showed great power numbers in the first 2 1/2 months of 2021, as he was on pace for 39 homers and 104 RBI through June 15. However, he was getting on base at just a .308 clip. After that, he was on a 162-game pace for 13 homers and 83 RBI but he got on-base at a .348 clip.
The thing that makes him one of the better on the Rockies is his infield versatility and his defense. By Defensive Runs Saved, he was the best defensive second baseman in the NL (despite playing only 30 percent of his games there) and he was the second-best defensive third baseman in baseball (behind Atlanta’s Austin Riley, who wasn’t even nominated for a Gold Glove). Combined, McMahon was tied for the MLB lead in DRS.
With all things considered, McMahon is not the 19th-best third baseman in baseball.
Colorado Rockies infielder Ryan McMahon is better than the 19th-best third baseman in baseball.
An account on Twitter (@MLBNerds) combined some other projections and some advanced stats to look at the best third basemen in baseball. The projection has Colorado Rockies infielder Ryan McMahon as the 19th-best third baseman in baseball.
Even excluding McMahon’s masterful defense in 2021 (and above-average defense in prior seasons), McMahon has been better than 19th-best among third basemen offensively. In 2021, by wRC+ of third basemen with at least 550 plate appearances, McMahon was 14th at 95 wRC+. It should be noted too that FanGraphs’ stats are often very harsh on the Rockies (like projections for them having a win total in the mid-70s when they went to the postseason in 2017 and 2018).
Some of the players ahead of McMahon in the wRC+ department are among the #11-#20 category too, including free agent Kris Bryant, who is projected at #12 despite having the #5 wRC+. Milwaukee Brewers third baseman Luis Urías is ranked at #20 when his wRC+ was #10.
Notably, Texas Rangers third baseman Josh Jung is at #14. Jung, who turns 24 in February, has not played a single game at the MLB level. He made his Triple-A debut in 2021, where he had an OPS of 1.088 in 35 games. He will be at the MLB level in 2022 but being the 14th-best on projections when he hasn’t been in the majors is a bit hasty.
There is definitely some great talent at third base throughout baseball and some are better than McMahon but to say that he’s 19th is not based in reality and it’s why many people laugh at projections.