Entering the 2021 season, if you would have known that Connor Joe would be the second-best offensive player on the Colorado Rockies by OPS+ with at least 200 plate appearances, you probably would have said two things.
- Wow! Connor Joe must have had a good season.
- The rest of the Rockies offense must not have been good, whether it was due to injury or just poor production from other players
Both of those assessments would be correct.
Connor Joe, by rWAR, was 5th-best among position players on the team with a 1.6 rWAR in just 63 games (43 starts). Despite playing in fewer than 40 percent of the season, he became a fan favorite.
But what should fans expect out of Connor Joe for the Colorado Rockies in 2022?
In 2021, Connor Joe played both first base and left field for the Colorado Rockies and had a very good season. He hit .285/.379/.469 with eight homers and 35 RBI. For a 162-game average, that pace would be 21 homers and 90 RBI.
ZiPS projects that in 2022, Joe will get 370 plate appearances (he had 211 in 2021) with 12 homers, 47 RBI, a .255/.350/.428 slash line, and an OPS+ of 96. It also predicts that his fWAR will be just 0.8, in comparison to his 1.4 fWAR in 2021.
Most players tend to have a bit of a dropoff in their second year (aka the sophomore slump) but, as things currently stand, the Rockies can’t afford to have that.
Partially due to inactivity and partially due to the lockout, the Rockies have done nothing to address their outfield issues. They knew that their offense was an issue entering the offseason and that the outfield was the best and most likely area to address it was in the outfield.
However, with no additions made thus far this offseason, the Rockies currently have Raimel Tapia and Connor Joe at the top of the depth chart in left field.
With the probable loss of shortstop Trevor Story and with the DH likely coming to the NL in 2022, the Rockies need more offense and, really, they’ve subtracted.
If Joe can play at the level he was at in 2021, the Rockies will have to find a spot in the lineup for him but if he does have a “sophomore slump,” he should be on the bench or in a platoon, at best but with the Rockies current lineup even if he has a slump, he would still be one of their better position players