We continue our review of the 2024 STEAMER Projections (One of FanGraphs projection models) with the middle infielders. They are surprisingly high on one infielder (considering his injuries), while cautiously optimistic on another, expecting one infielder to improve marginally offensively, while another stays healthy and puts up a career year.
All information listed above comes from FanGraphs.com
The Rockies need to add an infielder
Looking at this infield and my first reaction is that they are incredibly thin! They really could help themselves by adding an experienced utility infielder that can come off the bench and is maybe looking for a good bounce back situation. Some names that could work here include Kolten Wong, Rougned Odor, and Adalberto Mondesi. Ezequiel Tovar and Brendan Rodgers will be expected (and hopefully will) to play a majority of the games in the middle infield in 2024. The biggest issue with that is that Brendan Rodgers has played just 285 games over the last three years (average of just 95 games per year).
Tovar, while he put together a very impressive season, is going to be just 22 years old for a majority of the 2024 season. Of course, you would like him to play the full season and see if he can take some strides forward at the plate, but 162 games can take a toll on your body very quickly.
They predict Julio Carreras and Alan Trejo to play a combined 68 games in some form. Carreras offers some upside for an infielder (had a really good 2022 but regressed quite a bit in 2023). Trejo offers some positional flexibility but doesn't offer any upside and is nothing more than a depth piece. The Rockies could get aggressive with top prospect, Adael Amador, but he had just 10 games in AA Hartford this year and should split time between AA and AAA this year.
FanGraphs think that Tovar will improve offensively, but regress defensively
Tovar was one of the bright spots last year, emerging with fellow rookie Nolan Jones. He was solid with the bat, putting together a respectable .253/.287/.408 slash, good for a 70 wRC+. He also impressed with 15 home runs, 73 RBI, and 11 stolen bases. He put together a solid 1.6 fWAR season in route to being named one of three finalists for the NL Gold Glove award (Dansby Swanson won the award).
This is why I don't understand the predictions of him putting up a higher wRC+, better walk and strikeout rates, more home runs and stolen bases, yet an overall lower fWAR. I get thinking someone who put together one of the best defensive seasons from a rookie is bound to regress a little bit, but the glove was Tovar's calling card all the way through the minors (MLBPipeline gave him a 60-grade arm and a 70-grade field in his 2022 prospect write up). Tovar is about as good as they come defensively and expecting a similar season as last year isn't a farfetched idea at all. If he can put together a solid season offensively, Tovar could put up a 3-win season.
Brendan Rodgers will remain healthy, and put up a career year according to FanGraphs
When the Rockies drafted Rodgers back in 2015, expectations were sky high. He was immediately the teams' number one prospect and held that title through the 2020 season. The results have been rather disappointing, as Rodgers has yet to put up a 2+ fWAR season. The biggest issue with that, however, has been his health. He has played just 317 games across five big league seasons.
FanGraphs projections have him playing in 134 games, which would be the second most of his career. In pretty much every category minus home runs and RBI, they have him putting up the second best season of his career. Rockies fans would love if Rodgers could play in 134 or more games, we could see him showcase his elite offensive upside that we have dreamed about.
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