Few players in MLB have improved as much from the beginning of the 2023 season until now as has Colorado Rockies center fielder Brenton Doyle.

At the start of last year’s Spring Training, he had only nine games of experience above Double-A and was listed by MLB Pipeline as the Rockies 16th best prospect.

The reports were that his defense was well ahead of his offense and that dynamic began to show up in both extremes in camp. After only 12 more games in Triple-A, Doyle was called up to the Bigs and immediately became one of the very best defenders in the game… but one of the least productive hitters.

He struck out 35 percent of the time, which placed him in the bottom one percent of the league. He was also at the very bottom of the league in expected batting average and xWOBA, and was in the bottom ten percent of the league in whiff percentage, walk percentage, and expected slugging.

It all amounted to a park-adjusted wRC+ of 43 from Fangraphs, 57 percent below the league average. The Baseball Reference stat OPS+ was slightly less harsh on him at 53 but still there was a clear path toward how Doyle could make moderate improvements at the plate in order to allow his speed and defense to truly shine.

And that is precisely what has happened.

In 60 games in 2024, Doyle has improved his batting average by 62 points, his on-base percentage by 89 points, and his slugging percentage by 65 points. His strikeout rate has dropped by 8.2 percent and his walk rate improved by 4.5 percent. Add it all up for a wRC+ that increased by 57 points and an OPS+ that jumped 52 points to place him right around the league average and 100 and 105 respectively.

Add in that he is currently tied for fifth place in the NL with 16 stolen bases and you suddenly have a player that is a threat in every element of the game, something he takes pride in.

“It’s huge,” he says of being the proverbial action player. “I’m able to turn a walk into a potential double by stealing that base, getting myself into scoring position. Or turn singles into doubles. I put a lot of pressure on the pitcher, I’m sure. He’s gotta worry about me and he’s gotta worry about executing the pitch.”

“Walking is always good,” Doyle says. “Especially being able to pass the bat along to the next guy. It’s a good part of the game to improve on and I’ve been doing that well this year.”

In this new era of bigger bases and limited pickoff attempts where the running game has returned, the “walk is as good as a double” mentality has also returned.

Bud Black was happy to hear that sentiment when I relayed it to him for additional comment.

“That’s old baseball parlance,” he says. “For guys with speed, the on-base component is something being talked about more. It’s really impactful. We think about that from a run prevention side. We don’t want to walk a guy with speed.”

“Brenton has that combination now of speed and power,” Black says. “I’m sure some teams want to challenge him a bit more in the strike zone, but you have to be careful because he does have power.”

With five home runs so far in his sophomore season, he should be able to pass the 10 he hit a year ago and might even challenge for a 20/20 year if he can keep getting on base and ultimately take advantage of frustrated pitchers who decide to challenge him.

Whether he maintains his current pace of a league average bat that plays up because of his speed, gets back to being a well above-average hitter the way he was for most of the first two months of 2024, or even dips down to being a slightly below average hitter the rest of the way, Brenton Doyle will remain one of the most-improved players in MLB.

“I made some adjustments this offseason with my swing,” he says. “The biggest thing was just trying to get more efficient and more simple – allowing my eyes to work better, keeping my body more quiet – and it’s been keeping me in more at-bats.”

By turning a handful of strikeouts into walks, and a handful of walks into doubles, Doyle has emerged as a kind of new old-school player. And if he can keep it up, he just might turn himself into an All-Star.