Entering the 2019 season, the Colorado Rockies opted to roll the dice by anointing a crop of their young players as everyday starters.
Ryan McMahon was one of the players the Rockies felt was ready to take the reins of playing every day at the big league level and penciled him to play within their infield, primarily at second base.
The former Mater Dei High School standout made the Rockies’ Opening Day roster but was sidelined rather quickly after injuring his elbow in the clubs’ first homestand of the season.
McMahon felt as if he was on the cusp of breaking out following a slew of early seasons woes at the dish when the injury happened. The injury prolonged his breakout and allowed him the opportunity to improve his swing.
“I felt like I was just about to hit my stride, honestly,” McMahon said via The Denver Post.
While no ballplayer wants to miss time due to injury, McMahon benefited from not being able to play and put his spare time to good use.
“I had a lot of time on my hands,” He said. “I took a lot of one-handed swings. Tried to slow everything down.”
Since returning, McMahon has been up-and-down at the plate, a typical experience for young players in the league. That said, he has helped contribute to the Rockies’ recent hot streak, hitting .286 with nine RBI’s and two home runs in his last nine games.
A core of budding players has emerged, with McMahon at the forefront. The growth and development of players like McMahon are critical to the long term success of the franchise.
Following the completion of last season, the Rockies felt as if McMahon was ready for a chance to play every day after spending the past couple of seasons between Triple-A Albuquerque and the major league club.
It was the confidence in McMahon’s development that factored into the Rockies thinking when deciding to move on from Gold Glove second baseman D.J. LeMahieu.
“I’m just trying to come up here and play good baseball,” McMahon said. I’ think the younger group of us, that’s how we all kind of look at it. We’re just trying to play good ball and help out any way we can.”
McMahon has been effective this season for the Rockies this season at the plate and has displayed his versatility on defense, earning a lot of playing time at first base throughout the absence of Daniel Murphy.
McMahon had a tremendous Spring where he was the Most Valuable Player of the Rockies after hitting .424 and leading the MLB in slugging percentage (.763), OPS (1.232) and extra-base hits (13).
The writing was on the wall for McMahon to establish his presence at the major league level this season and he has done just that through the early going of 2019, becoming an everyday player for the Rockies.
“I think I’m having good at-bats,” McMahon said. “I think I’m just missing some pitches. (But) I feel like I’m heading in the right direction.”
As the year progresses, his role and success with the team will be of utmost importance as the Rockies look to return to the postseason for the third consecutive season.