Player ratings for the Colorado Rockies: A sustained second-half slump could put Connor Joe’s future in doubt

Welcome to the 2022 edition of Ranking the rockieswhere we take a look back at each player to log playtime for them rockies in 2022. The purpose of this list is to provide a snapshot of the player in context. “Ranking” is an organizing principle derived from the Baseball Reference WAR (rWAR). It’s not something the staff discussed. We start with the player with the lowest rWAR and end with the player with the highest.

★★★

#12, Connor Joe: 0.9 rWAR

“Joe! Yes! Yeah!”

The Coors Field Chorus of Believers made this simple chant one of the funnest parts of watching home games in 2021. The San Diego native made himself popular with Rockies fans with his bravery on the field and his truly inspirational story of it. After a first full season in which he cut .285/.379/.469 to hit eight home runs, there was reason to believe Connor Joe might be making moves to contribute regularly to the big league roster in his sophomore season.

Joe made a powerful case for himself in the spring. In 14 games, the 30-year-old averaged an incredible .412/.500/.647, almost forcing manager Bud Black to include him in the 2022 Opening Day lineup. He kept things going well into the regular season, recording a hit in 16 of his first 20 games. Four of those hits were home runs, including that blast in extra innings that gave the Rockies a road win over the Texas Rangers.

(He blundered from former Rockie Greg Holland here. That’s not relevant to the story, I just wanted to include it).

Joe hit .272 in April and showed extra base pop totaling five doubles, four homers and a triple that month alone. He also walked 10 times that month, which led the team and helped spark one of the league’s best season-opening offenses. That’s a nice start.

The good spirits continued into April, when Joe recorded a very similar slash line in 24 games. The power numbers started to unravel – just a double and no homers, but hey, two threes! However, manager Bud Black had faith in Joe’s abilities as he tied for the second most games that month. Joe, the image of constancy, did the same in June.

These months are worth going through in detail because they show how well Joe played in the first half of the season. Before the all-star break, he finished batting .262/.367/.382 with 16 doubles, four triples and five home runs, along with 23 RBI. His 49 walks led the Rockies – only Ryan McMahon’s 41 even came close – and his .367 on-base percentage would have led the team had he qualified. These weren’t overwhelming stats, but they were very solid and kept Joe in the lineup as an everyday face.

However, July resulted in a demonstrable regression. Joe only managed .162 that month, easily the worst month of the season up to this point. Six doubles and another triple softened the sting a bit, but there was cause for concern. Those concerns were further substantiated in August, a stretch in which the 30-year-old batsman won just 6 for 41 in his 14 appearances. A double and a home run were the only highlights of the utterly unforgettable month, and things didn’t get any better in September as he played in just seven games and again proved largely ineffective with the racquet. What started out as such a promising season for Joe ended on a snide note.

That note could cast doubt on his future with Colorado. Joe has played most of his career as either an outfielder, first baseman or designated hitter – all of which are widely claimed as other players have made stronger arguments for playing time lately.

First base is manned by either CJ Cron or Michael Toglia. If it comes to injury or a trade, Joe could be a reasonable option as a replacement, but Elehuris Montero could make more sense as a player the Rockies would like to see mature and improve given he’s only 24 years old.

The outfield currently has names like Kris Bryant, Randal Grichuk, Charlie Blackmon, Sean Bouchard and Yonathan Daza – all likely to start before Joe. DH is probably the spot he’s best at filling, but even there the Rockies have more proven options like Blackmon and Montero.

Joe’s most likely home on the roster would be a bank role similar to the one he filled in 2021. But even there it’s unclear — Garrett Hampson is more versatile (with elite speed and the ability to play every position except pitcher and catcher), and Colorado was recently traded to Cleveland utility man and former top prospect Nolan Jones. It’s certainly possible that Joe could snatch a roster spot from either of them, but it won’t be easy.

His greatest asset remains his strike zone detection and ability to get to the base. Baseball Savant puts Joe’s walk percentage and stalking rate among MLB’s elite, and his arm strength isn’t to be scoffed at either. The biggest hurdle will be convincing Colorado’s coaching staff that their fairly limited skills are worth investing time in. He may be able to, since at first glance Hampson and Jones’ tools imply more redundancy than Joe’s. It’s hard to say, though – the Rockies may value their speed and utility over his on-base skills. We will see.

It’s a shame that Joe’s story in Colorado is drawing to a close so soon after it began. At the age of 30 he is at a point in his career that may be a crossroads. He’ll need to show himself early and often if he’s to retain a spot on an ever-changing Rockies roster. If this is the end, however, we can appreciate the fun he brought to the first half of this season and for his incredibly brave off-game story.

And the singing. We’ll always have the vocals.

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