Colorado is set to be without one of its key bats from last season for at least the start of 2023. Outfielder Randal Grichuk underwent sports hernia surgery a week ago, leaving him out of action for at least the next few weeks. With Grichuk out of commission in the interim, here’s how the Rockies could look in the outfield to start the regular season.
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A Look at Grichuk
Two seasons ago, Randal Grichuk hit 12 home runs and recorded a very respectable .481 SLG in the shortened 2020 campaign for the Blue Jays. The veteran outfield followed that season up with a 22 home run campaign in 2021, along with a .241/.281/.423 slash line. Grichuk proved to be a valuable power hitter in his four seasons with the Blue Jays, but found himself in Colorado last season after Toronto dealt him for a sorely-needed left-handed hitter in Raimel Tapia and minor leaguer Adrian Pinto.
In his first season in Colorado, Grichuk hit .259/.299/.425 with 19 home runs, 43 extra base hits, and 79 RBIs. Grichuk’s 19 home runs was third-best for a Rockies team that didn’t produce all that much at the dish. Despite being in arguably the league’s most hitter-friendly ballpark, the Rockies finished in the middle of the pack in OBP & SLG and among the worst in Barrel% and Hard Hit%.
Grichuk has never been a high OPS player, mainly due to the fact that the 31-year-old rarely walks. An aggressive hitter who owns a below-average career Chase% rate of 33.0%, Grichuk has, however, been well known for pounding on baseballs. In his career thus far, Grichuk has recorded five seasons in which he hit at least 20 home runs. Not to mention, the 31-year-old — who possesses good speed and a strong arm — owns a career Outs Above Average of +18.
The good news for the Rockies is that Grichuk should be back in short order. The 31-year-old is expected to miss most of Spring Training, but may be ready to play in six weeks.
A Look at the Rockies Outfield
The Rockies outfield didn’t provide the punch that Colorado fans were hoping for last season. Toolsy outfielder Sam Hilliard hit .184/.280/.264 for the Rockies last season, while Connor Joe (.238/.338/.359) also failed to provide a punch. Both won’t be returning to Colorado for 2023, thus leaving the door open for someone like Michael Toglia to seize a spot on the Opening Day roster.
Toglia made it up to the Majors late last season, three years after being selected in the first round by the Rockies. While Toglia never sported a high batting average in his Minor League career, the former UCLA standout displayed plenty of power and the ability to work counts. Last season across two levels, Toglia hit 30 home runs and recorded a slash line of .249/.341/.511.
Zac Veen and Brenton Doyle are also close to cracking the MLB roster and could factor into the equation later in the year, but neither have played a game in the Majors thus far. Veen hit just .177/.262/.234 over 34 games in Hartford (AA) last season, while Doyle — who is on the Rockies 40-man roster — has played just a smattering of games in AAA in his career.
Without Grichuk for at least the start of the 2023 campaign, Colorado could throw out an outfield that include Toglia in right, Yonathan Daza in center, and Kris Bryant in left. Daza doesn’t hit for much power, but does possess solid bat-to-ball skills and hit .301 for the Rockies last year. Natural third baseman Kris Bryant, meanwhile, played left field last season with Ryan McMahon entrenched at third. Bryant did fine when on the field, but played just 42 games for Colorado.