SCOTTSDALE – When Ryan McMahon was drafted in the second round out of Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, CA in the 2013 MLB Draft, the baseball landscape looked a lot different.

Albert Pujols was nearing 500 career home runs, Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates was the National League MVP and Juan Pierre became the 18th player to reach 600 career stolen bases. 

A decade later, Pujols stepped away from the game after surpassing 700 home runs, McCutchen came back to Pittsburgh after four cities in five years and Elvis Andrus sat atop the leaderboard for active big leaguers with 335 career steals.

Now, McMahon is the longest-tenured member of the organization of anyone not named Charlie Blackmon. (Kyle Freeland debuted with the Rockies before McMahon, but he wasn’t drafted until 2014.)

McMahon was rewarded at the start of Spring Training last year following a 2021 campaign that produced a career-best 4.0 wins-above-replacement, according to Baseball Reference. His six-year, $70 million extension should keep him in purple through the 2027 season.

Early in 2022, McMahon scuffled on both sides of the ball. Since there’s an old baseball adage about defense being slump-proof, it was surprising to see so many of RyMac’s 17 errors last season coming during the opening months. He had recorded 10 Outs Above Average and 12 Defensive Runs Saved in 2021, numbers that not even Nolan Arenado had surpassed. It was a performance that earned him a spot as a finalist for the Rawlings Gold Glove Award.

Jul 7, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Colorado Rockies third baseman Ryan McMahon (24) fields a ground ball against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the fifth inning at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The 28-year-old eventually rebounded defensively in 2022 and was named a finalist once again. Offensively, it took until a road trip to San Diego at the trade deadline for McMahon to put the challenges of the first four months behind him.

From Opening Day to July 31, he slashed .232/.329/.365 with eight home runs. After that point, he nearly bested all his career averages with a slash line of .271/.322/.500, slugging 12 home runs in nearly half as many opportunities.

The hope is that McMahon will carry over this success into 2023 and reach 30 home runs for the first time in his career. But first, let’s dig into his offseason and a recent infatuation with the fastest growing sport in America.

Sep 24, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies third baseman Ryan McMahon (24) hits a home run during the first inning against the San Diego Padres at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: John Leyba-USA TODAY Sports

Patrick Lyons: This was a much more normal offseason. Shorter, too. What did you get up over the past few months?

Ryan McMahon: I kept it normal and visited with a bunch of family. I was here (in Arizona) most of the offseason ever since November 1. Been in here with (Brian) Serven, (Kyle) Freeland, (Austin) Gomber, Justin Lawrence, so we had a good group when we’re working out.

Lyons: You’re been getting into pickleball a little bit. You, Garrett Hampson. What’s going on with all the pickleball?

McMahon: Serven is the best out of all of us right now, but we’ve got some competitive games. I started playing with Josh Fuentes, actually. Him and his fiancee play me and my wife. Then we got Garrett out there and then we found out all the boys loved it. Karl Kaufman and Serven, both really good players.

Lyons: Does this mean the team might switch over from the three-point shooting contest?

McMahon: Who knows. Hopefully. We’ll see. We didn’t do it last year. So we gotta figure something out. We gotta do something.

Lyons: Maybe the return of ping pong in the weight room? 

McMahon: See. I feel like we could do pickleball instead of that. So who knows? We’ll see.

Lyons: You guys could definitely get a brand deal out of that. Last season, after August 1, did you begin to feel like Ryan McMahon again?

McMahon: Yeah, definitely later in the season. I still think I can be better. I think there’s a lot of guys who can be better. That’s gonna be our focus. That and just playing team winning baseball. We’ve already had some meetings today talking about how we’re going to stay together as a unit and we’re hoping that translates to wins.

Lyons: Where was your focus for the offseason? Was it more about replicating the successes of the second half?

McMahon: I think just being more consistent. I think the first half, honestly, I was kind of searching, trying to find it, trying to find different things. The second half, it’s not even that I found it right away. It was just I decided, ‘Okay, this is just what I do when I’m going good. Let me just focus and just do this every single day and I’m sure I’ll find out from that.’ It’s such a long season. Obviously you want to always be making minor adjustments trying to keep up with the game, but at the end of the day, your foundation is basically your foundation.

Jun 18, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies third baseman Ryan McMahon (24) hits a home run against the San Diego Padres in the eighth inning at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: John Leyba-USA TODAY Sports

Lyons: You’re a very grateful person. Great teammate, selfless. So it begs the question: did you simply put too much pressure on yourself at the start following the contract extension? Because it’s natural that you’d want to live up to it.

McMahon: I didn’t overwhelmingly feel any pressure. Obviously, you’re human. You have a contract, you want to play well. You’re gonna be here for a long time. But I never felt any of that pressure from anybody. I’m sure there’s a narrative and everybody wants to put it on that. I know (Bud Black) and (Bill Schmidt) have said that. I think that’s just more of them protecting me than anything else. At the end of the day, I just tried to go out there and play the best baseball I can.

Lyons: You’re the old guy on the team, right? What are your thoughts now as each year goes by and you get further away from being a rookie? And some of these new guys get further away from your age?

McMahon: I remember talking to Daniel Murphy about. He’s like, ‘Man, I felt like I was a rookie almost until the last day of my career.’ It just goes by quick. For me, I’ve been around, been through a couple of seasons and I think at the end of the day, it’s on me to share some of the things I’ve learned and continue to learn. Try to help guys who haven’t maybe gone through the whole thing yet. Help them get through it. But also, I still gotta be on the prowl still, learning the best things to help me and my teammates.

Lyons: Did you begin to feel that way last year, like it’s time to kind of pass it down to the next group a little bit?

McMahon: I think we’ve always been a pretty open clubhouse, but I think there’s definitely gonna be more baseball conversations. I think that’s how you get the best out of everything, collectively, working together, not just, ‘Hey, this guy’s doing his thing. We’re doing our thing.’ It’s staying together as a unit and making sure that we’re all moving in the same direction.