When Rockies players reported to Spring Training at Salt River Fields, three men entered the race to become the starting second baseman.
Though each man made a strong case, only one stood out: Ryan McMahon.
The 24-year-old was the winner of the Abby Greer Award as the best player in Spring Training after batting .424 (25-for-59) with 3 home runs and 14 runs batted in while leading all of MLB in slugging percentage (.792) and total bases (45).
“To me, it just kind of gets me excited that I’m doing what I need to do,” McMahon said of the torrid start to his 2019. “But Spring Training doesn’t mean anything. Those stats don’t carry over. They don’t help win games in April, May, June. I’m excited personally going forward, but there’s a lot of work that needs to be done.”
The success at the plate on game day helped McMahon turn some of his focus on perfecting his defensive talents in the field.
“You have to prepare yourself anyway, even if you’re not hitting well or not hitting well, you still need to focus defensively and vice versa. It definitely allowed me to not think about hitting that much and focus on defense a bit more, but as far as time spent and preparation, it should be the same whether you’re doing well or doing terrible.”
Offensively, the superstitious worry was that McMahon had accumulated so many hits in Arizona that he’d have none left in his bat come Opening Day.
As it were, McMahon has had a hit in each of the first four games with two doubles, two walks and a run batted in to go along with his .357 batting average.
So what did McMahon happen to say is the biggest change?
“I don’t think much has changed. I’m just doing it better. I think I understand who I am as a player and I think I’m realizing there are some things I shouldn’t try to do. Just stay within my game and do my game to the best of my abilities.”
With Daniel Murphy’s injury that will sideline the first baseman for 4-6 weeks, coupled with McMahon’s hot start and newly minted spot in the lineup batting fifth, McMahon will get more starts at first as well as some additional opportunities against left-handed starting pitchers.