Colorado Rockies player reviews: In 2022, Randal Grichuk was defined by high socks and ground balls

Welcome to the 2022 edition of Ranking the Rockies, where we take a look back at every player to record playing time for the Rockies in 2022. The purpose of this list is to provide insight into the player in context. “Ranking” is an organizing principle taken from Baseball Reference’s WAR (rWAR). It’s not something the staff discussed. We will start with the player with the lowest rWAR and end with the player with the highest.

★ ★ ★

#21, Randal Grichuk: 0.3 rWAR

When the Colorado Rockies traded Raimel Tapia to the Toronto Blue Jays for Randal Grichuk, I first went to Baseball Reference. (More on that in a minute.) Then I checked Grichuk’s Instagram to get a sense of who he is as a person. The flow was a predictable mix of congratulations and goodbyes from one day to the next.

But one stood out: the Instagram story posted by Grichuk’s barber.

Even though the story is gone, the image remains vivid in my mind. Grichuk sits in the barber’s chair, smiling and sporting a fresh haircut. The barber (whose name I don’t remember) stands behind Grichuk holding a pair of clippers, his head perfectly encircled by the glow of a ring of light, an angelic barber sent to earth to make sure baseball players have impeccable grooming.

And, hey, as Erasmus said centuries ago, “the clothes make the man”. That is, if a player who looks good plays better, what does he dislike?

When Raimel Tapia headed north, he took that trademark swagger with him – and a tendency to hit ground balls… so many ground balls. By getting Grichuk, the Rockies hoped to have replaced Tapia’s slap shot with a powerful hitter. That’s not exactly how things happened.

How was Grichuk in terms of offense?

The Rockies knew what they hoped for in the trade of Grichuk. Here’s what they got, as Baseball Reference shows:

Randal Grichuk Career Stats
Baseball Reference

What stands out? In 2022, Grichuk’s runs and hits were up, but the power the Rockies needed wasn’t always there. Grichuk has hit 19 home runs in 2022, but that total is lower than in previous years except his second season.

Instead, Grichuk found himself, like Raimel Tapia, kicking the ball into the ground a lot.

This graph shows that Grichuk's GB% has increased significantly in 2022.

GB% by Randal Grichuk
Baseball Reference

His 50.4% GB% is the highest of his career — 11 points higher than in 2021. He had the eighth-highest GB% in baseball (behind, among others, Brendan Rodgers at sixth). Coors Field rewards players for hitting the ball in the air; those who knocked him to the ground, not so much. And ground balls can result in double plays. That was a problem for the 2022 Rockies, which had 139 GDP — only the Washington Nationals had more. Grichuk hit 12 of them.

When you’re trading for offensive power, that’s really not what you want.

The numbers suggest that Grichuk experienced the Coors Effect in a big way, although that’s not how he sees it.

“In the game, I don’t really feel different,” Grichuk said, “but I like the stadium and I like the atmosphere.”

His off-season training plans are pretty standard.

“Obviously all the generic stuff, right?” Grichuk said. “Get stronger. Stay healthy. I want to work on my swing a bit to get the ball in the air a bit more.

But he also acknowledges that his ground ball rate is up.

“Yeah, it’s definitely higher than before,” he said, though he’s not sure why. “I don’t know. It’s one of the things that you just sort of see, and ask people, and see if it’s something mechanical, or just work on lifting the ball a bit more during the game. off-season.

OK, so what about the defense then?

The Rockies liked Grichuk’s defense a lot. Look at this:

This chart shows innings recorded by Rockies outfielders — Grichuk has the most.

Colorado Rockies outfield innings played in 2022
FanGraphs

Randal Grichuk recorded a lot of innings in the outfield – 1143 13 to be exact. No outfielder has even come close to Grichuk in terms of innings played. The DRS indicates that he is a good defender although he is clearly better on the right than in the middle. (He’s also a better right fielder than Charlie Blackmon.)

Takeaway: Based on innings played, the Rockies really like Randal Grichuk.

And let’s not forget that June game against the Marlins that saw the Rockies lose 14-0 and Grichuk take the mound, his first time since high school.

Grichuk threw 10 pitches, six for strikes, and finished the night with an ERA of 0.00 and a GB% of 66.7%.

OK, so what’s the deal with knee high socks?

It’s not Tapia’s kind of arrogance, but Grichuk brought his own look with him. Let’s start with the glasses, which have a history.

San Francisco Giants vs. Colorado Rockies

“I had LASIK 11 years ago now,” Grichuk explained. “And I felt like this offseason a few times. I drove at night, and it was just a little blurry. But I haven’t given it much thought. And in spring training, we had an evening game against the Brewers, and I could obviously see at home plate that I couldn’t see as well.

Grichuk visited an optometrist, who gave him a prescription for contacts. But there was a problem: “Actually, they ended up getting the prescription wrong. Got a new prescription here, and they just didn’t go well.

That would be a challenge for any professional athlete, but especially for a baseball player.

“I have astigmatism,” he continued, “so I didn’t know if the contact didn’t fit well on my eye after the operation or what. Obviously during the season you don’t want it to be the focal point of your day, and you think about it in-game. So I bought these glasses and they work well. [I] I had a little trouble at first to grasp the depth of perception.

As a bifocal wearer myself, I wanted to know more.

Grichuk explained, “Everything just seemed very close. So digging into the box kind of made me nauseous at first because it was like, ‘Whoa. It looks closer than it actually is. Obviously, watching the pitcher and the ball coming at you, you felt closer than it was. It took a few weeks, and I mastered that.

But now the adaptation is over: “Yeah, I feel good with them,” Grichuk said.

So what about the look that takes knee-high socks to the extreme?

Colorado Rockies vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

This image isn’t from the Rockies-Padres game, but notice how Grichuk’s style choices set him apart.
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

There is no fashion ethic at work, no stylist behind the scenes. Turns out Randal Grichuk is just a spontaneous guy.

“Everything I feel that day,” Grichuk said when explaining his uniform choices. “Sometimes I get tired of the same look and get bored, so I switch it up.”

The day I spoke with Grichuk, he said it was probably a “pants up” day, but then allowed himself some flexibility.

“Probably. I don’t know. We’ll see once I start getting dressed.

(It was, in fact, a day without pants.)

Final Thoughts

Grichuk seems to have found a new barber to replace the one he left in Toronto. But now he must also find the power in the plate he seems to have left there. If he does, he can be a solid contributor to the Rockies offense.

Luz W. German