Is Ryan McMahon Finally Putting It All Together for the Rockies?

The Colorado Rockies have needed more offense from Ryan McMahon for years. Will his new swing adjustments help him reach his full potential?

Ryan McMahon of the Colorado Rockies in action against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on April 15, 2024 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. All players are wearing the number 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson Day.
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - APRIL 15: Ryan McMahon #24 of the Colorado Rockies in action against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on April 15, 2024 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. All players are wearing the number 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson Day. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Colorado Rockies third baseman Ryan McMahon Is Mr. Inconsistency.

His defensive chops are undisputed. He’s a three-time Gold Glove finalist with 53 career DRS and 34 OAA at the hot corner. To put that in context, last year, Ke’Bryan Hayes was the only third baseman with both more DRS (21 to McMahon’s 17) and more OAA (17 to McMahon’s 11). It is commonplace for Rockies fans to see defensive gems like this one:

When the Rockies traded perennial All-Star Nolan Arenado to the St. Louis Cardinals, McMahon proved himself an able defensive replacement, if lacking some of the flash of Arenado’s early defensive career.

Now, add to all that leather McMahon’s potential for power.

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Does the lefty have a powerfully gorgeous swing? Absolutely, as underscored by the 106 home runs he has hit during his Rockies career.

Since his first full season in 2019, McMahon has hit at least 20 homers every year (save 2020). That seems good on the surface, yet given his power potential, it’s difficult to see this as anything other than underperformance. He has a career slashline of .246/.326/.429, which is fine, but shouldn’t someone who plays half his games at Coors Field be going yard at a heightened clip?

Part of the problem has been McMahon’s high strikeout rate; he has a career K% of 28.7%. In 2023, that number was 31.6% — the fourth-highest total in MLB that year. (Brent Rooker’s 32.7% led all batters.)

McMahon also has a career walk rate of 10.3%. While he sees a lot of pitches — he has one of the highest PP/PA in MLB — his career has been marked by periods of hot hitting followed by slumps he struggled to get through.

For a Rockies team desperate for offense, McMahon’s lack of consistent power has proved to be a problem. They need him to be the hitter they thought they extended for six years, $70 million back in March 2022.

It was a point general manager Bill Schmidt was clear about during the offseason.

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“If you look, he’s an average player right now, and I’ve told him that,” Schmidt said at the Winter Meetings. “He’s an above-average defender, which makes him the average player. He can be better. There are a lot of people who believe that.”

When asked about Schmidt’s assessment, McMahon did not shy away while talking with Patrick Saunders. “Bill and I have a pretty open relationship about things like that,” McMahon said. “If you know Bill, he’s very blunt about things like that. But he doesn’t say that unless he wants (success) for you as well.”

And for McMahon, something has changed. Consider his 2024 numbers. Granted, they come in a small sample size, but his performance so far suggests something different.

Currently, McMahon is slashing .325/.406/.458 with a wRC+ of 128. That K%? It’s still a bit high at 28.1%. But his BB%? It’s a career-best 12.5%.

As it turns out, McMahon took Schmidt’s words to heart and made some swing adjustments during the offseason.

“I’m just working on, like, a two-strike approach, working on that in the spring. I realized that I can take that swing more often — it doesn’t have to be two strikes. So I’m just trying to incorporate that,” McMahon said.

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During the offseason, he worked with Rockies hitting coach Hensley Meulens, who stressed to McMahon the need to keep his swing short. He also experimented with using a heavier bat, which allowed him to keep his hips and hands in sequence and led to a tighter, more compact swing.

”The only thing is, don’t give away any at-bats. That’s my only goal,” McMahon said. “I think if I do that, everything else I want to happen… for me, for this team, if we do that, a lot of good things happen.” 

(Skyler Timmins of Purple Row has a detailed breakdown of McMahon’s swing adjustments here.)

McMahon can still hit the ball with power as evidenced here, only the third walk-off grand slam in Rockies history:

But perhaps more remarkable, if less interesting, are the walks McMahon takes and the doubles he’s hitting — 12 bases on balls and five doubles so far. The home runs will always be there.

If Ryan McMahon can make his new approach to hitting work throughout the season, he will be a valuable asset to an offensively challenged Colorado Rockies team.

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