by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
While the Rockies have D.J. LeMahieu currently manning 2B, it’s easy to argue that he’s not the long-term solution. The 29-year old is a free agent at the end of the year and Colorado already has his heir apparent in place. The question isn’t when Garrett Hampson is going to step in to take the job, it’s if he’ll force LeMahieu out before 2018 is over.
It’s interesting that Colorado has been utilizing Charlie Blackmon lower in the order, because Hampson fits as an ideal leadoff hitter. Just look at these numbers over 71 PA at Double-A:
- Batting Average – .328
- Stolen Bases – 11 (and he has not yet been caught)
- Strikeouts – 5.6% (courtesy of a 3.0% SwStr%)
- Walks – 12.7%
Those are not typos when it comes to his strikeouts and walks, as he has 4 K vs. 9 BB. Small sample size or not, that’s highly impressive. It’s not like he was a strikeout machine a year ago at High-A (12.8%) as he consistently made contact (5.9% SwStr%).
Those numbers alone make him an ideal fit for the top of the batting order, but he also has plenty of speed. A year removed from swiping 51 bases, MLB.com described him prior to the season by saying:
“Hampson’s well above-average speed is his standout tool and he employs it well. After hitting too many routine fly-balls in college, he has adjusted his approach to put more balls on the ground and use his feet to get on base, where he had 87 steals in 105 attempts during his first two seasons. He has a quick right-handed swing and barrels the ball consistently, and while he doesn’t offer much power, he does show good patience at the plate.”
Last season Hampson posted a 46.9% groundball rate, using his speed and contact ability to hit .326. It’s easy to point towards a .364 BABIP as a reason to think that he won’t be able to maintain it, but with his speed it’s not an unreasonable mark. This year he’s taken it another step forward, with a 51.9% groundball rate, and that’s exactly what we want to see.
While he’s not going to provide significant power, he did have 44 extra base hits a year ago and will play half his games in Coors Field. That should make 5-7 HR possible, with maybe a few more, and with the other skills that’s all he needs.
Throw in the ability to score a significant amount of runs while being an OBP machine, what exactly is there not to like? At this point Hampson is profiling as a .300+ hitter with 35+ SB and 90+ R from a middle infielder. There are few players who can make that claim, and whether he debuts in 2018 or 2019, he needs to be on all radars as he could ultimately prove to be a difference maker.
Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com
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