We now know for certain what Tapia is at the MLB level.
Welcome to the 2021 edition of Ranking the Rockies, where we take a look back at every player to log playing time for the Rockies in 2021. The purpose of this list is to provide a snapshot of the player in context. The “Ranking” is an organizing principle that’s drawn from Baseball Reference’s WAR (rWAR). It’s not something the staff debated. We’ll begin with the player with the lowest rWAR and end up with the player with the highest.
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No. 12, Raimel Tapia: 1.0 rWAR
Coming off a very good shortened 2020 campaign in which he posted a career-best .321/.369/.402 slash line, a lot of people (myself included) had solid expectations for Raimel Tapia heading into 2021. El Cangrejo had improved his plate discipline and made more contact, all while keeping his line drive oriented approach. There was a lot of talk that maybe he’d finally figured it out and he was going to the be top of the order table-setter many scouts saw him as for years. Did he accomplish that?
No, no he did not. Tapia came back to Earth in 2021, posting a .273/.327/.372 line that gave him an OPS+ of 80, right in line with his career average. His defense and baserunning (he stole 20 bases and was only caught six times) kept him above replacement level, but it was a disappointing outcome at the plate for the left-handed outfielder. There were some hot and cold streaks, of course, in particular a .345/.378/.478 month of June and a miserable, sub-600 OPS in August and September, but taken all together, the result was clear.
There’s Little Left To Discover, Right?
Tapia is now closing in on 1500 career plate appearances, and his career slash is .280/.325/.395, which amounts to a lowly 80 OPS+. His once excellent line drive rates dropped drastically in 2021, as Tapia hit grounder after grounder. How bad was it? Tapia had a groundball rate of 67.4% in 2021, the highest single season groundball rate of any qualified batter since 2012, which… yeah, that won’t cut it in 2021 MLB.
It’s unclear what’s next for Tapia now. He seems pretty much set in stone in the “light-hitting, speedy fourth outfielder” role at this point, and while that’s a nice player to have on the bench, it won’t be much more than that. His spot in left field could very well be under threat from Connor Joe and especially Ryan Vilade sooner rather than later, too, so we’ll see how the Rockies handle it.
Does he get tendered? Does he not? The Rockies will answer that question in a few weeks, but what do we think?
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