Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

McMahon aims to build on last year's success

@harding_at_mlb
February 19, 2020

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Second baseman Ryan McMahon took the Rockies’ quiet offseason as a compliment and a challenge. Last year, his first full Major League season, McMahon overcame an early-season injury and prevailed in various challenges for his starting position to finish .250/.329/.450. Two figures, especially, could be building blocks

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Second baseman Ryan McMahon took the Rockies’ quiet offseason as a compliment and a challenge.

Last year, his first full Major League season, McMahon overcame an early-season injury and prevailed in various challenges for his starting position to finish .250/.329/.450. Two figures, especially, could be building blocks -- 24 home runs and 56 walks. Unspoken is that the Rockies are counting on McMahon, 25, to help the team make sure last year’s 71-91 finish doesn’t happen again.

“Nothing verbally,” McMahon said. “But you just know from the interaction. I mean, if they didn't believe in us, they would have gone and got other people. I'm a big proponent for actions speak louder than words. So the actions are speaking to us.”

The message McMahon took from those actions?

Do your homework, physically and mentally.

Physically: McMahon dropped from 208 pounds at the start of last season to 192, and it showed during an 0-for-13 September slide. So he began his workouts three weeks early this winter.

“Honestly, I learned how long 162 games is,” he said.

Mentally: An old mentor, Mariners director of player development Andy McKay, who was in charge of the Rockies’ mental skills program when McMahon was in the Minors, gave McMahon a book, “Chop Wood, Carry Water: How to Fall in Love with the Process of Becoming Great,” by Joshua Medcalf.

Seeking more education, and disproving any stereotype that millennials don’t know anything about bookstores, McMahon said he went to Barnes & Noble and bought “Dare to Lead,” by Brené Brown. This stemmed from McMahon wanting to fight the human tendency to fade into the background when he’s not performing well.

“The main thing for leaders is earning the respect of your teammates,” he said. “The way you do that is by being a pro, showing up every day being the same guy. I could have done a better job of it. I think I let my emotions get the best to me a couple times, kind of would go into like a little cocoon. I mean, I make it sound worse than it is.

“Honestly, the best teams and the best teammates put that behind them.”

McMahon could be Exhibit A in the Rockies’ belief in their players over others’ projections.

Just on batting average, according to Fangraphs, here are projections: The Bat, .257; ATC, .260; Depth Charts, .264; Steamer, .268; ZiPS, .260. And no one predicts more than 22 homers, a drop from last year. The Rockies, however, are high on McMahon’s expected growth based on development already.

“He had a really nice learning season last year, really nice second half in terms of making adjustments, pushing through fatigue and finishing strong,” Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich said. “I know that it took a lot out of him, but he learned a lot too. It was a really important growth year for him.”

Manager Bud Black expects McMahon, who played in 141 games last season, to push into the mid-150s the way Charlie Blackmon, Trevor Story and Nolan Arenado have in recent seasons.

“He’s walking around with a sense of knowing that he belongs, that he’s a big leaguer and going to be a productive big leaguer, and I love that confidence,” said Black, who noted he can take advantage of McMahon’s ability to play first base or third base if necessary. “He’s learning from the right guys.

“Nobody has set a better example than Charlie, Nolan [and] Trevor for our guys to follow. It’s really good stuff, and ‘Mac’ is going to be one of those guys that our younger players are going to look up to. That’s starting to happen already.”

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page.