McMahon's offseason gifts keep on giving

April 8th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Thomas Harding's Rockies Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

DENVER -- Going into the offseason, Rockies third baseman received blunt words from general manager Bill Schmidt. And hitting coach Hensley Meulens gave McMahon a blunt object.

Both parting gifts have helped McMahon to a start that has been a bright spot for a team that enters Monday night’s home game against the Diamondbacks at 2-8. He’s batting .389 (14-for-36), with two homers, two doubles and seven RBIs through 10 games.

First the words -- an assessment based on McMahon’s inconsistent hitting -- that Schmidt said at a gathering of reporters at the Winter Meetings in December: “He’s an above-average defender, which makes him the average player. But he can be better. There are a lot of people that believe that. And he’s aware of that.”

Schmidt delivering such an evaluation -- done face-to-face, long before the Winter Meetings inquest -- was based on a relationship that began before the Rockies selected McMahon in the second round of the 2013 MLB Draft out of Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif.

“Bill’s son and I went to the same UCLA camp in eighth grade or freshman year, and I played for a guy that Bill knew, Craig Grebeck, so that’s when I got introduced to him,” McMahon said. “California ties -- we know a lot of the same people.

“I love Bill. He’s so blunt that sometimes you can take it the wrong way. A lot guys in here sometimes get caught taking it the wrong way. He doesn’t say those things unless he cares. You can ask him. He and I have sat down multiple times.”

Nothing Schmidt said during the offseason “caught me by surprise,” McMahon said.

Unsurprisingly, Schmidt is confident in who McMahon is, but he has a wait-and-see approach to the early numbers.

“If you know 'Mac,' he's a high-character individual and a good self-evaluator,” Schmidt said. "You can see the work that he did in the offseason. It's paying off for him. But we have more than 150 games to go."

McMahon has emphasized keeping his swing short and connected. McMahon typically swings a 31 1/2-ounce, 33.75-inch bat. Meulens sent him into the offseason with what in comparison is a war club at 38 ounces and 34 inches. The principle is if the stride, the hands and the hips aren’t moving in proper sequence “the bat will swing you,” Meulens said.

McMahon's heavy swinging during the winter is paying off in better decisions before committing to the swing. After striking out 198 times in 152 games last year, his strikeout rate is down -- nine in 10 games this year -- and he has five walks.

“I’ve just really worked on my two-strike approach and am trying to translate that into an every-pitch approach,” McMahon said.