McMahon Becoming the 4th In Bridge Game With Arenado, Story and Blackmon?
SCOTTSDALE, Az. – Ryan McMahon got his first glimpse at life in the big leagues back in September of 2017. He felt like he belonged.
He knows he belongs.
Hands down. No ifs, ands or buts about it.
“We’ve talked about the steps that guys who become big leaguers have to take and Mac has checked off all the boxes the last couple of years,” said Rockies manager Bud Black. “He is right where he needs to be confidence-wise, mentally, and physically. I am excited for Mac, not only this year, but in years to come as we watch his career unfold. It’s going to be fun to watch.”
A second-round pick of the Rockies out of Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Ca., McMahon made a steady progression through the minor leagues, stumbling only once – in 2016 when he hit .242 at Double-A Hartford, only to return and hit .326 in the first 49 games of the next season, and earning a promotion to Triple-A Albuquerque, where he hit .374.
It’s been a similar transition for him at the big-league level. In that 2017 September peek, he hit .158. A mid-season call up in 2018, he hit .232. And in his first full season last year, he hit .250 overall with 24 home runs. The number, however, that stands out is the left-handed-hitting McMahon not only hit .257 against left-handed pitchers, but he had 10 of his 24 home runs in just 152 of his 480 at-bats off left-handed pitchers.
“I don’t know what the numbers say about it, but I have always felt pretty comfortable against lefties,” said.
Rest assured the opposing teams know what the numbers say.
“I think he’s comfortable playing the game, regardless,” said manager Bud Black.
He was that multi-sport athlete in high school, initially a quarterback on the Mater Dei High team, eventually being replaced in the starting role midway in his senior year by Chase Forrest, who spent four years on scholarship at Cal, while McMahon was working his way through the farm system.
Forrest’s football career came to an end after his four years in college.
McMahon’s baseball career is just getting started.
As Black put it, “He is loose but yet focused at the same time, which is a great combination.”
His athleticism is underscored by the fact he came up through the minor leagues as a third baseman, found himself getting time at first base in the big leagues in his brief exposure in 2017 and 2018, and last year made the transition to second base, filling a void created by the free agent departure of D.J. LeMahieu.
It didn’t take McMahon long to feel at home at second.
“I really like second base,” he said. “I feel I put a lot of work in there and am comfortable with it. I still like third, and I’ll play first.”
As important as his bat and his glove has been McMahon’s understanding of the grind of a baseball season. Yes, in his first 27 at-bats this spring he has three home runs. No, he’s not celebrating.
“This is just spring training,” he said. “We have six months (of a regular season) ahead of us. It’s about being consistent. I have had some power surges before. It’s about being that power player like Nolan (Arenado)and Chuck (Blackmon) and (Trevor) Story, being that player day in and day out for six months.“
Black smiled when the Arenado-Blackmon-Story triumvirate was mentioned.
“He has learned from some very good teammates how to work, and what that means, to work at that big-league caliber,” said Black.
The key to that work isn’t getting hyped up about success.
And more importantly it isn’t getting down at the challenges.
“It’s been easier for me to flush at-bats and get back at it,” McMahon said of his growth in dealing with failure. “I feel more confident about my spot on the team. Last year and years before it was, `I want to make an impact. I want to show these guys I can play.’ These guys know what I can do. It’s about me getting more consistent with it. I don’t feel as much pressure.
“It is knowing that when you go through a bad stretch you have some previous successes to fall back on. There’s a lot of anxiety in this game. Trust me. The game is a crazy roller coaster.”
McMahon, however, enjoying the ride.