How fast athletes can fall. Sometimes it is amazing.
In 2006 Garrett Atkins batted .329/.409/.556 with an OPS+ of 136. His 29 home runs and 208 runs produced were huge for the Rockies. At the age of 26 the organization figured they had their man to man the hot corner for years to come. In 2007 he regressed a little bit with an OPS+ of 113 and his OBP fell under .400 and his slugging fell under .500. No matter, he was a great fifth or sixth hole hitter and helped the Rockies to the World Series.
Then came 2008 and the decline. Atkins’ OPS+ dropped below 100 to 96 and has continued to drop the past two seasons. In 2009, his last with Colorado, his OPS+ was 64 and then with Baltimore he only had 140 at-bats and his OPS+ was 54 in 2010. Awful.
Atkins will get another chance to play in the big leagues in 2011 and this time with the Pittsburgh Pirates and former Rockies manager Clint Hurdle. The Pirates signed Atkins to a minor league deal. Atkins is now 31 and will look to get his swing back in order.
On the other side of the field for the Rockies in 2007 was Brad Hawpe, in right field. In ’07 Hawpe was the protection for Matt Holliday and he clubbed 29 home runs and carried a 130 OPS+. Hawpe continued to produce for the Rockies until last season. Starting on May 16th Hawpe saw action in 68 games and had 197 at-bats. In those 197 ABs Hawpe hit .218/.308/.350.
A rather sudden decline.
With the emergence of Carlos Gonzalez the holes in Hawpe’s offensive game became more and more unbearable and all of a sudden the liability he has been in right field became more and more obvious. When a batter hits 30 home runs and slugs around .500 or higher a lead glove can be ignored. When that player stops hitting his defense becomes another problem, as if it didn’t exist in years prior.
Hawpe spent the rest of last season with the Tampa Bay Rays and did not fare much better there. Now there are more and more reports of him signing with the San Diego Padres. Petco park, home of the Padres, will certainly not do his swing and newly found lack of power any favors.
Hawpe will be 32 in 2011 and he and Atkins are both still beloved by Rockies fans for the success they had here in Denver in 2007 and we can only hope both find their power stroke. Of course we hope Hawpe doesn’t find his here in Denver while wearing those awful sandy colored uniforms.