As Luke Hochevar‘s spot in the lineup crept up on the KC Royals in the top of the 12th inning of Game Five of the 2015 World Series, the Kansas City Royals had already registered 557 at-bats in the postseason. Of the 25-man roster, all but ten KC Royals had logged at-bats, only two of those ten being position players.
One of those players was Christian Colon.
Colon, selected by the Kansas City Royals with the fourth overall pick in the 2010 draft, has played the majority of his short career under shadow of doubt, a shadow cast on him despite no wrong-doing of his own.
The 26-year-old was drafted in the 10th round of the 2007 MLB Draft, but elected to attend California State University, Fullerton, where he became an All-American shortstop before being drafted by the KC Royals.
In parts of six minor league seasons, Colon is a .281 hitter, with a respectable .345 OBP, while stealing 71 bases.
Spending most of the last two seasons as the Kansas City Royals first infielder off the bench, Colon has produced a .303/.361/.382 slash in 61 career games, and with Omar Infante becoming a black-hole offensively at second base, has even garnered his own hashtag on twitter:
However, as Colon sat in the Citi Field’s visitors dugout for 11 innings on Sunday, the looming shadow had never been bigger.
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Three picks after the Royals slot, the Mets would select starting pitcher Matt Harvey, who Colon watched shut the KC Royals down over eight innings, before ultimately pitting Terry Collins emotions against him in route to a two-run rally in the top of the 9th to tie the game.
The pick after Harvey? Delino Deshields Jr.
Three All-Stars and five future All-Stars, all taken after a man who in some worlds, might never see another role outside of a utility infielder.
That is the shadow.
Colon has said, and will continue to say, that this shadow has not and will not affect him.
“All I can do is worry about me,” he says.
But he is a human being. Many of us have seen the barrage of tweets about what the Royals would be like if they had Sale instead of Colon, or Harvey instead of Colon.
I don’t know the man, I have never spoken to the man, but within the realms of blogging ethics, I can say that there is a very good chance that those thoughts have entered his head on a semi-regular basis over the last three to four years.
With all of that on his back, Colon stepped into the box for the first time all postseason, with a chance to give Wade Davis a lead and a chance to win the World Series.
He had a chance to put the finishing touches on an epic take down of, arguably, his most looming shadow in Harvey.
All of this despite the fact that he hadn’t seen a live pitch in 28-days.
And with one swing of the bat, his shadow seemingly disappeared — at least in Kansas City.
His 1-2 punch at a diving slider dropped in front of Michael Conforto in left-center field, and sent Kansas City into a frenzy.
Four more runs and three Wade Davis strikeouts later, Colon and the KC Royals were world champions.
There is a very good chance that Christian Colon never becomes a full-time Major League Player, and there is an immensely smaller chance that Colon become anything near the player Sale and Harvey currently are.
However, with two of the biggest hits in Kansas City baseball history in his only two postseason at-bats, it’s hard to imagine Kansas City, or Colon, care that much.
Christian Colon will never be able to walk around Kansas City again without being recognized. He will never pay for another beer in Kansas City. He will never again be just a backup infielder, and he also might never be anything more than a backup infielder.
He will, however, always be the man who brought Kansas City its first World Series title in 30 years.