Anyone expect Ender Inciarte to happen?
Preston: Yes, I think I can seriously claim that I did expect great things from Inciarte. Having seen a decent bit of him in the minor leagues, I had a bit of an advantage. I knew he could maintain his production at the plate, and thought his defense was even better than Parra's. I didn't foresee him being the third-best right fielder in all of the major leagues (which he was, by bWAR, trailing only Heyward and Bryce Harper.)
freeland1787: Inciarte came more as a surprise in 2015. The Diamondbacks spent a ton of talent to acquire Mark Trumbo and a lot of money for Yasmany Tomás. We knew that Trumbo wasn't going to last very long given how his negatives outweighed his positives. When Trumbo was shipped to Seattle, that allowed Tomás to play his natural RF position. When Tomás really struggled in the 2nd half, Inciarte took over the job. I initially thought if Inciarte as a glove first player who could start a couple times a week. In 2015, he proved to be a capable bat with a 100 wRC+. Even though his numbers didn't fit the typical leadoff hitter results, he had the right qualities for that lineup spot.
Piratedan7: We all had seen glimmers of what was there, to see it come to fruition was pretty cool. I also understand that not everyone seizes the opportunity, as such I give credit to Ender and to the coaching staff, I believe it takes both working together to help make a complete ballplayer.
Steven: After he was returned from the Phillies, I never expected him to grow as an offensive force like he has. His 2013 in Mobile (.281/.327/.362, 101 OPS+) was what I expected out of him as an MLB-er, so to see him provide that level of hitting ability with elite defense was a dream come true. I still question whether he can improve, but I wish him all the best.
Jim: I think that probably surprised me a lot more than A.J. Pollock. Inciarte had a .716 OPS over his time in the minors, and so the .677 figure he posted in his rookie season of 2014 was about what I expected. I was certainly not looking for him to hit .300 over an entire season, even given his young age.
What impressed you most about his play this season?
Preston: I wasn't actually that impressed. I believe that Inciarte is capable of more, particularly as he showed better capacity to draw walks and work counts in the minor leagues, and it seemed like he was being coached to swing early in at bats since he came up. I think he could be a .350 OBP guy. However, he did make the team as a whole better, particularly A.J. Pollock, who struggled offensively when Inciarte was injured.
freeland1787: Inciarte's bat definitely surpassed expectations. I still think he's capable of walking more and his OBP is still too low for a .300 BA. Defensively, he should have won a Gold Glove, but didn't get it because he didn't play the same position all year long. At 25, there was still a lot of potential growth.
Piratedan7: For me it was the defense, but simply being fast doesn't cut it, the fact that he was able to demonstrate his defensive chops in all three positions was pretty impressive in my opinion. His ability to read the ball off the bat and track down balls that looked destined to be extra bases so often was often overlooked. The fact that all three guys played off of each other to make it tougher on the opposing team made him a key component in the best defensive outfield in the majors last year. Repetition is just as important for Defense as AB's are for your offensive improvement. Playing every day obviously helped.
Steven: He was just about the perfect player attitude-wise you could have. He never complained, despite deserving more playing time and was extremely dependable to produce when he got the call to play. He played 132 games, reaching base by hit or walk in 104 of them. You take that from a supporting player every day.
Jim: The defense really went to the next level. I think if he had played at a single position, he would almost certainly have won a Gold Glove - though that flexibility was part of what made him so valuable. I also really appreciated the way he improved his plate discipline over the course of the season, particularly after starting to play in the lead-off spot on a regular basis.
Why do you think the team decided he was the outfield piece to be moved?
Preston: Someone had to lose their job to make space for Tomas, because while the FO did a good job admitting the previous FO's mistakes, they can't seem to admit their own. Out of the three that should have been starting on opening day, Inciarte was the least valuable. Still, I would have preferred a straight-up Pollock for Miller trade rather than the massive package that was given up.
freeland1787: The Diamondbacks were clearly impressed with Socrates Brito, who did well in his brief debut. I believe Brito will wind up a better player 2-3 years down the road if he can tap into his tools more consistently.
Makakilo: For outfielders, the relative value of offense, or offensive upside, was perceived as greater than defense. Inciarte could be replaced more easily than Pollock, Peralta, or Tomas.
Piratedan7: Perhaps he was seen by the FO as a case of selling high... Ender did benefit by having guys like Pollack and Goldschmidt batting behind him. Perhaps that gave him better pitches to hit. Will he show the same approach if he's more of a focal point for pitchers? Although imho, Peralta would have been the guy to move, not Ender, but since Pollock wasn't touchable, maybe the Braves liked him more than Peralta. While his power doesn't match David's, his defense and baserunning I believe are superior. I think the FO was willing to move either David or Ender (or even Yasmany) but it was a matter of what the buyer wanted that was in stock.
Steven: At some point, you have to see what you have in Tomas and it unfortunately came at the cost of a talented, young outfielder in either Inciarte or Peralta as they are the biggest threats to his playing time.
Jim: I think it's a bit of, D) All of the above. Pollock was obviously untouchable, and the team had too much invested in Tomas. who would also be an obvious case of selling low. The team appears to feel Brito can be a decent Inciarte replacement, with Peralta's power being harder to reproduce. Seems a bit odd with that supposedly being Tomas's strongest suit, but It is hard to see Inciarte getting any better or more valuable than he was this winter.
What did you think of Yasmany Tomas after he moved there from third?
Preston: He was dismal defensively. Among players with at least 300 innings at the position, only Matt Kemp posted a lower UZR/150. His offense was also on a substantial downturn. He slashed .259/.287/.405, which failed to meet expectations. If he were to be basically the same player, he'd likely be the worse right fielder in the major leagues.
freeland1787: I'm hoping being better conditioned will help him in the OF. I appreciate he's making the effort to do so. I'm also hoping he cuts down on the wild hacks, because he tries too hard in clutch situations. He just needs to stop forcing things and let the natural talent take over.
Makakilo: Yasmany Tomas was a rookie. For a rookie, his hitting was about average in the majors. Looking at rookies with at least 400 plate appearances, his BA was ranked 8th of 21, and his SLG and RBIs were ranked 12th of 21. His HRs ranked 15th/16th of 21 - and in that one area I reasonably expected much more. And my philosophy is that hitting is most important for corner outfielders. So how could I find fault in his negative values in fielding and baserunning? I now realize that my expectations were unreasonable. Now, I am slightly optimistic.
Piratedan7: to be fair, the first half of the season wasn't that bad... but I think his conditioning plagued him both at the plate and in the field. Will that/has that served as a wake up call for 2016, we shall see. After all, didn't Joc Pederson plummet to earth in the 2nd half of the season as well and he's had the benefit of playing in the minor league system. We will see if he has the tools to either hit the breaking ball or lay off of it. If he's in better shape, perhaps he'll be better equipped emotionally to last the season as well. I see a bit of Puig in him, when he's going good, it looks like a beach ball up there. When it's going bad, he's down on himself and is lacking confidence.
Steven: I think Yasmany started out well, showing success hitting against MLBers whom he's facing for the first time in his life. He declined as the year went on, and we can all speculate why. But he's shown the talent needed to succeed, it's all on him and the coaching staff to prod him to improve.
Jim: I think we'd have been better off leaving him for the entire season in the minor-leagues rather than rushing him to the majors after a whopping FIVE games on the farm. If he wasn't ready for the big leagues at the end of spring training, what suddenly made him ready? Frankly, how many 24-year-olds would hit .273 for a season after less than a week in the minors? Still, there's no doubt he wore down over the course of the season, though given he didn't play in 2014 and only 65 games in 2013, that's not much of a surprise. I think he should be given a lot of slack - at least for last year...
In Part 2, we look at the prospect of Tomas in 2016, what the back-up plan might be, and the prospects bubbling under on the Diamondbacks farm system.