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Diamondbacks should consider a Yasmany Tomás and Jeremy Hazelbaker platoon in LF

With two players with big career splits, a platoon in LF might be able to maximize the combined value of the two players.

After spending the offseason wishing that the Diamondbacks trade Yasmany Tomás, which should happen in the right deal, I didn’t offer up any solution on how to get better value out of him. If a deal never materializes in the Winter Meetings or any further part of the offseason, the team needs to have a plan on how to best utilize him. The team may have already made a move towards that when they claimed OF Jeremy Hazelbaker off waivers last month. Both Tomás (R) and Hazelbaker (L) have very big platoon splits where they are significantly better against the opposite hand and do a ton of damage. At the minimum you have to consider complementing those two skills together.

Tomás’ 2016 season looks decent at the plate on the surface with a .273/.313/.508 line that included 62 XBH and a wRC+ of 109. However breaking it down, a lot of his damage came against LHP, where he put up a .364/.423/.690 slashline (186 wRC+). In his career, he’s posted a 152 wRC+ against LHP. On the flip side, he’s struggled against RHP in 2016 (83) and his career to date (81). Tomás has 728 PA against RHP, which is a fairly decent size although not enough to remove some doubt. The team paid him $68.5M, so obviously they expected him to contribute more than that. So now the dilemma becomes how does the team improve against RHP. Should they keep sending him out there and hope for an improvement or have Hazelbaker take those ABs?

My solution has Hazelbaker taking those ABs. Hazelbaker hit .245/.318/.503 against RHP in 2016, which was good for a 113 wRC+ for the Cardinals in 182 PA. Hazelbaker showed good power with a .258 ISO against RHP and while the strikeout rate is an astronomical 24.7%, the walk rate is a solid 9.9%. Assuming his BABIP jumps up going to a park that’s ideal for his skill set at Chase Field (he went 4 for 8 with a HR and triple in April), he could put up a .260/.320/.520 slash (right around 115 wRC+). Neither player is a good defender, but Hazelbaker has more range than Tomás and having more innings go to the former than the latter improves the LF defense a little bit.

If the platoon goes out as planned, the team should get good offensive production from LF. Personally I would prefer a better platoon partner than Hazelbaker, but you have to work with what you have. The team needs to look at all possibilities to try to improve the team at every position and this is one idea. The Diamondbacks ranked 28th in fWAR in LF with a total of -0.5. I’m assuming a Tomás-Hazelbaker platoon could easily break 1.0, if not 2.0, with just their combined offensive total for a 1.5-win improvement.