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Torey Lovullo: Jake Lamb will be the team's primary 3rd Baseman

In an interview during the Winter Meetings, the Diamondbacks manager named Jake Lamb as his primary 3B. Lamb's 2016 season suggests that is the smart move.

Jake Lamb's 2016 season numbers vs. left-handed starters should earn him more playing time
Jake Lamb's 2016 season numbers vs. left-handed starters should earn him more playing time
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

One of my biggest gripes the last two years with Chip Hale was his unreasonable need to platoon 3B with a developing star already there in Jake Lamb. Lamb would sit out against many left-handed starters, although I don't mind if he sits against Kershaw, Bumgarner, or any other All-Star left-handed starter in baseball. In 2016, Lamb received only 20 starts against LHP out of a possible 45 games. That removes Clayton Kershaw, Madison Bumgarner, and Jon Lester as opponents Lamb has to face, a max total of 7-8 games he would sit. If Lamb holds up physically over the course of a full season, he's set for about 140 starts out of 162 at the hot corner.

The biggest detractors to this aside from Drury fanboys who think Brandon Drury is better, although it's obvious Jake Lamb is the superior player, is his R vs. L splits. On the surface, the R vs. L splits suggest a platoon, right? The logic following that is Lamb "struggles" against lefties. Lamb hit .164/.279/.345 against all lefties in 2016, for a 86 sOPS+. However, digging further into the platoon splits shows that Lamb can actually handle left-handed starters fine. Against LH starters, Lamb put up a strong .285/.385/.584 slash, putting up 5 HR, 5 2B, and 3 3B in 104 PA, which was good for a 160 sOPS+. That's 60% more production than your average left-handed hitter against a left-handed starter in 2016. Against relievers, Lamb struggled but to be honest most lefties would be in a similar result. In fact, my biggest issue with Lamb is staying healthy (wrist in 2013, foot in 2015, thumb in 2016) and staying consistent from first to second half.

Assuming a drop to a BABIP around his career average of around .315, Lamb's slash line would look like .255/.335/.475 against starters and the overall line towards a .225/.310/.405 line, the latter being good enough to keep him in the lineup everyday. Now there will be the 20 games that the team will play someone else as Lamb is getting an off-day against Kershaw or Bumgarner, the team has options on the roster already. They could play Chris Owings, Phil Gosselin, or Brandon Drury at the hot corner, although Drury should focus on playing 2B as Lovullo also commented that Drury will be focusing on the infield in 2017. My projection has Lamb putting up a .262/.339/.524 slash in 140 games for 2017 with 33 doubles, a triple, 32 HR, 94 RBI, and a wRC+ of 124.