Diamond-backs and Cubiczirconia-backs
The offense continues to chew up and spit out opposing pitchers. Arizona currently has the best spring BA (.317) and OBP (.373), while being second for SLG (.517) to the Tigers (.521). The .890 OPS is best in the majors too. They are averaging 7.2 runs per game, and have scored 144 in total, which is 22 more than anyone else. Their K:BB ratio has also started to come around. at 2.73. it's beginning to get a lot closer to the 2.47 figure posted during the regular season last year. Breaking it down on an individual level, here are the players who have led the way in spring overall.
- Welington Castillo - continues to hit the ball hard. Batting 12-for-25 would be impressive enough, but that includes just one single, with eight doubles and three HR for a 1.693 OPS.
- Jean Segura - the God-Emperor of Spring BABIP continues to ride his good fortune, to the tune of a .708 BABIP! I hope whoever he is praying to, continues to listen come Opening Day.
- Brandon Drury - Not giving up and handing the third-base starter to Lamb without a fight, putting up a line of .371/.421/.800 for a 1.221 OPS, and making a strong case for a roster-spot.
I'm also pleased to see the three players who were marked as "of concern" previously have all started picking up their game, to varying degrees. There are currently only a couple of players with a realistic shot at the Opening Day roster who have an OPS of less than .760: Tuffy Gosewisch and David Peralta. Peralta was one of those discussed last time, but his OPS has actually improved by close to 200 points, so I'm reluctant to criticize that. Which leaves Gosewisch the sole point of worry. We know he's never going to be an offensive force, but 2-for-18 with no walks and a .272 OPS is so bad, you have to wonder if he actually is 100% healthy.
Here are how we have lined up defensively over the ten games since we last looked at this.
|3/11 vs KCR||Herrmann||Goldschmidt||Owings||Ahmed||Lamb||O'Brien||Marzilli||Brito||Peralta|
|3/12 vs. SFG||Castillo||Goldschmidt||Owings||Ahmed||Drury||Weeks||Brito||Guerrero||O'Brien|
|3/12 vs. KCR||Gosewisch||Herrmann||Gosselin||Segura||Lamb||Bourgeois||Marzilli||Peralta||Borenstein|
|3/13 vs CHW||Herrmann||O'Brien||Gosselin||Segura||Drury||Weeks||Bourgeois||Borenstein||Castillo|
|3/14 vs. SEA||Gosewisch||Goldschmidt||Owings||Ahmed||Lamb||Marzilli||Brito||Peralta|
|3/16 vs. CIN||Castillo||Goldschmidt||Owings||Segura||Lamb||Brito||Bourgeois||Peralta|
|3/17 vs. CHC||Hayes||Goldschmidt||Segura||Ahmed||Drury||Weeks||Brito||Peralta|
|3/18 vs. LAD||Castillo||Goldschmidt||Owings||Ahmed||Lamb||Tomas||Marzilli||Borenstein|
|3/19 vs. TEX||Castillo||Goldschmidt||Gosselin||Segura||Drury||Guerrero||Bourgeois||Peralta|
|3/19 vs. SEA||Hayes||O'Brien||Owings||Ahmed||Lamb||Brito||Marzilli||Borenstein||Weeks|
Over those most recent ten games, here's what we find in terms of starts at each position.
- C - Castillo 4, three with 2 each
- 1B - Goldschmidt 7, O'Brien 2, Herrmann 1
- 2B - Owings 6, Gosselin 3, Segura 1
- SS - Ahmed 6, Segura 4
- 3B - Lamb 6, Drury 4
- LF - Weeks 3, Brito 2, five tied with 1
- CF - Marzilli 4, Brito 3, Bourgeois 3
- RF - Peralta 5, Borenstein 3, two tied with 1
The situations here are particularly muddied in the outfield, due to the almost entire absence over the period in this sample of Yasmany Tomas and A.J. Pollock. The former is back now, but the continuing absence of the latter is a bit concerning. Socrates Brito would appear to be the most-likely replacement, but Evan Marzilli has been making a strong push recently. Elsewhere, it still seems that Nick Ahmed will be the starting shortstop, but I'm surprised how little Jean Segura appears to have been playing second-base. He has started only three of the first 20 games at the position, and it really looks like a three-man committee (also including Chris Owings) for the middle-infield.
The back-up catcher role of late has been split three ways between Gosewisch, Chris Herrmann and non-roster invitee Brett Hayes, but I still tend to think it's Tuffy's to lose (though with his lack of hitting...). What isn't shown is who has been catching our starters in the Triple-A games they have been throwing, to keep them away from teams they'll be facing early in the season. All told, the question of the last couple of roster spots seems unresolved at this point. Potential candidates include Rickie Weeks, Peter O'Brien, Hermann or Drury, but I think that battle probably deserves a piece of its own, later this week
And similarly, here are the batting orders which have been sent out there by manager Chop Hale.
|3/11 vs KCR||Owings||Brito||Goldschmidt||Peralta||O'Brien||Lamb||Herrmann||Ahmed||Marzilli|
|3/12 vs. SFG||Owings||Brito||Goldschmidt||Castillo||Weeks||Drury||O'Brien||Guerrero||Ahmed|
|3/12 vs. KCR||Segura||Gosselin||Lamb||Peralta||Herrmann||Gosewisch||Borenstein||Bourgeois||Marzilli|
|3/13 vs CHW||Segura||Drury||Gosselin||Castillo||Weeks||Herrmann||O'Brien||Borenstein||Bourgeois|
|3/14 vs. SEA||Owings||Brito||Goldschmidt||Peralta||Lamb||Gosewisch||Marzilli||Pitcher||Ahmed|
|3/16 vs. CIN||Segura||Brito||Goldschmidt||Peralta||Castillo||Lamb||Bourgeois||Pitcher||Owings|
|3/17 vs. CHC||Segura||Brito||Goldschmidt||Peralta||Drury||Weeks||Hayes||Pitcher||Ahmed|
|3/18 vs. LAD||Owings||Ahmed||Goldschmidt||Lamb||Tomas||Borenstein||Castillo||Pitcher||Marzilli|
|3/19 vs. TEX||Segura||Gosselin||Goldschmidt||Peralta||Castillo||Drury||Guerrero||Pitcher||Bourgeois|
|3/19 vs. SEA||Brito||Ahmed||Owings||Lamb||Weeks||Borenstein||O'Brien||Hayes||Marzilli|
Again, the absence of Pollock and Tomas makes this murkier than I'd like. Chris Owings and Segura have been getting most looks at the top of the order, with Brito (perhaps a Pollock stand-in?) in the two-hold. Then we get the standard 3-4 combo of Paul Goldschmidt and David Peralta, and things then get semi-random thereafter. It does appear the team will be putting the pitcher in the eight-spot on a regular basis, as that has been done every time we have had them batting in spring. Doesn't look like it's just going to be Greinke hitting there. That aside, looks like the bottom half of the order will probably be comparatively fluid.
Two weeks tomorrow is Opening Day, so the time for experimentation is fast running out, and I expect another round of roster cuts on Tuesday or thereabout, will thin the herd significantly. The question of Pollock's health will also need to be addressed: while he still probably has enough time to be ready for Opening Day, the longer his absence, the more tricky that will become. We'll also be seeing - as yesterday - everyday players staying in for complete games, and confirming whether the plan will indeed be to hit the pitcher 8th consistently. While most positions came into spring already filled, I can't say the remaining questions have offered any easy answers thus far.