- Date of birth: August 12th, 1991
- 2017 line: 97 games, .268/.299/.442, .741 OPS, 386 PA, 85 wRC+, 17 BB, 87 K
- 2017 value: .4 fWAR, .7 bWAR
- 2017 salary: $2,300,000
- SnakePit rating: 6.01
Staying on the field for an entire season has been a problem for much of Chris Owings’ career, and 2017 was no different. The 2009 first round draft pick missed the vast majority of the second half when he fractured his right middle finger on a bunt attempt against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 30th. That came the day after Robbie Ray was struck in the head by a comeback line drive making it a road series Diamondbacks fans would much rather forget. You will hear this a few times during player reviews this off season, Chris was part of a handful of Diamondbacks players who got off to a strong start but struggled as the second half of the season began.
Owings was the Opening Day starter at shortstop not having to cover center field this time around with a healthy A.J. Pollock, and it was his walkoff single in the bottom of the 9th of that game which set the tone for the season. He was one of six regular starters to end the month of April with an OBP north of .345, and it was arguably the best month of his season. By the end of May, he had a .315 AVG, 6 HR, and 29 RBI.
His HR total through that time frame had already tied his career high, and he would go on to finish his year with 12. If you are one to make a case for a “juiced” baseball in 2017, look no further than Chris Owings because he managed that total with only 97 games played, his lowest total since 91 games played in an injury shortened 2014. That added power came at the expense of his triples as he finished the 2017 campaign with 1, whereas he paced the National League in 2016 with 11. Finishing 2017 with 25 doubles, two shy of his career high, his .174 ISO was his highest in a season for his career.
However, Owings did also contribute to an overall midseason slump for the 2017 Diamondbacks. From June until his final plate appearance in July when his season ended, he hit for an anemic .215 AVG and really struggled in July with a .441 OPS. His walk rate dropped sharply as the season progressed all the way down to 1.2% in July, while his strikeout percentage trended in the wrong direction to a season high 29.4% that month. The loss of Chris one month after a HBP also ended Nick Ahmed’s 2017 season paved the way to regular playing time on the major league club for Ketel Marte who filled in rather admirably in their absence.
2017 Chris Owings
As reported by Fox Sports Arizona, Chris had a second surgery on his finger after the Postseason to ensure proper healing. He should still be ready by the time Spring Training begins. He is going into his second year of arbitration, and MLB Trade Rumors estimates his 2018 salary at $3,800,000.
There is going to be another middle infield logjam come Spring Training. Paul Goldschmidt and Jake Lamb will surely maintain their starting roles at first and third respectively. Ketel Marte played his way into the conversation after Owings and Ahmed were lost to injury. Daniel Descalso made a case and had his club option exercised, but Brandon Drury failed to secure the everyday role at second base. Ildemaro Vargas and Jack Reinheimer will likely find themselves back at AAA Reno to open the season, so that narrows down five players competing for two positions. Both Owings and Descalso have the ability to play in the outfield if absolutely necessary, and we are now aware of how often Torey Lovullo tends to rest his everyday starters. Other writers here have already discussed possible platoons at all infield positions besides first base, so barring an offseason trade we will probably see all five make the Opening Day roster.
Owings will have to demonstrate an ability to stay on the field and produce consistently if he does not want to see his playing time diminish to one of the other options. If he can replicate his performance from April and May for an extended period of the 2018 season, he will be the best option of the group. He should be entering the best years of his career as he will not turn 27 until August and can be a real threat at the top of the lineup should he put it all together.