- Date of birth: October 19th, 1986
- 2017 line: 131 games, .233/.332/.395, .727 OPS, 398 PA, 88 wRC+, 49 BB, 89 K
- 2017 value: .1 fWAR, -.2 bWAR
- 2017 salary: $1,500,000
- SnakePit rating: 7.08
Daniel Descalso appeared in the most games he has seen in a season since he played in 143 for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2012. It was only the third time in his career that he had played in more than 130 games and probably a bit more than desired due to midseason injuries to Nick Ahmed, Chris Owings, and Yasmany Tomas. I willingly admit that I was initially confused when Mike Hazen replaced Phil Gosselin with Descalso last offseason. Michael McDermott informed us prior to the start of the 2017 season that Descalso had a tendency to perform in “high leverage” situations, and that trend continued into this most recent season. In those moments in 2017, Descalso hit .368/.510/.632 for a 214 wRC+ in 46 plate appearances. Baseball Reference shows different stats in high leverage, but they paint the same picture nonetheless. Talk about channeling your inner David Ortiz. Where he particularly excelled was in games that were in the 7th inning or later and the score separated by 1 run or less. In 73 such plate appearances in those situations, he hit .293/.438/.517 with 7 XBH, 16 RBI, and 11 walks. He has been that guy for much of his career, and that is what separates him from other veteran utility players that are at or below replacement level.
2017 saw Daniel Descalso sharply increase his hard contact % to 37% which is nearly 10% higher than his career average. Hitter friendly Chase Field and “juiced ball” or not, that type of improvement will typically result in better power for most players which is what happened for Descalso. He posted a .163 ISO, much higher than his career .119 ISO, and hit a career high 10 home runs to go with 5 triples and 16 doubles. Daniel appeared in multiple positions all over the field playing first base in 12 games, second base in 44 games, third base in 12 games, 35 games in left field, and 1 at shortstop. He was nothing short of an asset during the small sample size of the postseason hitting .333/.538/1.111 with 2 home runs, 1 double, and 4 walks in 13 plate appearances. His home run in Game 3 of the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers was the Diamondbacks lone run in that game.
The Arizona Diamondbacks recently announced that they have picked up Daniel’s $2 million club option, and I can hardly argue against that decision. There have been worse “veteran presents” signings in recent franchise history (see Cody Ross 2013), so even if Descalso fell off of a cliff in 2018 it is not a move that will hurt Ken Kendrick’s quest to acquire the most extravagant baseball card collection. Ideally, it would be best to see him a bit less next season and come off the bench more frequently in those late and close situations with the game on the line. That would require better health from Chris Owings, Nick Ahmed, and Yasmany Tomas and more consistency from Jake Lamb and Brandon Drury. It is an asset to have Daniel on the bench to plug in to a variety of positions should the need arise.