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Countdown to Arizona Diamondbacks Opening Day: D-17, Daniel Descalso

The part of Phil Gosselin will be played this season by Daniel Descalso.

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Arizona Diamondbacks Photo Day Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

We asked you to rank the 40-man roster along with the 16 non-roster invitees to spring training, and every day between now and the eve of Opening Day, we’ll have a profile of one of those Diamondbacks.

D minus 17: Daniel Descalso

  • Date of birth: October 19, 1986
  • Ht/Wt: 5’10”, 190 lbs
  • Position: Infielder
  • Status: 40-man roster
  • Bats/Throws: L/R
  • 2016 MLB numbers: 99 games, 289 PA, .264/.349/.424, 8 HR, 38 RBI
  • SnakePit Rating: N/A

Descalso’s arrival and the departure of Phil Gosselin both came after the poll here closed. I figured I’d plug Daniel in where Gosselin’s 5.36 ranked, since they look likely to fill similar utility infield roles: both started at the same positions (1B, 2B, 3B and LF) on their teams last year. So why did we opt for a new face, at more money? For over his career, Gosselin has been a better hitter - OPS+ of 93, compared to Descalso’s 80. Sample size may play into it: Gosselin had just 261 PA’s before 2016, and when he got more playing time (appearing 122 times, albeit with only 33 starts), his numbers suffered, with an OPS+ of 81. Meanwhile, Descalso had a good rebound year in Colorado (93 OPS+) after a horrible 2015, having revamped his swing.

Descalso is also a left-handed bat, which provides more balance to an infield where Jake Lamb may well be the only southpaw hitter on the roster (depending on what happens to switch-hitter Ketel Marte, and how you class Chris Herrmann). Though oddly, Descalso’s career figures are actually fractionally better against left-handed pitching than righties (.684 vs. .663). When Michael dug into the numbers, he also found a better high-leverage player: “Descalso is a career .308/.396/.421 hitter in high leverage situations, good for a 124 wRC+. In that situation his walk rate increases to 13.1% and his strikeout rate drops to 16.5%.” We could do with another tough lefty out off the bench: last year, the closest we had was probably Herrmann.

If you haven’t seen Descalso in spring training much lately, that makes sense as he had been playing for Italy in the World Baseball Classic, and only returned to the D-backs today. Proving his heritage was a whole thing, involving tracking down the birth certificate of his great-grandfather, who was born there. While they didn’t make it out of pool play, losing a heart-breaker of a tie-breaker, 4-3 to Venezuela, Daniel acquitted himself well, going 5-for-15 with a pair of walks and a double. He is now back with the team, and I’m curious to see what he brings to the team, and compare his output against that of Gosselin, since traded to the Pirates.

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