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Countdown to Arizona Diamondbacks Opening Day: D-4, Jake Lamb

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In 2017, will we get the tasty, flavorful Lamb of last year’s first half, or the overcooked mutton stew of the second?

Los Angeles Dodgers v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Ralph Freso/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 4: Jake Lamb

  • Date of birth: October 9, 1990
  • Ht/Wt: 6'3", 215lbs
  • Position: Infielder
  • Status: 40-man roster
  • Bats/Throws: L/R
  • 2016 MLB numbers: 151 games, 594 PA, .249/.332/.509, 29 HR, 91 RBI
  • SnakePit Rating: 8.00 [breakdown of votes below]

If Jake Lamb’s second half of 2016, had been like his first, he’d have ended the year hitting .291, with a .983 OPS, having hit 36 home-runs and driven in 110. How good would that have been? Well, no qualifying NL third-baseman has posted such a high OPS since Chipper Jones in 2008. But after being one of the most egregious All-Star snubs at the break, Lamb’s second half was a disaster. He batted below the Uecker Line, hitting .197, with an OPS that fell short of his earlier figure by a startling 320 points. Randy Holt of Fangraphs had a good post on Jake’s second-half struggles, which concluded a vulnerability on chasing high inside pitches may have been exposed.

Will that be fixed in 2017? Certainly, the third-base job is his, with his only rival, Brandon Drury, moving to second-base. But there are still concerns, such as Lamb’s apparent vulnerability to left-handed pitching: last year, his line there was .164/.279/.345, a .625 OPS that fell 273 points short of the figure against right-handers. Now, there’s evidence to suggest this was mostly hellacious struggles against left-handed relievers. If that has been mitigated in 2017, Lamb will likely be a much more well-rounded player. But until opponents see he has addressed it, the odds are good Lamb will see an awful lot of left-handed relievers, from about the sixth inning on.

A lot is expected from Lamb this year. With the departure of Jean Segura, Jake will need to shoulder the offense alongside Paul Goldschmidt, and there won’t be as much room for a slump. Lamb is lucky he started off hot, then cooled, and not the other way round; seems Yasmany Tomas got a lot less leeway, even as their overall 2016 offensive output was only 20 OPS points different. Of course, Jake was cheaper, and not so obvious a defensive liability, though the metrics were generally unimpressed [Jake improving on defense would be another chance for a significant step forward]. All told, I’m excited to see what he brings, and pick up my Lamb Baa-blehead...

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