Minimum of 15 plate-appearances required here. Let’s not go too far down this rabbit-hole, shall we?
Jake Lamb: 8-for-15, HR, six RBI, 1.529 OPS
If the D-backs are to do anything this year - and I mean simply get back toward .500, not anything involving playoffs - Lamb will be called upon to stand beside Paul Goldschmidt and carry the offense. So far, so good, and I look forward to seeing him hit better than .500 over the course of the regular season... How he handles facing left-handed pitchers is likely going to be key for him. Lamb batted just .164 against them in 2016, with the numbers appearing to indicate particular issues against southpaw relievers. Doing better in 2017, could lead to a good uptick in production, and if he can sustain his first half of 2016 for the whole year, that would help too.
Daniel Descalso: 6-for-15, HR, three RBI, 1.167 OPS
We won’t be seeing Descalso for a bit, as he’s off playing in the World Baseball Classic for Italy. However, in terms of replacing Phil Gosselin as a utility infielder, Daniel has made a good first impression. He has been showing patience at the plate, with a K:BB of 3:3. Only A.J. Pollock (whose ratio is 2:5), has taken more walks than Descalso for the D-backs this spring. He also rebuilt his swing before last season, and seemed to reap the rewards in 2016. “Now I feel like my bat gets on plane a little bit sooner and stays through the zone longer. I feel like I have a better chance of making good, solid contact.”
Oscar Hernandez: 5-for-15, two HR, five RBI, 1.108 OPS
Okay, who had Oscar in sole possession of the Diamondbacks’ lead in home-runs after the first 12 games of Cactus League play? The offense is not entirely unexpected - across all levels last year, Oscar hit 11 homers in 267 at-bats - but I’m also hearing good things about his defense. Taijuan Walker raved about Hernandez after Walker’s last start, saying “He’s unbelievable behind the plate, has soft hands, calls a good game, too... I like throwing to him because he’s a big target, great frame, has a great arm. But he doesn’t just put stuff down. He really takes time and focuses on what pitches to throw.”
Yasmany Tomas: 0-for-17, zero BB, .056 OPS
And it doesn’t get much badder...er, worse than Tomas, whose only time on base this spring so far, came after a pitch got caught in his gravitational well and was unable to achieve escape velocity. But manager Torey Lovullo is unconcerned: "I would not have known he was 0 for 17... I know he might be experiencing a little bit of frustration internally because he hasn't got a hit but we feel very comfortable that last year's numbers were not a fluke. We just need him to be consistent and as good as he can be." Though Lovullo did say Tomas was "Maybe a little bit too jumpy and not seeing the ball," adding, "We gotta practice patience here, swing at strikes and see the ball."
Chris Herrmann: 1-for-14, three BB, .307 OPS
Is Hernandez breathing down Herrmann’s neck for the third catcher’s job? With Chris Iannetta and Jeff Mathis inked to major-league contracts and apparently secure in their spots, it may come down to Chris vs. Oscar. Herrmann’s major plus is likely the positional range he has, Lovullo saying, “I believe in lineup flexibility, I believe in flexible players,” which is about as close to a specific shout-out to Herrmann as you’re going to get. He is at least showing patience, with a K:BB of 4:3, so it may just be a case of waiting for the hits to start dropping in.
Nick Ahmed: 4-for-22, zero BB, .447 OPS
Nick would need to be carrying a bowling-ball, in order to be hitting his weight in the Cactus League so far. This is my unsurprised face. Admittedly, I think we’ve got past the point where we expect any significant offensive production from Ahmed at all. For of the 232 hitters to have had 700+ PAs in the majors over the past two seasons, Ahmed’s OPS+ of 60 ranks... 232nd. But that’s not where his value is, and as long he remains a defensive wiz, that’s okay. However, these spring figures are low, even for Nick. If they are sustained, he would be in severe danger of playing himself out of any kind of starting job and into not much more than a late-inning defensive replacement.