We are now roughly halfway through the 2017 MLB season, and the Diamondbacks have done nothing but impress, and exceed all expectations. They are on pace for 100+ wins and that is even with A.J. Pollock having been on the shelf for quite some time. Every year around this time, I like to do a little mid-season report card and discuss how well (or in some years, how poor) our beloved players are doing. This year will be no different, and as such, the following is that report. This particular piece will be focused on the position players. Let’s see how our players grade out, shall we?
As a unit, they are above average, but not quite into full A territory for me. They have been successful enough to have enormous outbursts of runs, averaging 5.25 runs per game, good enough for second best in the NL. Yet, they have also shown inconsistency, which I suppose is to be expected with a younger team. They are above average in almost every category, and in the top 3 or 4 in many. Yet, when adjusted for league and park factors, they rate barely above average with a 97 OPS+. But since this has come without A.J. Pollock, and temporary hiatuses from Yasmany Tomas, David Peralta, and Chris Iannetta I think that an A- is warranted. I am excited to see what they may be able to do if everyone continues to play well, and A.J. Pollock can return and stay healthy.
Since it would be a little bit of an overkill to write about every player with an at bat this year, I will limit the grading to any player with more than 100 Plate Appearances. Also note that this is not a grade for their offense, or their defense, but everything as a whole. I will be using statistics as a base for most of my grading, but subjective measures will have a slightly heavier weight than a purely analytical approach. This is part one, and will cover the six players with the most plate appearances for the team. Part II will be coming in a day or two. Onward we go!
Paul Goldschmidt (340 PA): A+
Does it still surprise us that Goldy is this good? For me personally, it does not surprise me, but I make sure that I do not take one minute of it for granted. He is having a monster first half, and with the Dbacks playing as well as they have, he would have strong MVP consideration if the award was handed out right now. He is currently on pace to have a triple slash of .323/.439/.596 which would all be career bests. He is also on pace to set career bests in:
- Hits – 186
- Runs – 140
- Home Runs – 38
- RBI’s – 134
He is every bit the franchise player that we all know him to be, and his seems to always find a way to be productive. He has had some fall off in his second half performances in his career, so hopefully that’s not the case this year because this may be his best shot yet at winning MVP honors.
Jake Lamb (330 PA): A-
Jake is having a great year, and is continuing to develop into a major threat in the four hole behind Goldy. He is triple slashing .286/.382/.544, and has seen a rise in his walk rate. He is also on pace to hit an impressive 36 Home Runs and have 126 RBI’s. To put that into some sort of perspective, his season’s offensive numbers are fairly similar to Goldy’s 2013 numbers, which as we all remember was quite special. Now, I’m not saying that they are the same or even that Lamb is as good, but his offensive skills this year have shown a lot of promise and he has been very successful.
Now, with all of that good stuff being said, I was on the fence about giving him an “A-“ and almost gave him a “B+”. The reason for that is because of three things:
- His defense continues to be shaky at times, and is a far cry from how good he was defensively in 2015.
- His strikeouts remain high, and he is on pace for 170+ K’s.
- And lastly, he continues to struggle mightily against lefties. He is triple slashing a wretched .123/.219/.246 against lefties albeit in just 73 Plate Appearances.
His amazing numbers against righties this year, and the protection that he has provided Goldy in the lineup kept him in the A-range for me though.
Chris Owings (293 PA): B+
Chris is having a very solid year at the plate and in the field. He doesn’t have quite the numbers that the two players preceding him on this list do, but he is doing well all around. His walk rate remains low, but his average is hovering right around .300 and he is hitting for a lot more power than he has shown previously in the majors. This power is likely not a desert mirage because his numbers are more in line with some of his minor league numbers. He is on pace for nearly 20 Home Runs, 90 RBI’s, 40 Doubles, and 22 Stolen Bases. His defense hasn’t been over the top great, but is certainly not bad; a B+ for Owings seems about right to me.
David Peralta (275 PA): B
The Freight Train is having a decent year at the plate, and has shown some great defense at times. However, there have also been times when his defense was about as bad as ... oh, I don’t know ... someone staring into the sun with their sunglasses resting on their ball cap? Anyways ... Even with a few defensive miscues, and a short injury stint, he has been fairly productive on offense, and has shown some plus defense at times. Peralta has a triple slash of .321/.371/.488 which is good enough for a 116 OPS+ even with Arizona being his home park.
Peralta is on pace to score 100 runs, with 160 hits, and 30 doubles. His Home Run and RBI totals aren’t quite what they were two years ago, but that is likely a result of hitting second in the order instead of fourth or fifth. Otherwise, he is on track to post almost 4.0 bWAR which is right where he was at in 2015.
Brandon Drury (269 PA): B-
It is very easy to forget that Brandon Drury is still only 24 years old. After a decent year last year in his age-23 season, some people thought that this might be his big break out year. While he is not breaking out in a way like an Aaron Judge or a Cody Bellinger, he has shown marked improvement across the board. And this improvement is despite having a pretty long rough patch earlier in the year.
Brandon continues to show improvement defensively too, and I think that by season’s end he will have become an amazing second baseman defensively. In addition to the defense, his work ethic is impeccable and has shown the ability to make adjustments to make himself better. As far as offense is concerned, he is on pace for 16 Home Runs, and 76 RBI’s with almost 40 doubles. His triple slash of .288/.335/.468 is not all-star like, but it is certainly impressive for such a young player.
Yasmany Tomas (180 PA): D
Yasmany is quite the interesting conundrum. Last year he seemed to continue to grow and develop as a ball player offensively while posting a respectable 108 OPS+ and harnessing his potential power. He hit 31 Home Runs, had 83 RBI’s, and improved his ISO by more than 100 points. His bWAR was trending from the negative territory toward positive value, but that was until this year happened. He seemingly can’t get into a decent playing shape, despite playing baseball for a living and getting paid millions of dollars to do so. And his current injury could very well be a result of his lack of physical preparedness.
But, for a minute let’s pretend that his physical condition and defense weren’t an issue. He still wasn’t hitting this year, which adds yet another derogatory mark to this report card. He was hitting .241 with an OBP of .291 before the injury, and his strikeout rate was increasing. To display just how bad he was on defense, he had only played 47 games but was worth -0.9 dWAR according to baseballreference.com. And this doesn’t even tell the whole story, considering there was a play earlier this year where he missed a ball in left field and didn’t even attempt to get up and pick it up. The only thing keeping him from getting an F in my eyes is that he had some clutch hits and big home runs and power. But unless his power is akin to Barry Bonds circa 2001, it’s hard to not see him as a negative in a cost benefit analysis (i.e. he’s making more than Goldy).
For the most part, these players have all had a huge part in the success of the team so far, and have helped to mold the amazing stories that are unfolding this summer. I think that we have a fun three months ahead of us, especially if we can find some way to make the Dodger’s lose! Let me know your grades and/or thoughts in the comments. Part II will be up in a couple of days, depending on how much work I have this weekend. Go Dbacks!