In the second installment of this Mid-Season Report Card, I will be taking a look at players 7-13 on the most Plate Appearances list this season. As one might expect, this list won’t include many all-stars or everyday starters, but rather will include more platoon players and/or part time players. These players, however, are just as important as the stars of the team, and have been playing extremely well. There have been some amazing stories and performances from this group, and as we enter the second half they will continue to play a huge role in the success of this team.
Since the first installment of this series was far more controversial than I was expecting, I imagine that this second part will be even more so. Remember that this is merely my opinion of how well the player has performed thus far in 2017, and is in no way reflective of other’s opinions here at the Snake Pit. It is also not a skill rating, because if it were, then let’s be honest, some players would never get above a “B” or a “C”. Instead, it is a mix of objective analytics and subjective measures that is supposed to be a grade of how well that player has played to their potential. On with the Report Card!
Daniel Descalso (199 PA): B+
Descalso has been one of the major veteran presences on this Diamondbacks team, and he has been valuable in playing many different positions. He has played in two different World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals, and won one, so he has definitely been involved in more pressure packed situations that most on this roster. This year he has spent time at all four infield positions as well as left field so he has also provided some positional flexibility for Lovullo and the team. He has also been about as clutch as possible, having a “Clutch” value of 1.21 this year… For reference, Goldy’s incredible 2013 was a 1.81 “Clutch” value for the whole year according to fangraphs. Although he has a decent wRC+ of 102 this year, I think that he is worthy of a B+ because of all of these aforementioned items.
A.J. Pollock (186 PA): D+
Right out of the gate the grading in Part II gets difficult with a player that has Goldy like potential, but has only been able to play in 44 games this year… Although I re-ordered this list to reflect the number of Plate Appearances as of today (since I forgot to post this a week or so ago), Pollock doesn’t even have half as many as his superstar counterparts Paul Goldschmidt and Jake Lamb. Pollock is absolutely electric when he is healthy and on the field, playing elite defense, hitting for average and power, and stealing bases like it was the 1980’s. The big problem is that he hasn’t able to stay healthy. When he has played this year, he has been on a 162-game pace of scoring nearly 100 runs, getting nearly 200 hits, and stealing almost 50 bases; the potential is dripping at the seams, and that was evident in 2015. Let’s hope that his return from the DL is a permanent one and he can help lead the Dbacks to the playoffs.
Nick Ahmed (178 PA): C+
For a lot of players an OPS+ of 79 would be a down year, but for Ahmed this represents a much welcomed career high. For quite a while there were many people that just said, if only Ahmed could hit .230 he would be an everyday player because his defense was just that good. But this year Ahmed’s defense was not quite what it was in the past. Now, that is not to say that it was not still near elite levels, but I don’t know if it was enough to overcome a .298 OBP to be extremely valuable as an everyday player. Because of this, I felt that Ahmed’s value was not as high as it would have been if his defense were still as great as it was it past years, and his offense was not improved enough to overcome that. C+ seems accurate to me.
Gregor Blanco (162 PA): C
Blanco is a case of potential that is not nearly as high as someone like Goldy or Lambs, but he is playing well enough to provide an acceptable replacement for Pollock. However, he is not valuable enough as an everyday center fielder (as we saw when Pollock was on the DL) but he did his best and filled in admirably. Although he provides an incredible amount of leadership and veteran presence on an otherwise young and inexperienced team, he is still well below replacement level, and his defense is not on par with what it has been in the past. This may just be the typical physical decline for an outfielder entering his mid-30’s, so a “C” for me sounds about accurate.
Catching Staff (447 PA): A-
I decided to clump the three catchers together into one evaluation for reasons twofold:
- They all have nearly the same number of Plate Appearances: Chris Herrmann – 160, Chris Iannetta – 146, and Jeff Mathis – 141
- There has been a lot more to the success of these three catchers than just the typical offensive analysis. They have been absolutely paramount in the successes of the pitching staff.
These three catchers have been worth a combined -1.0 WAR according to baseball reference, but that is why we can rely 100% on that number when determining value. They have helped the Diamondbacks to have the second best team ERA in all of baseball at 3.42, which is almost a half of a run better than the third place team. The pitching staff has also been worth an astonishing 17.5 bWAR and it’s tough to tell how much of that is attributable to the catching staff, but I am willing to bet that it’s a decent amount. The catchers have not been completely devoid of any offense however. Combining for 17 HR and 53 RBI’s and 42 runs, they have come up with clutch hits and important offensive performances throughout the year. To me, they have been good enough as a trio to get an A- from me.
This group is full of veterans and part time players, but their value is undeniable to the team. They have all been instrumental in one way or another to the team’s early success (recent struggles notwithstanding) and will play a big role in the playoff push. Let me know what you think of the grades in the comments, and tell me what your grades are too. Pitching Report Card will be coming out in a couple of days, and as always, Go Dbacks!