clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2018 Arizona Diamondbacks Player Reviews: #11, A.J. Pollock

New, 24 comments

The final season of arguably the best center fielder Arizona has ever had was not the one anyone was hoping for.

Colorado Rockies v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images
  • 2018 rating: 6.48
  • 2017 rating: 7.28
  • 2018 salary: $7,750,000
  • 2018 performance: 113 games, 460 PA, .257/.316/.484 = .800 OPS, 106 OPS+, 110 wRC+, 2.5 bWAR, 2.5 fWAR
  • 2019 status: Free-agent with qualifying offer attached (offer declined)

After the 2017 playoff season came to a close, a number of questions popped up surrounding the future of A.J. Pollock. Would the team keep him for 2019 and risk losing him to free agency? Would they trade him, trying to turn that one year of control and ability to make a qualifying offer into pieces for the future? Would Pollock be healthy enough to play significant time? Eventually, Arizona’s front office decided to try and build on the 2017 success and go for it all in 2018. This meant retaining potentially valuable trade pieces in Pollock and left-handed starter, Patrick Corbin.

Over the first six weeks of the season, Pollock established himself as one of the few healthy, productive members of the Arizona offense. Through May 14, Pollock had batted .293/.349/.620 with 11 home runs for an OPS of .969. Simply put, he was getting the job done, regardless of position played. Pollock though, was continuing to play exceptional defense in center field on top of reminding the world just how dynamic a player he could be. During the span, he also swatted 10 doubles, three triples, and stole nine bases. In short, Pollock was performing like the Pollock of old, the 2015 version that put up a 7.2 bWAR season.

But then things went south. Playing hard defensively, as he is known to do, Pollock dove for a sinking liner to center and missed. In the process, he managed to roll the thumb on his glove hand. The injury forced him to leave the game and sent Pollock to the DL.

Pollock wound up missing the next six weeks of the season. When he came back, his swing was still noticeably off. Gone too was his power stroke. While neither Pollock or the team ever tried to deflect the performance issues to lingering effects from the thumb injury, it is difficult not to draw a straight-line conclusion from his thumb being injured to his swing being off and devoid of power when he returned.

Pollock’s struggles at the plate over the last two months of the season coincided with Arizona’s swoon late-season swoon. The result is, Pollock took quite a bit of the blame for the team’s offensive woes. On the other hand, he continued to be strong defensively.

While not necessarily the home run-robbing highlights of Jarrod Dyson, these are the sorts of plays that Pollock made on a routine basis. His ability to cover so much ground and his strong center fielder instincts were a big part of why the Diamondbacks were the nest defensive team in baseball in 2018.

Despite Pollock’s struggles after returning from injury, he was not entirely absent. Just about the time people started writing him off, he would have a good game. This sort of play just served to irritate fans even more in the long run, as it was clear he still had the talent, but that he just wasn’t performing on the regular.

By the time the season came to a close, fan reception of Pollock had soured badly. Despite this, Pollock did salvage some goodwill with his final strong performance of the season, which happened to come at home in the final game against the Dodger. On that night, Zack Greinke pitched six solid innings and Pollock backed him up with a two hit night, one of those hits a three-run homer deep to center field, high enough to make it onto the concourse.

That’s not a bad night for his final home game as an Arizona Diamondback.

Outlook

After the season was over, the Arizona Diamondbacks made A.J. Pollock a qualifying offer. Unsurprisingly, Pollock turned the offer down. With the Diamondbacks trading away Paul Goldschmidt and also having a mandate to trim payroll, it seems unlikely that the Diamondbacks are even talking to Pollock’s agent about a potential return. Now, the Diamondbacks await news of how much Pollock signs for elsewhere. In order to maximize their return from making the qualifying offer, the Diamondbacks are rooting for Pollock to sign a deal worth more than $50 million. This seems like an almost sure thing to happen as it is rumored that the Mets, Reds, and Phillies are all showing significant interest in Pollock. When he does sign a deal worth more than $50 million, the Diamondbacks will net themselves another draft pick which will be located between the first round the the COmpetitive Balance A round of the draft.