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Sorting out the 2019 Arizona Diamondbacks infield

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From the bullpen, we move over to the infield.

Colorado Rockies v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images

This week, we’ll be discussing the infield in the same way as we talk about Arizona’s relievers last week. We start today by listing the potential candidates and asking you to rank them in order of quality, then on Wednesday., we’ll discuss the results and ask you to tell us who you think actually will make the Opening Day roster in those roles. No shortage of candidates to discuss, though I’m going to assume for the purposes of this exercise that Ketel Marte will indeed be moving to the outfield as our cernter-fielder. The team has been increasingly stating that’s the case. Maybe it’s just a feint.... Anyway. he’ll be discussed in the outfielder category down the road.

The candidates

Here are the players on the 40-man roster along with the non-roster invitees who’ll be showing up at Salt River Fields this week (the NRIs don’t have a number).

  • Nick Ahmed (13)
  • Alex Avila (31)
  • Jazz Chisholm
  • Kevin Cron (68)
  • Eduardo Escobar (5)
  • Wilmer Flores (41)
  • Tyler Heineman
  • Carson Kelly (18)
  • Jake Lamb (22)
  • Domingo Leyba (74)
  • Wyatt Mathisen
  • John Ryan Murphy (36)
  • Juniel Querecuto
  • Kelby Tomlinson
  • Ildemaro Vargas (15)
  • Daulton Varsho
  • Christian Walker (53)
  • Andy Young

Link to poll

You get to drag and drop these in the order of preference., from the best at the top, down to the worst at the bottom. It’s going to be interesting to see who ends up where: now Paul Goldschmidt is no longer with Arizona, I couldn’t guarantee you who will end up on top of the chart. There are there or four possible candidates, for whom you could make a case. So I’m curious about the results here. As before, options are not to be considered an issue here, because we’ll be discussing those as a factor later in the week. However, let’s take a quick look around the diamond and see who are the leading contenders at each position, as we head into spring training.

Catcher

New arrival Carson Kelly looks set to be the frontline catcher. But we’ll see whether Torey Lovullo goes with the “personal catcher” approach again: in particular, who’ll be Zack Greinke’s regular battery-mate? The other question is, will the D-backs carry three catchers on the roster again? They did last season, though it’s hard to see it proving effective. If not, then John Ryan Murphy could find himself on the outside.

First base

Replacing Paul Goldschmidt will probably be the biggest issue the D-backs face this season. It seems that Jake Lamb will be the primary occupant - at least, against right-handed pitching. With a 281-point split in OPS, it’ll be interesting to see how many left-handers Jake gets to see this year. The team has alternatives like Kevin Cron and Christian Walker from the other side of the plate.

Second base

Presuming that Marte is indeed headed for an outfield role, it seems that Wilmer Flores is probably going to be the everyday starter here. But as at most spots on the infield, it does seem that flexibility is going to be key. Depending on how far Torey Lovullo wants to platoon things, we may see a very different line-up against left-handed and right-handed opposing starters.

Shortstop

Nick Ahmed became the full-time shortstop for the first time in his career, surpassing his previous high in plate-appearances by more than a hundred. His power spiked, hitting 16 home-runs, though his on-base percentage remained disappointingly low, at below .300. Still, his defense was as good as ever, winning Ahmed his first Gold Glove, and overall, it was a very productive season. Hopefully, he can repeat it in 2019.

Third base

With Lamb moving across the diamond, it looks like the hot corner will be manned this year by Eduardo Escobar, signed to a contract extension in an unexpected move early in the off-season. Overall, he has been mostly a shortstop in his career, but over the last couple of years, Escobar has spent more time at third. He’s a switch-hitter, slightly better from the right-hand side - but at only a 35-point OPS difference, it’s considerably smaller than Jake’s split.