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Third Base: Three Nominations

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Three very different choices were nominated.

Was Gavin Lux happy to be nominated?
Was Gavin Lux happy to be nominated?
Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Your nominations included two players I had not considered, Nick Ahmed and Gavin Lux. The remaining nomination is a platoon of Drew Ellis/Josh Rojas (see comments to this AZ Snake Pit article.)

Which of these 3 nominations will you pick to play third base for the Diamondbacks next season? Although you could jump down to the poll and vote, a short blurb on each nominee follows.

Nick Ahmed

The biggest reason to play Nick Ahmed at third base is that it gives Geraldo Perdomo playing time at shortstop. In September Perdomo’s performance was outstanding. Like he was in 2021, Perdomo could be the youngest Diamondback in the Majors at 22 years old. When Perdomo needs a day off, Nick Ahmed could cover shortstop.

A secondary reason to move Nick Ahmed is the last two seasons he had bursitis and biceps tendinitis. Several times last season his injury was aggravated per Nick Piecoro. Moving to third would keep Ahmed healthier.

At 32 years old, Nick Ahmed is the oldest of the nominees. Although he has not played at third base, because of his defensive prowess at shortstop, it’s fair to assume he would be the best defensively of the three nominations.

In 2021, Nick Ahmed’s .778 OPS against left handed pitchers was the highest of the nominees. Josh Rojas’ .775 OPS against lefties was very nearly as high.

One example of a player who successfully moved from shortstop to third base was Alex Rodriguez. He was 28 years old when he started playing third base. He won two MVPs at third base.

An example of a player who successfully moved from shortstop to second was was Buddy Harrelson. This may be a better example because his biggest talent was defense. He was 34 years old and continued to have positive defensive WAR.

For further information see Nick Ahmed’s 2021 player review.

[Nick Ahmed] “…his defense is so elite…he crushes lefties, he has power…” — Mike Hazen

[Nick Ahmed] “…dedicated to getting the most out of [his] ability…” — Torey Lovullo

Drew Ellis/Josh Rojas

At 26 and 27 years old, these two players are near the beginning of their careers. Last season, Josh Rojas’ OPS was .752 in 550 PAs and Drew Ellis’ OPS was .480 in 83 PAs.

The biggest advantage of platooning Josh Rojas is that it frees him to play other positions when it gains an advantage. Last season he played 5 positions.

A secondary reason to play Josh Rojas at third base is that Diamondback fans voted Josh Rojas as last season’s unsung hero. In an October poll, they voted him as the best candidate to play third base, albeit that poll had different choices so that the outcome of the current poll is in doubt.

Drew Ellis’ first 83 PAs in the Majors was a very small sample size and I’m confident he will improve next season, as are the early projections by Marcel and Steamer. I’m confident Josh Rojas will improve, although the early projections differ. Early projections follow:

  • Marcels and Steamer project Ellis’ OPS to increase from .480 to .678/.672 next season.
  • Marcels and Steamer project Rojas’ OPS to decrease from .752 to .708/.709 next season.

Wesley Baier interviewed Drew Ellis in this AZ Snake Pit article. For further information see the 2021 player reviews.

Drew Ellis 2021 Review

Josh Rojas 2021 Review

[Drew Ellis] “…He’s played very well defensively….” — Mike Hazen

“He has really good actions on defense, I think he’s commanding the strike zone when he’s at the plate and controlling the at-bat.” — Torey Lovullo

[Josh Rojas] “His biggest strength is getting on base. His line drives per AB and his OBwooge ranked very high in the Majors.” — Makakilo

Gavin Lux

At 24 years old, he is the youngest nomination.

The biggest advantage of playing Gavin Lux at third base is that at age 24 he has upside potential as well as being under team control via arbitration through the 2026 season.

Another advantage is that in a pinch Gavin Lux can play center field. In the regular season of 2021, he played 45.1 innings at center field with zero errors. In the postseason of 2021, he played 31.0 innings at center field with one error. His skill set is consistent with playing center field, unlike other Diamondbacks.

In 2021, Gavin Lux’s .747 OPS against right handed pitchers was the highest of the nominees. Josh Rojas’ .744 OPS against righties was very nearly as high.

In 2021, his zero DRS and his negative 1 Outs Above Average (OAA) at third base are likely nearly as good as Nick Ahmed’s would be at third.

The one downside, and it’s a big one, is that acquiring him would mean executing a trade with the Dodgers. Justin27 pointed out that excluding two “purchases,” the most recent trade with the Dodgers was in 2009. On the other hand, not trading players for 11 years does not mean it will never happen. My view is that unlike the Diamondbacks, the Dodgers do not have a position in the starting lineup for him. The possibility of such a rare trade would certainly demand attention and be an exciting opportunity.

For further information see Gavin Lux’s 2021 player review.

[Gavin Lux] “…So I certainly see him as an everyday Major League player and however that plays out for the roster, we’ll know in time.” — Dave Roberts


Voting will be open this week through Saturday, January 22nd.

Poll

Which is your preferred choice for third base?

This poll is closed

  • 30%
    Nick Ahmed.
    (29 votes)
  • 40%
    Platoon Drew Ellis & Josh Rojas.
    (38 votes)
  • 29%
    Gavin Lux.
    (28 votes)
95 votes total Vote Now