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2022 Diamondbacks Rookie of the Year: Jake McCarthy

Yeah, turns out the award WAS his to lose... :)

Arizona Diamondbacks v San Francisco Giants Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Yeah, I’m not even going to bother with a breakdown of the votes in this one, since McCarthy got a massive supermajority, receiving 81.6% of the votes. Second place, should you care, was Drey Jameson a very long way back on 10.5%. It was pretty much a foregone conclusion, as soon as McCarthy came fourth in the National League Rookie of the Year voting, a position not surpassed by a Diamondback for a decade.

We’ll be giving McCarthy a full review as we go on with our player review series, and I don’t want to steal Justin’s thunder for when he writes McCarthy up! But let’s just throw a few stats and highlights up there. McCarthy posted an overall value of 2.4 bWAR in his rookie season. That’s the fifth highest figure in Arizona history by a position player:

  1. Ender Inciarte: 3.3 bWAR, 2014
  2. A.J. Pollock: 3.1 bWAR, 2013
  3. Christian Walker: 2.8 bWAR, 2019
  4. Alex Cintron, 2.7 bWAR, 2003
  5. Jake McCarthy, 2.4 bWAR, 2022

However it is worth noting that the four above him all received more playing time - considerably more in some cases - than McCarthy. He’s the only one of the five to have played in fewer than 100 games in his rookie season. Though it is a reasonable counter-argument that this was not due to injury or even a late arrival on the roster. McCarthy was simply optioned down to the minors twice this season, on April 25th and June 16th, missing about four weeks in each case. But it’s interesting to compare his numbers at the plate for each of his three spells in the majors.

  • To April 24: .120/.185/.240 = .425 OPS
  • May 20-June 14: .278/.328/.482 = .809 OPS
  • July 11 on: .302/.361/.434 = .795 OPS

You’d be hard pushed to argue against the first demotion being fully justified, but Jake looked a completely different hitter after coming back. Even though the power numbers dipped a little after the All-star break, what impressed about the final stint was the much-improved plate discipline. Combining the first two spells, McCarthy had a K:BB there of 30:5. But after he came back from Reno for good, that ratio improved to 46:18. Small sample size warnings apply, but he cut the strikeout rate in half. The K% was 34.9%, but dropped to 17.2%.

Hopefully that’s something on which he can continue to build, not least because balls in play help McCarthy make use of his elite speed. Per Statcast, he was the seventh fastest runner in the major league, among the over five hundred players with enough efforts to qualify. It’s hard to leg out an infield hit if you’re striking out, except in the unlikely event of a dropped third strike. As it was, his 17 infield hits trailed only Alek Thomas and Daulton Varsho - again, both of who saw more playing time Jake’s speed also allowed him to take an extra base e.g. going first to third on a single, 56% of the time. That’s well above the league average figure of 41%.

Let’s finish with a selection of Jake-lights from the 2022 campaign. You’ll find some triples to show that speed, his three longest home-runs and also a trio of defensive gems from the outfielder. Here’s to more of the same going forward!

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