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Diamondbacks Game Preview #84: 7/8 vs. Rockies

Two months ago, Alek Thomas debuted in the big leagues. Let’s check in on how he has done.

San Francisco Giants v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

Charlie Blackmon - DH Josh Rojas - 3B
Kris Bryant - LF Alek Thomas - CF
Brendan Rodgers - 2B David Peralta - LF
C.J. Cron - 1B Christian Walker - 1B
Ryan McMahon - 3B Daulton Varsho - RF
Jose Iglesias - SS Cooper Hummel - DH
Randal Grichuk - RF Geraldo Perdomo - SS
Yonathan Daza - CF Sergio Alcantara - 2B
Brian Serven - C Jose Herrera - C
Chad Kuhl - RHP Zac Gallen - RHP

Thomas’s arrival in the majors resulted from a bit of a domino effect. It began after Carson Kelly had to go on the 10-day injured list, with a left oblique strain. That necessitated Daulton Varsho being called back from the outfield to share catching duties with Jose Herrera instead, which opened up a spot for Thomas. He debuted that night, doubling in his second at-bat, and has been almost an ever-present in the D-backs line-up since, appearing in 53 of the 55 team games played since he arrived. 49 of those were starts, and despite missing the first month of the season, only David Peralta has appeared more often in the outfield this year for Arizona.

His offensive line so far is .244/.305/.411 for a .716 OPS (and a 102 OPS+). That’s interesting, because it’s close to what I predicted at the time of his arrival: “Across his AAA career, he has a glowing line of .332/.404/.592 for a .996 OPS. But obvious counterpoint: hello, it was for Reno... From previous analyses, we seem to be looking at a drop of about 300 points in OPS, which would take Thomas down to about a .700 OPS. Considering he only turned 22 ten days ago, that feels about right.” With 282 Triple-A PA, and just shy of 200 at the majors, this is a very nice confirmation of the inflation to AAA numbers resulting from the offensive environment of the Pacific Coast League.

Still, Thomas is having a very nice rookie campaign. Over those 53 games (so about one-third of a full season), he has put up 1.4 bWAR and 1.0 fWAR. Among National League rookie position players, that ranks him second by bWAR, behind only Brendan Donovan, and fourth by fWAR. Assuming good health, a three bWAR season would seem within reach. There have only been two such rookie position player seasons in franchise history, and both were by players a bit older than Thomas. A.J. Pollock posted 3.1 bWAR in 2013, as a 25-year-old, and Ender Inciarte reached 3.3 bWAR the following season, at the age of 23. The best 22-year-old or younger for Arizona, was Chris Owings at 1.6 bWAR, also in 2014.

Joe Mather audio

Joe Mather notes

  • Barry Enright was throwing batting practice to Gerarldo Perdomo, Jose Herrera and Alek Thomas. It’s a very control version of the game, showing realistic spin and arm action. “It’s about as good as it gets as far as training,” and it’s a growing trend around the game.
  • Geraldo Perdomo hasn’t seen as many walks lately. As we say last night, he’s having an issue with the curve, and pitchers have been attacking it. We’re having to find ways to counterpunch, such as getting Enright to throw curveballs in practice. May be some fatigue there.
  • Sergio Alcantara gives the team a few more options, being a switch-hitter, and that may help Perdomo pace himself.
  • Teams are going after the young guys like Perdomo, Buddy Kennedy and Thomas at the bottom of the order, and they’re pitching them tough.
  • David Peralta’s launch angle has increased dramatically this year, from 5.3 to 17.3 degrees. He’s really committed to the adjustments made in the off-season, and to maintaining the same routine. But over the past month or so, it’s kinda clicked.