- Rating: 5.30
- 2023 stats: 99 G, 312 PA, .243/.318/.326 = .644 OPS, 77 OPS+, 0.5 bWAR
- Date of birth: July 30, 1997
- 2023 earnings: minor-league minimum
- 2024 status: On 40-man roster, pre-arbitration, 1 option remaining.
Jake McCarthy appeared in 99 games in 2022 and was one of the better players on the team after an initial slump. He also appeared in 99 games in 2023, but that was pretty much the only similarity between the years.
McCarthy was on the opening day roster and his first stint did not go well. With an OPS of .467, he was sent down to Reno at the end of April. He performed well in Reno, and came back to the majors on May 26. Between his recall and the All Star break was the best part of his season; he batted .300, albeit with a .389 BABIP and with little power. After the All Star break, he was basically the same batter but with less luck; his BABIP dropped to .300 and his average dropped to .243, still with no power. After a 1-for-16 home stand, he was optioned again. Once again, he tore up Reno and was recalled, and once again he had no power at the major league level.
He was named to the initial postseason roster, but was replaced on the roster by Jace Peterson due to an oblique injury.
He did steal 26 bases on the year. He’s still fast, he still has excellent outfield range, and probably the best arm of the group of young outfielders.
However, McCarthy will probably struggle to get playing time in 2024. The Diamondbacks would like to see more power out of their lineup, and Alek Thomas has clearly surpassed him in that department. Corbin Carroll is, of course, ahead of him on the list. With Lourdes Gurriel Jr. being re-signed, McCarthy will be battling for the fourth outfielder spot, and it remains to be seen whether he can surpass Dominic Fletcher or Pavin Smith on the depth chart for that role. Had he been healthy during the postseason, it’s probable that he would have been used as trade bait this offseason, and he still might.
So it’s “put up or shut up” time for McCarthy. Whether or not he makes the opening day roster is debateable, and there are plenty of outfielders in the pipeline who will be coming along in the next couple of years. While he’s a personal favorite and I want him to play often and well, realistically I have to acknowledge that 2024 is likely to be his last year with the organization, although whether he leaves by trade or non-tender remains to be seen.
However long McCarthy is around, we do need to appreciate that he has some of the best hair in the organization. I would guess that his mustache alone cost him 2 WAR last year, so hopefully he will lose the mustache and put together a career year.