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2023 Arizona Diamondbacks Reviews: #15, Alek Thomas

Syndication: Arizona Republic Rob Schumacher/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

Overview

  • Rating: 6.97

2023 stats: He played in 125 games, hit 9 home runs, 39 RBI and slashed .230/.273/.374 in 402 plate appearances. 17 doubles, 5 triples and went 9-1 in stolen bases. He struck out 86 times, to 19 walks. His OPS was .647 and OPS+ was 75. He grounded into 5 double plays.

  • Date of birth: April 28, 2000
  • 2023 salary: Baseball Reference lists it as $735,200
  • 2024 status: Pre arb. Baseball Reference says he is first eligible for salary aribitration in 2026, but FanGraphs has him at 2025.

2023 in review

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World Baseball Classic

Alek Thomas represented Team Mexico in this years’ WBC. He had previously represented the US in the 2017 U-18 World Baseball Cup. (The Dbacks drafted him in 2018.) The US won Gold 8-0 over South Korea.

The left-handed contact hitter went 13-for-36, .361 batting average, with eight runs batted in (RBIs). He was one of the outfielders named to the WBSC U-18 All-World Team.

https://www.wbsc.org/en/news/former-wbsc-u-18-baseball-world-cup-star-alek-thomas-celebrates-first-mlb-home-run

He played in all 6 games for Mexico, as the Mexican team went to the semi finals for the first time. Thomas went 4-20, with a walk and 5 strikeouts and 2 steals.

He did have a highlight reel catch against Will Smith at Chase Field, a precursor to the No Fly Zone Defense...

Alek Thomas talks Team Mexico


Regular Season

Alek Thomas’ regular season did not start very well, as he was 0-16 in his first 7 games before having a 4 hit hit night against the Dodgers on April 8th. The Dbacks scored 6 off Noah Syndergaard, but Zach Davies gave up 5 in that one....
https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/ARI/ARI202304080.shtml

In his next 31 games, until May 16th, he had 2 home runs, 5 doubles and 9 RBI in 99 plate appearances. He slashed .194/.232/.333, with an OPS of .566. He also had 26 strikeouts, to only 5 walks in this stretch. He was subsequently sent down to Reno.

His time in Reno went well. He made some adjustments to his swing and approach.

“Just my approach and my at-bats against lefties is what I’ve had the main focus on,” Thomas said. “And also a little bit of a two-strike approach, like a modified leg kick because I do have a pretty big leg kick. They asked me if I could try to have a hybrid-type swing with two strikes. I gave it a go, and it’s not too bad, so I’m just going to continue to work on that and also work on what I need to work on against lefties.”

https://nevadasportsnet.com/news/reporters/what-the-diamondbacks-want-alek-thomas-working-on-before-he-returns-to-the-majors

On June 17th, the big league club recalled him, sending down Josh Rojas, one of my other reviews, ironically.

With Reno, Thomas hit .348 with six doubles, two triples, three home runs, and a .927 OPS in 26 games. Against lefties, he hit .306 (11-for-36) with two doubles and a triple while striking out only six times.

https://www.si.com/mlb/diamondbacks/news/dbacks-recall-outfielder-alek-thomas-from-reno-option-infielder-josh-rojas

He had an immediate impact in his return, hitting a 2 run home run in the first inning off Corbin Burnes of the Brewers part of a 6 run inning. Also of note in that game, Merrill Kelly dominated going 7, striking out 7 and giving up 1 run on 3 hits.


All told, in his first 9 games back, he went 12-33, with 3 double to go along with the home run. In a couple of games in June, and the month of July, in 75 plate appearances he had 4 doubles, 3 home runs and 6 RBI and slashed .247/.2677.452 with an OPS of .719. During this stretch he walked twice and struck out 22 times!

In August, he played in 26 games, starting 19. He only had 4 extra base hits and just 6 RBI and slashed .266/.333/.375. September wasn’t really much better for him. He did have a 5 RBI game September 6th against the Rockies and a 3 RBI game on my birthday (9/15) against the Cubs. He started and played all 13 innings in the 9/16 walkoff win against the Cubs, going 1-4. All told in the month, he played 27 games, had 5 extra base hits and drove in 14. He slashed .187/.227/.297 with an OPS of .524. He struck out 19 times and walked 4.

One of Thomas’ highlight real defensive plays earned him a nomination for snakepit defensive play of the year. Ironically, it was against the Texas Rangers.
https://www.azsnakepit.com/2023/11/12/23954624/2023-snakepit-awards-play-of-the-year-nominations-open


Post Season


In 59 plate appearances in the 17 games the team played in, he hit 4 home runs, drove in 6, stole 2 bases and hit .222/.271/.463 with an OPS of .734. He had a HUGE pinch hit home run in game 4 against the Phillies to tie the game in the 8th. It the team had lost that game, they would have fallen down 3-1 in the series.

That earned him Snakepit Post Season play of the year.

https://www.azsnakepit.com/2023/11/18/23966938/2023-snakepit-plays-of-the-year-no-doubting-thomas-and-mccarthy


2024 outlook


FGs and Steamer both project him to play in about 130 games, hit 14/15 HRs and drive in 60-64 and bat about .261 with 10 steals. BR isnt as high on him, 11 HRs, 47 RBI and .244 in 442 PAs.