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SnakePit Round Table: Corbin Carroll Corbin Carroll Corbin Carroll

What will we talk about this week, folks?

Arizona Diamondbacks v Detroit Tigers Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

What about that rookie, eh?

James: We all know who the leading candidate is for the NL Rookie of the Year Award. I’m just hoping more people nationally take notice. It is going to help his cause at the end of the season if the Diamondbacks do indeed make the playoffs. If they somehow win the NL West, he may even be a legit contender for the NL MVP, though that race is likely to be much closer. Of course, we still have more than half a season to go. There will be other challengers for both awards and Carroll is going to need to keep up this torrid pace through the end of the season.

Justin: Who might that be? I drafted him in the 5th round of the Snakepit Minor Leagues. Got some ribbing for it. No regrets… and I didn’t really think I was going to. It was more making sure others didn’t nab him.

Steven: He’s actually not been good since coming back up from the early season demotion. There’s virtually no power, and he continues to struggle like he did early on. Oh not Jake McCarthy? Maybe you mean Gabriel Moreno, who’s done just about everything you could ask. Sure, he could hit better but he’s still young and has proven he can catch at the MLB level. Not him either huh, oh I know, it’s the young pitchers! No? Oh Corbin, yeah he’s pretty good.

Makakilo: I liked the comments so far...what else can I add? Challenge accepted.

This season, the Diamondbacks played four position players who were very young:

  • 22.8 years old, Corbin Carroll
  • 23.1 years old, Alek Thomas
  • 23.3 years old, Gabriel Moreno
  • 23.6 years old, Geraldo Perdomo

Last week a friend gave me an Alek Thomas baseball card. That captured my attention. The result was an article about Alek Thomas which will likely post on Tuesday.

Sam: You mean the one that pitched scoreless 5 ⅔ innings for us, at one point setting down 11 in a row? Or the one that pitched the third-best game (by game score) of the season with seven scoreless innings against the Rockies? Anyways, strong rookies are a compelling way for a team like the Diamondbacks to improve on the previous season, simply because they weren’t on the team then or just made late-season cameos. And having a bunch of them allows the team to sift through and keep the best ones on the MLB roster while the rest continue their development in AAA, as the Dbacks have taken advantage of on both sides of the ball this year. Can’t do that with pricey veterans!

Spencer: He’s fantastic. I’m still a little worried about a Jordan Walker or Elly De La Cruz hot month confusing the national voters, but every day that worry lessens more and more.

Wesley: I don’t think Elly or any other rookie will be able to sustain a hot start long enough to surpass Carroll in value, who’s already accrued 2.8 bWAR and 3.0 fWAR in just 61 games. That’s a 7.3 and 8.4 season if he sustains this level of production.

What has impressed you most about Carroll’s play so far?

James: How quickly he is adjusting. Carroll has made sure to keep his adjustments ahead of the learning curve so far. His only real struggle seemed to come early, when he wasn’t yet taking any walks. He has corrected that and is now firing on all cylinders.

Justin: His quick adjustments. Hey, I didn’t want to just retype what James wrote. Also, I like his speed and SBes… I mean, that might have been a given, but wow. Just like VeeLoh said last week CC is in scoring position on 1B.

Steven: His all fields power. You just don’t see a young hitter like him hit it everywhere AND with power. The pull% rate is still massive - he’s ranked in the top 30 among qualifying hitters - but as pitchers start to work away, they’ll start to realize he can punish pitches middle-out.

Makakilo: This season, his reaction to his knee injury (when his knee bumped the outfield wall) showed maturity and mental strength. His reaction to adversity impressed me the most.

Sam: Like Steven, his recent opposite-field power surge has struck me. Maybe because I primarily watch condensed games, it feels like every time they pitch him up and away, he launches one out to left-center. Another moment that struck me was when he had that walk-off hit, the broadcast team commented on how the pitch he hit was 6-7 inches outside. Jody Jackson asked how much pride he takes in being able to hit pitches like that, and he admitted that his swing was a mistake – he really should be laying that off. In all the postgame interviews, I hadn’t often seen players turn questions phrased as compliments into admissions of error like that.

Spencer: All of it. But mostly his baserunning. He’s fast. Duh. But there was a two-ish week period in April/May where he wasn’t stealing at all. It overlapped with his injury but it continued. I got worried. Now I laugh at myself, because he always knows exactly where the ball is or will be and when he has a legit shot at being safe (be it stealing or taking the extra bag). The only time he makes and out, you know he just got beat by a better throw. TOOTBLAN is looking like a “stat” he will not dally with often in his career.

Wesley: I’ve been extremely impressed with just about everything he does, aside from the nitpicking which we’ll get into in the next question.

Are there areas for improvement?

James: I would say plate discipline and hitting lefties in general, but he seems to be handling both those issues at the moment. Sure, he could get better in those areas. If he is going to ride this great first third of the season to a postseason award, he’ll need to keep tweaking and improving as he goes.

Justin: He has yet to launch a ball through the Chase Field roof?

Makakilo: His batting against changeups could be improved. His run value per 100 pitches (changeups) fell from minus 0.5 to minus 3.3, and his wOBA (against changeups) fell from .277 to .203.

On the other hand, there is reason for optimism - his hard hit rate (against changeups) increased to 33.3%, and his expected wOBA (xwOBA) (against changeups) rose from .089 to .248.

Steven: We’re really nitpicking here but the defense in left has been below his standards, especially with his arm. That won’t be fixed any time soon, his one flaw as a prospect has been his below-average arm. The good news is that’s all defense and can be worked on in the offseason if the team and player thinks it’s worth spending time on improving.

Sam: Yeah, definitely his arm in left, which teams already seem to be taking advantage of when he plays out there. Less commonly cited, we were all obviously relieved when he recovered quickly from the outfield wall collision, but you’d also like him to learn how to avoid going all-out and risking injury, especially given the score of the game at the time.

Spencer: His defense like others have said. His arm is lacking.

Wesley: The defense has not lived up to his reputation. There’s definitely room for improvement, and it’s surprising seeing him with negative defensive value right now. It’s just slightly below average, but still. If he can maintain this level of offensive production, while improving defensively, he’ll be deserving of both NL Rookie of the Year AND Most Valuable Player. Which sounds like crazy talk.

Who will be his closest rivals for potential Rookie of the Year and MVP honors?

James: It’s tough for me to pick another rookie that is currently giving Carroll a run for his money for Rookie of the Year. If I was to pick any rookie though, I think Elly De La Cruz might have some eye-popping stats in another 300 PAs. If he does, then he could potentially give Carroll a run for his money, especially if he plays like the perennial all-star many envision him being.

As for MVP, that race is going to have all sorts of narratives tied to it unless something changes between now and the end of the season. Ronald Acuña is helping to lead the Braves to the best record in the NL and may actually post an incredible 30/50 season. Luis Arráez is still batting over .400. If those two maintain their paces and Carroll also maintains his, the NL MVP is going to be one of the most hotly contested awards in ages. That doesn’t even take into account some of the other big seasons being had around the league.

Makakilo: Rookie of the Year. My opinion is that Corbin Carroll is way out in front with no real competition. He generated fan excitement with his 18 stolen bases and his 13 homers including a grand slam. His 43 sprints of at least 30 feet per second is the second most in the Majors. (Interestingly, teammate Jake McCarthy had 26 of those sprints.)

Details: In the preseason, Jordan Walker, Cardinals outfielder, was his main competition. In the 16 April roundtable, I wrote that James Outman, Dodgers outfielder, was his main competition. Now, the consensus seems to be that Elly De La Cruz, shortstop and third base for the Reds, is his main competition. However, De La Cruz was not called up until 6 June, and in games through Friday only had 17 PAs in the Majors.

MVP. The top bWAR is a close race between Acuna Jr 3.2, Corbin Carroll 3.0, Luiz Arraez 3.0, and Freddie Freeman 2.9. The tie breaker could be the players’ impact on reaching and winning the World Series. Looking at championship win probability added (cWPA), Corbin Carroll looks like the favorite!

  • 2.0 cWPA, Corbin Carroll
  • 1.9 cWPA, Freddie Freeman
  • 1.6 cWPA, Ronald Acuna Jr
  • 1.5 cWPA, Lourdes Gurriel Jr

Steven: His biggest threat is himself. He’s set such a high standard of play that you expect this to continue throughout the rest of the year and unless he’s superhuman, it’s just not possible. But if anyone can do it, it’s the guy who looks unfazed out there in his first real MLB action.

Sam: Agreed that the ROY race doesn’t look close right now, but it’s June; plenty can still happen. Steven’s comment might be the most apt in a way he probably didn’t intend: If Carroll injures himself and is out for months, that could open the door to someone else.

Spencer: Elly and Walker are the two big ROY and future MVP competition. Acuna and whatever big name bat comes alive in the second half will vye with Corbin for the 2023 MVP vote.

Wesley: James and Steven have the right answers here. We’re 40% of the way through the season, and a lot can change in that remaining 60%

Who are the worst failures so far: Mets, Phillies or Padres?

James: I’m going to have to go with the Padres. The Phillies were almost destined to come crashing back down after having pulled off a number of impressive feats last year. The Mets have been ravaged by a combination of injuries and age. If they could just keep the entire team healthy for a full month, things might be different. The Padres too have had their injury woes, but not to the same extent. Frankly, it’s a shock how poorly they are still performing. However, of the three teams, I still think the Padres are the most likely to turn things around. If their pitching would become even slightly more reliable, they could quickly ascend the NL West table and push for the playoffs still.

Makakilo: The Padres are all-in this season, having awarded long term contracts that will age badly and having traded away great prospects with a farm ranked in the bottom third of the Majors. So having only a 54% chance of reaching the postseason must be the most disappointing.

Second most disappointing must be the Phillies who reached the World Series last season, but are unlikely to reach it again either this season or in the near future.

The following table looked at reaching the postseason - past, present, and future. I included the D-backs to show how their future looks bright!

Justin: Good table Kilo. For me, my number one would be the Padres.

Steven: The Mets baby, love the Mets! For everything they did in the off-season, with a payroll pushing $350 million to not make the playoffs has to be one of the worst seasons in recent history.

Sam: Either the Mets or the Padres. Both teams made waves with their extravagant free agent offers this past offseason, even the ones that didn’t ultimately come through, like Carlos Correa, who the Mets over eagerly jumped on when the Giants threw up a red flag on his physical, and Aaron Judge, who reportedly took $55M less than the Padres were offering in order to stay with the Yankees instead. But as a tiebreaker, as a Diamondbacks fan, I certainly want to laugh at the NL West rival Padres more. When I saw triumphant articles like this one from ESPN at the beginning of the season, it actually made me hate the Padres more than FTD, and the schadenfreude of seeing their vaunted lineup struggle has been delicious.

Spencer: I don’t think the Phillies belong on this list. They were a Cinderella Story last year and are not close to a complete team. They are built to succeed in the postseason by hitting home runs. If they don’t, they lose. That doesn’t translate well to 162 games a year, especially when the pitching is barely treading water. So I say the Padres. They should be having the season Arizona is. Instead they look like the team Colorado’s ownership thought they had this year… The Mets are going to Met. A franchise with a helluva bad pitching health record was counting on two ancient names…

Wesley: The Mets being awful even with a good owner and an insane payroll is the most Mets thing ever. The Phillies were a surprise last year, I personally thought they’d be awful, and I’m not surprised they’ve turned back into a pumpkin after their Cinderella run in the playoffs last year. So that leaves us with the Padres, and Makakilo’s chart makes it all the more clear. There’s a chance they actually trade Soto after trading away the farm for him. (Which is why I am against trading away our farm for a rental, even if it is for a guy under contract for a couple seasons)

Would you support a bill to increase the minimum wage for servers to eliminate tipping? Why or why not?

James: I spent over 30 years working in the industry. I absolutely would support servers making the actual minimum wage. That’s how I paid when I was hiring. I didn’t eliminate tips, but the servers would have been okay without them. Restaurants and bars penciling in servers to make under $4/hr and then scheduling 2-3 such people to cover a single person’s job just means that the servers aren’t making enough hourly to support themselves and are fighting with overstaffing to make enough tips. Pay the workers enough to live off of and they work with less stress and are more willing to go the extra mile when things start getting rough for one reason or another.

Makakilo: Yes to increasing the minimum wage and no to eliminating tipping. Tipping is great because it results in higher pay than minimum wage and it keeps a focus on great customer service.

Justin: Same as Kilo’s answer.

ISH95: I disagree with the concept that restaurant workers should be making minimum wage in the first place.

Sam: It sounds like this question revolves around Americans being annoyed with tipping and wanting to get rid of it without just heating the common retort of “well then servers will make less money.” The good news is that if Americans would just look abroad a bit, other places have solutions to that problem, and they really aren’t that hard. For instance, I live in Singapore, where a fixed 18% service charge is just automatically added to your bill. Many places even include that amount, often along with the taxes, in the overall price listed in their menus, with a note like “prices include an 18% service fee.” The clarity in pricing, and accompanying ease in splitting bills, was refreshing when I encountered it at first and is now something I pretty much take for granted. (I actually didn’t mind doing the math, as my username would suggest, but it’s kind of silly when you think about it.) And if you’re worried that somehow servers will treat customers horribly without an inconsistent and oddly personal financial carrot in front of their noses, well, I can’t identify any difference in the quality of the customer service between Singapore and the US, or for that matter, between F&B and other industries that don’t have tipping in the US.

As for how to get there from here, that’s much harder. A government ban on optional but expected service charges is probably a bit too heavy-handed for American culture to accept, plus seems rather difficult to enforce given that they’re optional anyways. I’d like to hope that more restaurant chains in the US could just unilaterally declare in their menus that 18% service charges are automatically included in bills. They already often do that for large enough parties. That said, the fact that these things haven’t happened yet suggests to me that it’s bogged down in the morass of unchangeable cultural expectations and coordination issues.

Spencer: Yes. I’ve worked that job and did very well. But it was all disposable income at the time. If I was trying to be a real adult with any tip-based job I’d be hard-pressed. If the two must come together, then sure. But I agree with Makakilo and ISH95 - Servers should either be paid enough to live or get minimum wage and continue to earn tips.

Wesley: You should already know my answer. Tipping is just a way to avoid paying people the minimum wage. How about we pay EVERYONE a living wage! Minimum wage is a joke and should be over $25 an hour at this point on the federal level. I am so over laissez faire capitalism and deregulation