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2023 Arizona Diamondbacks Reviews #1: Corbin Carroll

Were you expecting someone else?

Corbin Carroll stands in front of a sign made up of individual incandescent light bulbs that says All MLB while holding his All MLB trophy Photo by Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images
  • Rating: 9.74
  • 2023 MLB Stats: .285/.362/.506, 134 OPS+, 54 SB, 25 HR, 5.4 bWAR, Unanimous NL Rookie of the Year, All MLB team, 5th place in MVP voting, Unanimous AZSP Rookie of the Year, AZSP MVP, idk, probably rescued a puppy from a burning building at some point in the season too
  • Date of Birth: August 21st 2000
  • 2023 Salary: $1 million
  • 2024 Status: Under contract until 2030. 2024 salary of $3 million
A bar chart showing the vote distribution for Corbin Carroll. All votes were either a nine or a ten.

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out what I’m going to write in this review. Not because I don’t have anything I could say, no. It’s that I’m not sure what hasn’t been said yet. Jim has already had to write several, excellent reviews of Carroll’s season. Like this one when he won Rookie of the Year. Or this one when he won the AZSP Rookie of the year. Or this one when he won the AZSP MVP award. Or, going back further, this one when he was named a starter for the All Star Game. I think there was even another one when he was named to the All MLB team, but I don’t see it, and frankly, I think I’ve made my point. There isn’t much left to be said as far as his 2023 season.

So what then? It seems unfair to not write anything about the first Rookie of the Year winner in team history, but a part of every review is to look forward at what may come in the next season. The afterglow of this past season has been too strong that we just haven’t thought much about that, beyond being giddy that we still have seven more seasons to enjoy him. With that being said, I thought I would take a look at three similar Rookies of the Year to see how they fared in their second MLB seasons and see if we can glean any insight into what we can expect from Carroll in 2024

I’m going to keep my methodology fairly simple for this, no need to over think it. I want players with a similar bWAR for the season, and a similar triple slash line. It’s arbitrary, but I’m going to try to keep it to similar types of hitters as well. For example, I’m not going to include Pete Alonso, even though he had a 5.5 WAR, .260/.358/.583 season. Sure, they have similar results, but they got there via drastically different routes. My other criteria is that they should still be playing. If they’re retired, it’s so long ago I’m not sure how valid it will be. So without further ado, let’s take a look

Bryce Harper

Harper’s debut was the longest ago of any of the other players on this list. If you would, cast your mind all the way back to 2012 when the phenom took the field for the first time. In those first 139 games, he put up a triple slash of .270/.340/.477 and a 118 OPS+. A perfectly acceptable rookie season, though not quite living up to the sky high expectations that were placed upon him going into the season. This is a potentially major difference between him and Carroll as far as how their early seasons may compare.

In his second season, Harper was struck for the first time (of several) by the injury bug. He crashed into the wall in May, injuring his knee, something that would hinder him for the rest of. He was limited to just 118 game, but despite that hit 13 home runs in his first 58 games, passed Ken Griffey Jr. for most home runs by a player under the age of 21, and increased his OPS+ to 134. He also still managed to put up 3.7 bWAR in around two thirds of a season. It was shortened for sure, but still an impressive second year in the big leagues.

Corey Seager

Next up, a name that most Diamondbacks fans probably don’t want to hear any more about after his performance in the World Series. Corey Seager had a rookie season in 2016 that is almost identical to Carroll’s ROTY campaign. Seager hit for a higher batting average at .308, but he was within two points on OBP and bWAR, six points for slugging, one point for OPS+, and hit just a single home run more than Carroll. The accolades were very similar, as they both were named to the All Star Game in those seasons, and both finished top five in MVP voting.

His sophomore season was still great, but he did take a small step backwards. Hi slash line was .295/.375/.479 and his OPS+ was 126. He also hit four less home runs, and had 63 fewer total bases. Still a totally respectable season, though, and he was named to a second all-star team and picked up another Silver Slugger

Michael Harris II

Finally, the NL Rookie of the Year immediately proceeding Corbin Carroll. In 2022 Michael Harris II recorded a 5.3 bWAR season, which was perhaps even more impressive than Carroll putting up a similar number, as Harris did it in 114 games versus Carroll’s 155. His triple slash for the season was .293/.339/.514, and he collected a solid 19 home runs.

In his second year, the batting average and the on base percentage remained essentially unchanged. But his slugging percentage took a huge hit, dropping 37 points, mainly due to him hitting one fewer home run, but in 24 more games. This drop in power lead to a much more pedestrian OPS+ of 114 compared to 133 the season prior.

Conclusion

So what does this tell us? Well, as we all know, really not that much. These four are all different players, in different circumstances. Plus add in luck, and who knows. But if we were to draw some conclusions, it’s that generational players tend to play well. Bryce Harper, injuries aside, actually took a step forward to meeting the incredibly high expectations that he was held to. Seager wasn’t quite as good, but not enough that it truly impacted his value. Harris is the most concerning example. However, one can also argue that his decrease in production had more to do with further exposure to the league.

Carroll has injury risks. His shoulder can cause even the strongest Diamondbacks fan to cringe in fear on some swings, and of course there is no way of knowing when an injury like Harper’s can happen. I think best case scenario is him following the path of Seager, and that’s where the preseason projections have him too. Jack’s combined projections have him at .273/.353/.473. Not the level that he was in 2023, but I don’t think anyone would be upset by that either. On the other hand, I don’t see him being likely to follow the same path as Harris, as Carroll has already had a full season of games, whereas Harris only played about 2/3’s of a season in his rookie year.

There’s only one way to be sure, though, and to that point I can tell you that Spring Training games start in 43 days. This concludes our player reviews for the 2023 season. Thank you so much for reading and stay tuned to AZ Snakepit for any other news that might pop up between now and February 23rd. JD Martinez anyone? Go Dbacks!