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An Early Guess at the 2024 Diamondbacks Lineup

Now that it seems the final major piece of the 2024 Dbacks roster has been added, I started to think about what the Opening Day lineup may look like. Here's what the locks in the lineup should be (against RHP):

  1. Carroll
  2. Marte
  3. ______
  4. Walker
  5. ______
  6. ______
  7. Moreno
  8. Thomas
  9. Perdomo

By my count, there are 6 spots locked in and 3 spots open for discussion. We know WHO the players in the slots will be, we just don't know which slot they'll fill. Let's have a look at our options: Lourdes Gurriel Jr, Eugenio Suarez, and Joc Pederson.

Lourdes Gurriel, Jr.

I think it's awesome having Pina Power back in the lineup this year. I was resigned to him signing elsewhere this offseason, but keeping him allows us to have a more-than-competent glove in LF and an awesome tone-setter for the clubhouse. He's the only one of the three who has been in a Torey Lovullo lineup card before, and he spent the bulk of his time in the 3/5/6 slots (94%). He began the year as the 3 hitter if I recall correctly, but ended up with most of his plate appearances coming in the 5-hole (48%).

His end of season stats were certainly better than I expected they would be when we traded for him, but most of that was due to a white hot opening couple months to the season before he tanked for a couple months (injury related?) and then finally settled in to a simply average hitter profile in September/October. He doesn't strike out very much, he doesn't walk very much, but he does tend to hit a lot of ground balls. This was most frustratingly evident in his tally of 20 GIDP over the course of 2023. Against right-handed pitching, Gurriel is merely 'okay'. Last year, he was able to scrape out a 100 (exactly league average) wRC+, with a K% of 19.7% and BB% of 4.9%. He was able to do a lot of heavy damage against righties, with a SLG of .467, however.

Eugenio Suarez

Geno certainly seems to be a great clubhouse partner with Lourdes, providing a laid back "good vibes only" mentality. Filling in the hot corner this season, he should provide a massive lineup upgrade over 2023's assortment of Evan Longoria, Jace Peterson, Emmanuel Rivera, and Josh Rojas.

He profiles almost exactly opposite of 2023 Gurriel as a hitter, though. He is outstanding in taking free bases, but he's one of the league worst in striking out. His groundball rate was nearly 10 points lower than Gurriel's, leading to half the GIDP of Lourdes. Against RHP, Suarez sports and ungodly 30% K-rate, but helps balance that with a 9% walk-rate. His wRC+ was 99 against righties, barely below the league average rate belonging to Lourdes.

Joc Pederson

The final piece of the puzzle is our presumed DH-only addition of Joc Pederson. Joc is a two-time World Series champion (if one counts Mickey Mouse rings, that is). His exploits with fantasy football and former-DBack Tommy Pham are pretty infamous (as an aside, one of the teams in my fantasy baseball league was named Joc Slappers for the last couple seasons). His addition has been polarizing among the fanbase here mostly due to his prior association with FTD rather than his physical ability to hit a baseball, an ability which is rather good when he's not facing southpaws.

Joc's 2023 season in the Bay featured a walk-rate even better than Suarez combined with a K-rate 10 points better. Pederson's numbers against righties last year weren't quite as good as I was expecting, but he did compile a 115 wRC+ against them. His K% was nearly identical to that of Gurriel at 19.8%, but his walk rate was almost triple Gurriel's (13.1%)! Joc's batted ball profile was more similar to Gurriel than Suarez, with 39% GB-rate (compared to 43% for the former and 34% for the latter).

Conclusion

Torey Lovullo has three very different options for the makeup of the heart of the order. My best guess is that Pederson will be the Opening Day 3-hole hitter (against RHP), with Suarez in the 5-spot and Gurriel batting 6th. Pederson's ability to take walks and hit the ball hard against righties seems like a great fit, and I personally prefer Suarez's 3-True-Outcome approach higher up in the order instead of Gurriel's propensity for hitting the ball on the ground leading to inning-ending forceouts or rally-killing double plays.

There is dark horse in this race that I haven't yet mentioned: Gabriel Moreno. I didn't cover him at all as I think he's locked in to the 7-spot in the lineup, at least early in the season against righties, but we shouldn't forget that this young man was hitting third in the 2023 World Series. If Gabi continues on his trajectory, I would not be surprised at all if he supplants one of these aforementioned three in the heart of the Diamondbacks 2024 lineup.

Thanks for reading! What do you think? Will Joc be slotted between Ketel and C-Walk against righties? Will Geno bring good vibes to the top of lineup? Will Pina power his way to the 3-spot? Or will something completely different happen?