The Arizona Diamondbacks are expecting big things from Paul Goldschmidt.
The young first baseman burst onto the scene last year with a strong abbreviated regular season and an even better playoffs with the D-Backs. The young slugger would give the Diamondbacks perhaps their best option to hit the ball out of the park on any given at-bat, and could be extremely valuable in protecting the D-Backs franchise—Justin Upton. However, more than in any other sport, things don’t always work out the way they are supposed to in baseball. Ask the San Francisco Giants if they counted on Buster Posey going down last season or the Philadelphia Phillies if they thought Jason Heyward would only drive in 42 runs while batting .227 in 2011. While it’s expected that Goldschmidt will thrive this season, it’s far from a given.
In the event of disaster, manager Kirk Ginson has as good a backup plan as can be expected at first base. While the emergency duo of Willie Bloomquist and John McDonald rightfully cause reason for concern at shortstop as the D-Backs wait for Stephen Drew to get healthy, the alternative at first base is much better. Lyle Overbay—in his second stint with the D-Backs—was signed by Arizona after being designated for assignment last August by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was extremely productive in a very abbreviated appearance with the D-Backs last year—driving in 10 runs in just 42 at-bats—and has had a hot spring hitting .313 with 2 preseason games left.
Overbay, an adequate power hitter, has a career .270 average and brings a veteran presence to the D-Backs roster with a ton of starting experience—something Bloomquist and McDonald don’t offer. Overbay was a regular in the Milwaukee Brewers and Toronto Blue Jays lineups from 2004-2010 and has accumulated a 17.3 WAR (wins above replacement)–a stat used to measure the wins Overbay has contributed to his teams above a standard player. Additionally, he’s a plus defender and has proven to be extremely durable. Knowing the emergence of Goldschmidt and his importance to the D-Backs lineup, Overbay still opted to sign a one-year deal this offseason to stay in Arizona, meaning he’s completely aware of his role on this team—a mentor, backup and emergency player.
While the hope is that Goldscmidt will thrive this season, the move to re-up Overbay has given the D-Backs as good an option as any if things go wrong.
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