The Arizona Diamondbacks appear to have a pretty short shopping list left for this holiday season.
With the all the bullpen help that Towers has brought in so far this season, and the acquisition of Cliff Pennington to fill the shortstop hole, it looks like a veteran starting pitcher is the only item left on the D-backs’ wish list. And while it’s only December, it’s never too early to take a look at the projected lineup.
The Diamondbacks have long lacked a true leadoff hitter, but that seems to be a problem of the past with Adam Eaton taking over for Chris Young in center field – Eaton owns a career .456 OBP in the minor leagues.
While that number is way above any realistic expectation for him in the majors, we can still expect him to have close to the .382 mark he put up in limited time at the end of 2012. That number would put Eaton among the best in the NL over a full season.
Who hits after Eaton will be an interesting decision. I could see the D-backs go several different ways, Aaron Hill, Pennington, Jason Kubel or even Justin Upton. If it was up to me, I’d put Upton in the second spot and Kubel in the third, but in the end, I’d bet Hill gets the nod for his power-speed potential. That puts Upton back in the three hole after spending a good amount of 2012 in the fifth spot.
With those two spots claimed, it makes the clean-up hitter and the five spot easy decisions. Paul Goldschmidt is a perfect choice for clean up with Miguel Montero providing protection in the five hole. In the interest of left-right-left-right match ups to make it difficult on opposing pitchers and managers, the D-backs should slot Chris Johnson in sixth and Kubel seventh. Pennington will bring up the rear in the eight spot.
Here’s how it would look with the AVG/.OBP/SLUG slash line next to each hitter:
8- Eaton .259/.382/.412
4- Hill .272/.327/.432
9- Upton .278/.357/.475
3- Goldschmidt .278/.353/.487
2- Montero .275/.351/.448
5- Johnson .276/.315/.430
7- Kubel .268/.334/.467
6- Pennington .249/.313/.356
The lineup is actually pretty deep, especially looking at the on-base percentage for each player in comparison to others players at their position. Only Hill, Johnson and Pennington were not in the top 10 at their position (Eaton would have been top 10 in center field if he had the required number of at bats.) There is also potential for some power with Hill, Upton, Goldschmidt and Kubel, who all could hit 25 home runs. However, Johnson, Pennington and Eaton have very little power.
Will the D-backs be able to get on base enough to over the two holes, Johnson and Pennington, in their lineup?