At this time last year, A.J. Pollock was considered the fourth or fifth outfielder on the Arizona Diamondbacks. Adam Eaton was the starter in center field, Jason Kubel was in left with Gerardo Parra in right. My, how times have changed. When Eaton missed the beginning of the season with an elbow injury, Pollock became the everyday guy in center and acquitted himself quite well in his first full season. As Spring Training is set to begin, there is no doubt that A.J. is a key figure in the D’backs 2014 season.
How 2013 went: Pollock was in the Opening Day lineup and began the season with a bang going 3-4 in the team’s 6-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. The former first round pick showed good gap power as he was among the league leaders in doubles for most of the season, finishing with 28. He also used his outstanding speed to leg out five triples and to cover a lot of ground in the outfield. When Eaton and Cody Ross returned from early injuries, Pollock’s playing time decreased. He started becoming more of a defensive replacement in the late innings. However, Ross’s hip injury in August allowed Pollock more complete games. His first full season in the Majors produced 443 at-bats with 8 home runs and 38 RBI’s with a slash line of .269/.322/.409.
Outlook for 2014: Pollock heads into the season as the D’back starter in center field. He will be asked to compensate for the perceived defensive liability of Mark Trumbo in left. He has an excellent arm as his eight assists points out. As far as his place in the goes, Pollock will probably hit either first or ninth. He can improve on his 12 stolen bases from 2013 and get that number into the 20′s. However, on the days Ross gets into the lineup, Pollock could be the odd man as Parra would move to center with Ross in right. Still, he should get 500 at-bats and produce some more power in his second full season. It is not out of the question for him to hit 12 home runs and drive in 60 with somewhere between 30-35 doubles. D’back fans would be very happy with those numbers.